Reading List

Reading List #7: Reading Grandma’s story back to her; Channel Island concentration camp explored

This is Reading List #7, a selection of recent Holocaust-related news stories and links from around the internet.


In a poignant and beautifully observed essay, Chicago-based writer Brooke Randel describes reading aloud the book she has been working on to her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, who also happens to be its subject (The Nasiona). Randel has been interviewing her grandmother, Golda Indig, over the past few years but, as she explains, reading over the manuscript with her grandmother has been an anxious but ultimately rewarding experience. The book promises to be a fascinating read.


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New work by archaeologists has uncovered more than previously known about an infamous Nazi labour camp on the British Channel Island of Alderney (National Geographic). A team from England used ground-penetrating LiDAR to uncover the hidden features of the cliff-top site, though restriction imposed upon their study made digging impossible. Beneath the group, the found evidence of much of the site’s wartime structure, including a network of tunnels beneath the surface. There work has not been warmly greeted by everyone, with some islanders preferring to leave the past behind, but there are plans to mark the site more obviously than is currently the case.


The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports the death of Holocaust survivor Aron Halpern, aged 92, due to complications from Covid-19. Halpern grew up in Krakow, Poland, and survived an attempted execution by his Nazi captors, before being reunited with his brother Jacob while he was being tended in a hospital. The brothers fled to the United States; after the war, Halpern lived for many years in Florida.


A new documentary film, Forgotten Soldier, tells the story of Sally Noach, a Dutch diplomat who used his influence to help Jewish refugees escape detention in Vichy France. The Times of Israel tells the story. Noach’s story bears some similarity to that of Oskar Schindler: Noach prepared lists of people whom he claimed were Dutch citizens and therefore not eligible for detained. It is likely that he saved the lives of many more, though, but demanding the release of further refugees who were not on his list. After the war, political jealousies meant recognition of his heroic efforts did not happen for many years.


Two streets in northern Paris have been stuck in a WW2 time warp after production was halted on a film, leaving them dressed as a wartime set. The Guardian reports that Rue Berthe and Rue Androuet in Montmartre were being used to film Adieu Monsieur Haffmann, a drama about a Jewish jeweler forced into hiding by the Nazi occupation of the city. Filming has now shut down, but the largely deserted streets have been left representing the French capital in 1942.


The Daily Mail carries extracts from a newly published memoir by Auschwitz survivor Franci Rabinek Epstein, entitled Franci’s War. When Epstein died, in 1989, her memoir had failed to find a publisher, but it is now released in the UK by Michael Joseph, and imprint of Penguin Books. Epstein survived a selection by Dr Josef Mengele and, as the Nazis began to empty Auschwitz at the end of 1944, was transferred west to Bergen-Belsen, the concentration camp who liberation by British forces in 1945 will be marked later this month.


ITV in the UK airs a 60 minute documentary entitled Return to Belsen on Tuesday April 7th, in which broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby visits the concentration camp whose liberation was famously described by the BBC in 1945. Richard Dimbleby’s report was for many in Britain the first graphic account heard of the horrors uncovered by Allied forces entering Germany. The linked article includes a press release describing the programme’s contents; UK viewers will likely be able to watch it after its broadcast date with the ITV Player service


If you have seen a relevant article that could be included in next week’s reading list, why not get in touch via the contact page, or on Twitter, @holocaustreader?

Inclusion of articles on this list does not necessarily indicate endorsement of opinions expressed within them.

Images in this post are used under the principle of fair use for the purposes of review, education and study, and will be removed at the request of the copyright holder(s).

Header photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash.

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