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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Family of Tears, 25 Feb 2008
By 
Thomas Paul (Plainview, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Every Day Lasts a Year: A Jewish Family's Correspondence from Poland (Hardcover)
In 1986, Richard Hollander's parents died together in a tragic car accident in NY. Among the items he inherited was a box containing letters sent from Poland, the former home of Hollander's father. At first Hollander ignored the letters but at some point as his grief for his parents receded, he realized what he had found. These were letters from his aunts and uncles sent to his father during the the period from 1939 to 1942 from Poland. Since Hollander's Polish relatives were Jews living in Nazi occupied Poland, the value to history of this correspondence became apparent. None of Hollander's relatives survived the war but they live on in these letters. Dora, who found romance in the Krakow ghetto; Klara who held on through her faith in God; Genka who saw no hope but only blackness ahead; Luisa who held her optimism through it all; as well as many others letter writers.

The first part of the book tells the story of Hollander's father fleeing Poland and escaping to the US, followed by his attempts to avoid deportation as an illegal alien. We also learn of his attempts to get exit visas for the family still in Poland. When the war breaks out, he joins the service and is sent to Germany, first to fight and later to serve as a translator. While there he finds little more about his family other that it is highly likely they are all dead.

Two essays follow that give some information about the Krakow ghetto and life within the ghetto. Then the letters follow. There is something quite haunting reading these letters, many quietly hinting at the writer's desperate need to be rescued by their brother in America. The letters are from the grave and reading even the trivial ones can't help but make you think more about these people who suffered and died in the Nazi killing machine. But this opens up a question that is ignored, what did happen to all of these people? Surely at least some small information could have been found, a place of execution, a hint at a year, a final word. The book doesn't reveal if Hollander made any effort but in post-USSR Eastern Europe, surely some information, some person, something must recall one of the 20 people in Hollander's family who died. Ignoring that I think the book is well worth reading. Just be sure to have tissues nearby.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, 1 Jan 2008
This review is from: Every Day Lasts a Year: A Jewish Family's Correspondence from Poland (Hardcover)
It's difficult to call such a book "wonderful", since there was nothing redeeming about the holocaust. However, this collection of letters from Richard Hollander's extended family (none of whom survived) is definitely a collection anyone with interest in this time period should read.

Richard's father made his way to America with his first wife. However, all of his extended family (mother, sisters, nieces) all stayed behind. The letters Joseph (Richard's father) received over the years are the basis of this book. In addition, there are a few essays regarding the time period that are included, as well.

Like Anne Frank's diary, the letters record these people's hope in the face of adversity. Many of the letters are short notes, but they still express the desire to live through this horrible time and to be reunited.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Letters with No Replies", 22 Nov 2007
By 
F. S. L'hoir (Irvine, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Every Day Lasts a Year: A Jewish Family's Correspondence from Poland (Hardcover)
It is difficult to read "Joseph's Story," the first chapter of "Every Day Lasts a Year," without being moved to tears. Richard S. Hollander's riveting narrative of his father's escape from the Nazis and eventual imprisonment (with his wife and a refugee child) by heartless INS officials on Ellis Island is also impossible to put down. One can feel only shame for the United States' immigration policies of 1939 which turned a blind eye to the plight of Jewish refugees in their desperate attempts to flee a Europe that was already in flames.

Christopher Browning's account of the Jews of Cracow and Nechama Tec's analysis of the letters, which Mr. Hollander found in a suitcase in the attic after his parents' tragic death, are also of great interest. As for the letters themselves, although they are of deep personal significance to the family, because of the censorship of the Nazi oppressors, they have to be read "between the lines." Without the analysis, they give us only a glimpse of the increasingly frustrated hopes of the writers to escape what the reader knows is their inevitable fate. One perceives the noose tightening only by omission in what becomes a catalogue of instructions first, not to send packages and next, thanks for received parcels of coffee and tea, measured out by the decagram. It is as if the repetition of "nothing to write today" and the profusions of "affectionate kisses" stand in juxtaposition to an evil that for the reader remains unseen, and for the writer remains unspeakable.

Reviewed for Vine; Amazon.com
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Every Day Lasts a Year: A Jewish Family's Correspondence from Poland
Every Day Lasts a Year: A Jewish Family's Correspondence from Poland by Christopher R. Browning (Hardcover - 15 Oct 2007)
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