|Margot, while reading.|
After reading Night, I knew I’d read another book written by a holocaust survivor. I got lucky when I found that a book launch event for Try To make Your Life by Margot Friedlander was being held in DC. I received a review copy courtesy of the publisher and I made it about halfway through the book beforehand. Margot spent a significant amount of time reading from her memoir at the start of the event. When I got back home to finish reading the second half, I could no longer do so without hearing her voice.
Through the first forty pages or so, she recounts what many would consider an ideal childhood. But that was before the Nazis came into power. She then details how Jews were systematically demoralized. Little by little, they were stripped of their properties, their possessions, their businesses, and even their professional accreditations.
Margot’s mother tried, desperately, to get herself and her two children out of the country. Family and friends, even those that had already immigrated, turned their backs. When they finally caught a break, on the day they were to emigrate, Margot arrived home to find the Gestapo at her door. Her mother and brother had been taken away and Margot’s mother left her with a message: Try to make your life.
Margot decides to go into hiding. Over the course of fifteen months, sixteen strangers help her. Someone gave her a silver cross pendant to wear so that people would think she was Christian. A doctor even gave her a nose job, for free, after she was afraid of being discovered because of her “Jewish looking nose.” Eventually she finds herself in an impossible situation. When asked for papers to prove her identity, she turns herself in. And then, she was taken to a concentration camp which she ultimately describes as a "middle ground, not life,not death."
The book ends with Friedlander describing that she could only write the book after the death of her husband. Had her husband been alive she would not have done it. He was also a survivor and wanted nothing to do with Germany. Thinking back on her mother's and her brother's last moments and wondering if her father harbored any regrets about abandoning the family are two of the things she still wonders about today. It was writing the book finally led her home to Germany. She moved back in 2009.
I'll post the event recap soon. And you'll want to stay tuned for this one.
Affiliate LinkTry to Make Your Life on Amazon