About the Book
by Sandy Flitterman-Lewis
Associate Professor of English and Cinema Studies
Rutgers University

For centuries, Jews have been a diasporic people who, when faced with countless variations of historical anti-Semitism, have always found ways to build strong ties of family, community, and nation. And while the Shoah is both a point of rupture and the locus of new beginnings, it invariably defines the modern Jewish family. This unavoidable and irreparable reality is but the starting point for the author to trace her genealogical roots back through time.

These true stories begin with the discovery of the Guggenheim file, a tangible file buried in Germany's State Archives in Hamburg. The file contains thorough and painstaking documentation, and is the starting point for the author's enormous effort to find out what happened to the families of both her mother and father before they were forced to leave Germany, and how her parents ended up in Brazil. This time-travel takes the reader through personal accounts of hardship and celebration, of success and failure, of obstacles and generosity. We are given a picture of ordinary lives caught in the grip of cataclysmic events.

Historical Holocaust Stories | The Guggenheim FileA Jewish Family's Holocaust Stories | The Guggenheim File

With great subtlety and tenderness Sylvia Griffiths continues the storytelling tradition of the Haggadah - remember and recount. Memories of growing up in Brazil amongst a family of survivors are evoked, as the veil of silence imposed by her parents, unwilling to harm their children with historical tragedy, is delicately lifted. The effect is that of a complex tapestry that interweaves intimate personal stories with the grand sweep of history. There is a golden thread of Jewish faith and family that binds the separate stories and disparate events across time and space, and provides this fascinating account with its sustaining message.