Press Release

For more information contact:

Sylvia [Guggenheim] Griffiths


Kirkus Reviews Best of 2012 - The Guggenheim File

The Guggenheim File


Die Akte Guggenheim

New York, December 29, 2012 - Anyone who is drawn to unearth the secrets of history, especially family history during the period of World War II and the Holocaust, will be fascinated by The Guggenheim File (Die Akte Guggenheim), a compelling non-fiction book about the Guggenheim family of Worms, now available at

After the discovery of the "Guggenheim File" buried in Germany's State Archives in Hamburg, Sylvia Griffiths (a descendant of the Guggenheim family) was contacted by both a psychologist and a documentary filmmaker who were researching information on her lost family history. Despite several attempts to connect with her, Griffiths repeatedly ignored their requests. Why dredge up a painful past that would only hurt her, her sister, and their elderly mother?

It took great courage and a painful personal journey for Griffiths to unearth her hidden family secrets and confront the trauma her family had experienced before, during and after the Holocaust. The elegant, warm and cultured Guggenheims survived Kristallnacht, the Kindertransport, the loss of their business and everything they owned to Germany's "Aryanization."

The Guggenheim file provided Griffiths with the meticulous documentation that eventually jumpstarted 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.

With great courage and tenderness, and at a significant loss of personal well-being, Sylvia Griffiths carries on the tradition of the Haggadah - remember and recount. The veil of silence imposed by her parents, survivors who understandably tried to shield their children from past tragedy, is finally lifted, and memories of growing up in Brazil in a family of refugees come alive through evocative stories and family photos. The missing pieces are clarified through painstaking genealogical charts and illustrations, and the effect is that of a complex tapestry of intimate personal stories woven into the grand sweep of history. The power of her family's Jewish culture and faith is a thread that binds the separate stories and disparate events across time and space, with its sustaining message.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Sylvia [Guggenheim] Griffiths

Sylvia Griffiths was born and raised (hell) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and lives in Queens, New York.

For more information on The Guggenheim File, or to organize a signing event, interview or feature, please contact the author through the website, or by calling 917.520.5850.

The Guggenheim File | A Jewish Holocaust Book

The Guggenheim File

Kirkus Reviews - The Guggenheim File



Die Akte Guggenheim

By Sylvia [Guggenheim] Griffiths

Kirkus Reviews, Vol. LXXX, no. 19 | October 2012


The Guggenheim's family story as a lesson in world history.

What once took considerable time and toil - finding out from whence you came - is now but a quick click away. The Internet has made amateur genealogists of us all. Meanwhile, unearthing the stories behind the branches in the family tree, well, that still requires an awful lot of heavy digging. Consider Griffiths' (a Guggenheim descendant) work a testament, then, to her work ethic. To be fair, a lot of the heavy lifting had already been done. Margot L?r's discovery of the Guggenheim File itself and Jens Huckeriede's documentary about what the Nazis did to the Guggenheim family were already known to the author. In fact, as Griffiths says, both parties had approached her about participating in their respective projects. Not wanting to dredge up the horrors of the Shoah, Griffiths (whose father had even anglicized their last name) declined the offers. Lucky for us, she's since had a change of heart. The author's meticulously researched, lovingly written account has deeply personalized all prior documents that bear her surname. Along with the Rothschilds, the Guggenheims were one of the most prominent Jewish families hit by Hitler. The original Die Akte Guggenheim goes into great detail about how the Nazis, in Griffiths' translation, "confiscated my grandparents' business, property, land, and how they tried to subjugate their lives." And yet, as she points out in "An Abbreviated List of Eleven Generations of The Guggenheim Family," the existence of Felix Mendelssohn, Claude L?i-Strauss, and, of course, Solomon R. Guggenheim proves that fascism never could accomplish that final goal. Many books have been written on the post-World War II Jewish diaspora; here, Griffiths' record reveals an audit of the atrocities within a greater narrative of triumph - and it is both uniquely intimate and overwhelmingly universal.

An inspirational, fascinating chronicle of a family's will to survive.

The Guggenheim File | A Jewish Holocaust Book