I just finished reading Sala’s Gift, My Mother’s Holocaust Story by Anne Kirschner. Anne happens to sit on the Board of MOUSE, an organization that I chaired many years ago so I felt compelled to read her book. I am so glad that I did.
I have read a variety of books about the Holocaust. Family tales, historical information, etc. This book is based on the letters that Anne’s mother, Sala, had kept over the 6 years that she moved from camp to camp. Letters from her sisters, her friends, her suitors, etc. Her mother was part of the Nazi labor camps where the Jews were the labor, literally. They built the highways, the roads, cleaned the soldiers clothes, etc. Those camps were brutal but not as brutal as the grim places like Auschwitz. Sala begins her journey at 16. She was allowed to receive and send letters for many of the initial years and then letters tapered off as the war got worse.
Anne has taken those letters, done significant research and put the story together. In essence, Anne’s mother, who never discussed her past as most Holocaust survivors don’t, felt compelled to share these letters with Anne just before she went in for heart surgery. I gather she didn’t want to die on the operating table and wanted to be the one to share this information vs. being found after she was gone. She survived and Anne was able to interview her and many others to write this book. The book consists of the letters and then information surrounding them that weaves the story.
Today in the NYTimes, there is a small article that Iran has invited more than 60 scholars from over 30 countries to examine whether the Holocaust was true or a distortion of history, myth or just a propaganda tool to help create the country of Israel. The names of the scholars weren’t announced but I found it interesting that at this time that Iran was looking into the past history of Jews. After all, there are over 25,000 Jews living in Iran.
Anne’s mother, Sala lived through one of the most horrific crimes of the 20th Century. Anne has written something that the Iranians might want to consider passing around at the forum they are about to hold.