NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN by Beatrice Muchman


A Young Girl's Holocaust Memoir
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 A portrait of a Jewish child's life in hiding in Belgium during the Holocaust, based on recently rediscovered letters by the author's parents, her own childhood diaries, and other documents. The author's family had fled Germany after Kristallnacht, but they got no further than Belgium, thanks to the reluctance of many countries to take in Jewish refugees. This antipathy is exemplified here by an emigration form filed by the family that was rejected for a technicality: A ``single typographical error,'' Muchman notes, ``could spell the difference between life and death.'' Thus trapped in Brussels, Muchman's parents managed to place their young daughter in a Christian household in rural Belgium, and the emotional high point of the book comes when, in the fall of 1942, her despairing father comes to say what would prove to be a final goodbye. He and his wife were soon arrested and killed. Because up to this point the narrative is more reconstructed from the letters and documents than it is recalled, there is a sense of remove- -readers do not get to know the girl's father and mother as personalities. The memoir becomes more engaging when it relies on her frank diary entries. Young Beatrice, with a negligible religious upbringing, took to celebrating mass and eating snails with relish. After the war she was adopted by an aunt and uncle in Chicago, and like many other survivors, she tried to forget the Holocaust. Her daughter's discovery of the letters and diary, however, allowed Muchman to not only remember her past, but also to get over the lingering childhood conviction that her parents had abandoned her. As a diarist, Muchman was younger and more vain and materialistic than Anne Frank. But her adult use of the diary and the recollections is inspired, when not slowed down by bureaucratic documents, and effectively portrays the upheavals of her lost-and- found life.

Pub Date: July 17th, 1997
ISBN: 0-88125-598-X
Page count: 126pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1997


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