Letters from the Lost

On March 15, 1939, Helen Waldstein’s father snatched his stamped exit visa from a distracted clerk to escape from Prague with his wife and child. As the Nazis closed in on a war-torn Czechoslovakia, only letters from their extended family could reach Canada through the barriers of conflict. The Waldstein family received these letters as they made their lives on a southern Ontario farm, where they learned to be Canadian and forget their Jewish roots.Helen Waldstein read these letters as an adult?this changed everything. As her past refused to keep silent, Helen followed the trail of the letters back to Europe, where she discovered living witnesses who could attest to the letters’ contents. She has here interwoven their stories and her own into a compelling narrative of suffering, survivor guilt, and overcoming intergenerational obstacles when exploring a traumatic past.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Cover Page 1
Contents 6
Foreword 8
Preface 14
Acknowledgements 16
Map 18
Family Tree 20
Opening the Box 22
Leaving Home 40
Letters to Antwerp 48
Starting Over 66
Letters to Canada 86
Searching In Europe: 1997–1998 100
My Aunts and Uncles 128
My Grandparents 142
War Breaks Out 158
The Family Copes 178
The Letters Stop 194
Imagining 208
After the War 216
Finding Home 250
Searching for Family Again 256
Searching for Family One Last Time 278
Epilogue 286
Endnotes 298
Selected Bibliography 300