Shared Sorrows: A Gypsy Family Remembers the Holocaust

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On the morning after Kristallnacht, Toby Sonneman’s father walked through broken glass to apply for the visa that saved him from the fate of so many during the Third Reich. In examining her own family history, the author discovered the similarities between the fate of the Jews and the Gypsies in the Holocaust, both peoples selected on racial grounds for extermination by the Nazis.

She traveled with an American Gypsy survivor to Munich, where she stayed with the formidable Rosa Mettbach. This is the story of Rosa and other members of an extended family who survived the Holocaust. Shared Sorrows tells the story of a Gypsy family against the backdrop of a Jewish one, detailing and examining their shared sufferings under the Nazis.

My father brought a spool of thread with him from Germany when he came to America in 1939. And another spool of thread, one in my imagination, unwinds slowly and unpredictably, sometimes fraying or tangling. It's a thin and delicate thread that leads me to the Gypsies, to the family that I meet in Germany, the country of so many tangled memories and emotions. And as I talk to them and I listen, following the threads of their stories backwards in time to the 1930s and 40s and before, their memories start to become mine as well.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This riveting, sometimes quite graphic, well-written an essential purchase for college, public and research libraries."  —AJL Newsletter

"A great piece of oral history and an excellent addition to the body of Holocaust literature."  —Counterpoise

"A touching collection of Holocaust memories that builds a bridge between the Gypsy and Jewish experiences."  —Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Grace Paley
"Tough, sad, truthful and full of information that has been missing or insufficiently understood . . . an extraordinary untold story."
—author, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute
AJL Newsletter
"This riveting, sometimes quite graphic, well-written book . . . is an essential purchase for college, public and research libraries."
"Essential reading for those who wish to understand better the tragedy that befell the Roma in the Holocaust."
"A great piece of oral history and an excellent addition to the body of Holocaust literature."
Holocaust and Genocide Studies
"A touching collection of Holocaust memories that builds a bridge between the Gypsy and Jewish experiences. Fortunately, Sonneman does not fall into the trap of trying to equate the Gypsy tragedy during the Holocaust with that of the Jews. She simply uses these Gypsy testimonies to illustrate the commonality of pain."
Essential reading for those who wish to understand better the tragedy that befell the Roma in the Holocaust.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781902806105
  • Publisher: University of Hertfordshire Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 296
  • Sales rank: 972,576
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

Toby Sonneman, a founding member of the Romani-Jewish Alliance, is the author of numerous articles on the fate of the Gypsies in the Holocaust as well as Fruit Fields in My Blood: Okie Migrants in the West.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 8, 2010

    Review of Shared Sorrows:

    Overall, a touching book that will greatly interest any reader who is fond of history, or who wants to learn more about the Holocaust from a different perspective. I would not recommend for children. Not too many pages, however, it is very detailed with the Gypsy experience of the Holocaust. The author, who is Jewish, examines her own family history throughout the book by discovering the similarities between the fate of the Jews and the Gypsies in the Holocaust. Toby Sonneman gets oral interviews with Gypies who are still alive that lived during the Holocaust. Their stories alone will enlighten the reader about the forgotten part of the Holocaust. Most people know that the Nazis tried exterminating the Jews, however, most people do not know about the Nazis and their plan to exterminate the Gypsies as well.

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