The Jewish deportees to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Sobibor who survived often married or remarried soon after Liberation, but many of these unions proved to be disasters. Psychological and physical wounds from the camps could not heal. Home life was marked by great sadness, extreme feelings of guilt, and often stringent rules of behavior.
Broken on the Inside, written by Simon Hammelburg, a well-known Dutch journalist and son of Holocaust survivors, is a novel about Jewish survivors and their children. Based on his own life as well as interviews with 1200 other survivors. These interviews were transcribed during telephone calls he received in a 1992 campaign to help American Jews and other individuals reclaiming property they had lost during the Nazi regime in the former DDR. The calls Simon Hammelburg received were often long monologues about experiences in concentration camps like Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen and even Sobibor, depicting the horrible tales of escapes, hiding, revealing unknown facts about WWII. The witness statements provided unique insights into the psychological aftermath of the Holocaust survivors and their children. The author describes in heart-breaking terms how he and other children of survivors escaped their tormented home life by joining Habonim-Dror, the Socialist Zionist youth movement. Though only one of the young people in the novel succeeds in making aliyah, the rest remain loyal to Israel and the memories of their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
In 1996 the book ‘Kaddish for Daisy’ was published only in Dutch language. It was the debut novel of Simon Hammelburg concerning victims of the Holocaust and their children. The book received some critical acclaim but disappeared from bookshops shortly after publication and has not been available until 2014. Over a period of 18 years, Simon Hammelburg has continued to refine the original manuscript. Now the time has come to publish the final version in Dutch and English.
The protagonist loses his wife in a car crash and while in mourning, he revisits places where together, they had found happiness. During this journey he connects with his peers, his brother and parents. Hammelburg not only describes these meetings but focuses on the many conversations held about the persecution in the camps, the need to stay in hiding, the hope for a new life in Israel and the loneliness in a post-war Europe too busy with its reconstruction. The tragedy of the Holocaust becomes tangible for those who have to live on.
‘I know all about it Daisy. And yet I cannot get angry. On the outside they have survived the Holocaust but inside, almost everything is broken and this shows on the outside. Not very pleasant but there’s nothing to be done about it.’
‘The power lies not so much in the inevitable anguish of the testimonials but more in the directness of a conversation between friends about something that cannot be captured in words by strangers.’- Trouw Newspaper
‘A liberation, moving one to tears.’ - NRC Newspaper
Based on 1200 interviews with Holocaust survivors and their children.
All of these personal witness statements and memories are verified.
contains several shocking facts that had never been widely publicized.
|Publisher:||Global Book Sales|
|Product dimensions:||5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Simon Hammelburg has written cabaret songs from his early years. Hundreds of them were used to radio, television, records and CDs.
He originally worked as a journalist for the AVRO radio news. He was a presenter and traveling reporter. In the early eighties he became a correspondent for Dutch broadcasting companies, newspapers and magazines in New York.
In Los Angeles he became the Consul for Industry for the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Hammelburg contributed to various books, among which was ‘Mijn Jodendom’ (1980), edited by Dick Houwaart. In 1996 he published his own book ‘Kaddisj for Daisy, memories of Holocaust survivors and their children'.
Read an Excerpt
At the end of 1989 the Berlin wall collapsed. After the reunion of East and West Germany - on October 3rd, 1990 - expropriated properties by the DDR regime could be reclaimed. Furthermore, East German possessions confiscated by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945 became subject to compensation. The possessions ranged from movables, estates and works of art to factories, capital stock and bank accounts. The deadline for filing claims was December 31st, 1992.
At the time I lived in Los Angeles. In August of 1992 a friend visited me, Ingo Leetsch, an attorney who practices law in Bremen, Germany. As a non-Jewish German, born after WWII, he was most upset that the German government had provided insufficient publicity to the new ruling. The German government denied this. We decided to place a few small ads in the Jewish weeklies of greater Los Angeles. We simply offered to file claims, free of charge. People were invited to call me at home. I faxed my reports to Leetsch in Bremen, who filed the claims with the German Government. The press learned about it and soon articles appeared in over seven hundred publications throughout the United States.
During several months I received more than twelve hundred phone calls from Holocaust survivors and their children. Mostly lengthy monologues of which I made notes that became written interviews. Often the conversations were unrelated to the issue. On many occasions someone wanted to talk to a complete stranger who understood! All of these personal, touching and candid witness statements and memories were verified. During that process I discovered several shocking facts that had never been widely publicized.
After the project was finalized I found myself in the possession of a treasure of information, especially about the post-war generation. I felt the need to make these stories accessible to a larger audience, especially to youngsters; the adults of the future. In Holland and Belgium The War Never Ended had already found its way to into bookstores and - most importantly - high-schools and colleges. We all have the right to know about the psychological aftermath of Hitler’s genocide, which may never be forgotten. After publication of the Dutch version of The War Never Ended I received reactions from all over the world. Readers provided me with additional information that I used in this book. A woman born after the war told me that she had purchased 25 copies. She gave them to friends and relatives to explain emotions that she was unable to express herself. Parts of the book have been used in scientific lectures and studies by psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers at international professional conventions.
It is beyond belief that many Holocaust survivors received a heartless reception after the war and many of them live in deep poverty. A Palm Springs resident said: “I went through hell three times. First in Auschwitz, secondly after the war when I discovered that my entire family had been murdered and now I am unskilled and penniless.”
Therefore I urge “the powers that be” to assume the utmost urgency and consideration in helping to minimize the suffering of those who survived, before it is too late. They deserve it. Amongst them are innocent German victims of the circumstances and last but not least the almost forgotten former prisoners of Japanese concentration camps.
I salute Ingo Leetsch, the late Los Angeles based clinical psychologist Florabel Kinsler and psychiatrist Marjorie Braude for their analytical research while writing this book and for the professional help they provided to war victims. And all those that had the courage to share their most intimate memories with me, so that I could write this book for future generations.
Simon Hammelburg, September 2014
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The war did not end in 1945 when the victims of the Holocaust were released from the concentration camps or came out of their hiding places. Their children, the second generation, suffered as well in families that were trying but not able to function normally, as there was always fear, sadness and a missing of so many relatives glooming in the background. The survivors 'will never sleep in peace' for 'the ones who didn't make it are still around, they are still alive'. But the tragedy continues: also the children and even the grandchildren of the survivors had to cope with the consequences of this incomparable genocide. Outsiders do not know much about this transgenerational phenomenon; they do not notice it when meeting Jews from Europe. But who gets to know these children – actually they have passed their midlife – more intimately, notices that their lives are different. The Dutch journalist Simon Hammelburg has collected the memories of 1200 survivors; he presents the results of his investigation in this novel. The main figure loses his wife and travels to places where the couple has been happy before. He encounters his friends from the Zionist youth movement and together they share their memories of their difficult youth. Simon Hammelburg writes with a mixture of compassion and respect but also with humor, edged with a tear. He introduces the reader to a world of love and sorrow, of concern and loneliness. This book has become the more interesting now worldwide people are traumatized by violence and persecution. What will happen to their children when they are grown up?
Very well written book on the impact of WWII on the lives of survivors and their (grand)children. Having heard about the book by so many readers I decided to read Broken on the Inside. And I read it in one go. This is rather exceptional for me. It is not difficult to explain why the book grabbed my attention from beginning to end; it is a combination of the book's subjectmatter and the author's tone of voice. Never condemming or harsh, always full of understanding and never flowery. I can wholeheartedly recommend this book to anybody interested in the holocaust and holocaust survivors.
The Holocaust is perhaps my life's longest and most profound obsession. The sheer magnitude of it, its horrid design, its industrial execution, but most of all its roots and origins combined with its ongoing deep penetration of life today make it a subject I will always talk about. Not to mention the suffering... the endless suffering... . I read this book when I had just returned from walking the grounds of Majdanek Concentration Camp, making the read all the more tangible. Simon Hammelburg has chosen to tell of this reality in the most gripping way: The real life experiences of real people, told in the flow and context of ordinary day to day life and drudgery. Sharing how the Holocaust affects its victims and the children of victims and the childrens' children of victims today, as they sleep, as they wake, as they go to work, as they meet with friends, as they interact with Police or other authorities, as they live their ordinary lives. What makes this book so very confronting is that the honest reader will recognize some of the broken psychology in their own hearts. Many a time reading this book I was forced to reflect on my love for my wife, my care for my children, my involvement in my neighbors' lives, my contribution at the workplace. The Holocaust cut deep wounds in the personalities and make ups of its victims. But those wounds are nevertheless still human and to a much lesser extend ordinary life is capable of cutting such wounds into each of our hearts, and Hammelburg's account - in that sense - holds a mirror right in front of our own face. The honest and transparency with which Hammelburg writes has rarely been encountered by me. With complete vulnerability and equally complete avoidance of deliberate sensationalism he simply writes and writes, allowing us a truly honest look into his soul and the souls of those who shared their experiences with him. Hammelburg's book, for me, holds a #1 place in Holocaust literature. It ranks for me at par with giants like The Holocaust Chronicle, Eliezer Wiesel's Night, and the much lesser known The Auschwitz Volunteer by Witold Pilecki. Deeply grateful to Simon Hammelburg for granting us these memories.
From the first line on, this book kept me reading because of the exciting way , the persons are described and how they were acting in their stressful situation. Simon Hammelburg is writing sometimes ironically and very pictorial. By this, the content of the worst time in history is brought close to the reader . Now I understand (as German) some connections dealing with the Holocaust much better. Ich möchte das Buch jedem ans Herz legen, der an einem Zeitzeugnis über diesen schrecklichen Teil der jüngeren Geschichte interessiert ist . Dies ist ein spannendes Buch in dem die handelnden Personen den Zeitgeist vermitteln. Man kann sich schnell in den klaren englischen Text einlesen ----- sehr empfehlenswert.
Forever damaged A short while ago a good friend advised me to read the book ‘Broken on the inside – The War never ended’, written by Simon Hammelburg. Hammelburg describes the experiences of Holocaust survivors and their children, based on over 1,200 interviews with Holocaust survivors and their children. He projected breathtaking stories on fictional characters. The protagonist, a ‘second generation’ child of Jewish Holocaust survivors, totally unexpectedly loses his beloved wife in a traffic accident. His parents hardly talked about their dreadful experiences. Their pain, sorrow, sadness, anxieties, struggles and frustrations but yet passed it on to the next generation, during the upbringing of their children. He had an extremely tough childhood but loved his unfortunate parents. Hammelburg describes these feelings in striking words: ‘They survived the Holocaust on the outside. The inside was nearly destroyed, which shows on the outside. Not very pleasant but what can I do? I could be angry with Adolf Hitler but he no longer has a customer service to take complaints.’ At home, there was no space for having fun. As a child his only safe haven was the shabby clubhouse of the Zionist youth movement ‘Habonim Dror’ (Builders of Freedom) in Amsterdam. Children with a similar background came together, not just to learn about Israel and the Middle-East, Judaism, but especially to find shelter and mutual understanding that lacked in the outside world. The children called themselves the 'Partners in Crime'. What was their secret crime? They had untroubled fun. At home that would have been completely impossible, only upsetting their parents. After the sudden death of his beloved wife Daisy his life comes to a squeaking halt. He does not know how to proceed without her. The past and present haunt him. He decides to build a new past. First he returns to places in America where the two met. It is a journey of heartbreaking mourning, harrowing struggling with sadness but also cheer, insightfulness, when meeting friends, Holocaust survivors and people of his own, middle-aged generation. The revealing and conspicuous highlight is a coincidental reunion of the 'Partners in Crime' in a New York hotel. It becomes painfully obvious that these children of Holocaust survivors carry a heavy weight. Their upbringings by mentally broken parents, the suffering of their parents. The loneliness in a world that still doesn’t seem to care. Just like their parents, after the genocide lived in isolation, ran into a cold, often resentful indifferent reception at their homecoming. Despite these horrific summery, Hammelburg wrote the story in an airy, very appealing way, with a healthy dose of Jewish humor. The story ran as a movie through my thoughts. It definitely was the most touching and incisively book I read for a long time. I just had to read the book again. Even more I relived the emotions, the mechanism of misunderstanding and exclusion, the ultimate loneliness. The scars of the Holocaust still linger on. From generation to generation. Mentally and physically. Meanwhile victims of other conflicts are being traumatized or on the run. Everyone should read this book. To increase understanding of Holocaust survivors and their offspring, but also to slightly comprehend what will happen to the victims of present violence, their exclusion and misunderstanding. And to their offspring. I believe this book be mandatory learning material in schools.