The Peppermint Train: Journey to a German-Jewish Childhoodby Edgar E. Stern
"Stern's personal search for his past is emblematic of a generation of survivors torn from what had been--until the onslaught of the Nazis--a pleasant childhood. Stern's narrative is lucid; his . . . naïvete is an essential part of the book's charm. The boy that Stern had been is in dialogue with the trained and sophisticated therapist that he has become
"Stern's personal search for his past is emblematic of a generation of survivors torn from what had been--until the onslaught of the Nazis--a pleasant childhood. Stern's narrative is lucid; his . . . naïvete is an essential part of the book's charm. The boy that Stern had been is in dialogue with the trained and sophisticated therapist that he has become."--Dr. Michael Berenbaum, Project Director, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
"A poignant account of how a child, deeply hurt by terrible experiences, becomes 'father to the man,' and how the man was driven to discover him. This work adds a dimension, alternately somber and moving, to our understanding both of the Holocaust and of how each of us must, at times, confront long-buried, painful elements of our own pasts."--Robert A. Pois, University of Colorado at Boulder
This sensitive memoir, written by an American psychotherapist, tells the story of a pre-Holocaust refugee's return to Germany, a journey that becomes both a pilgrimage to his childhood and an anguished search to understand it.
Stern fled the Nazis with his parents in 1936 when he was nine, leaving behind an idyllic German village, relatives who were to be killed in the gas chambers, and buried memories. When he unearths his memories forty-seven years later, his recollections set loose the nightmares that provoke two painful return visits to the town of Speyer, one with his wife in 1983 and another with his son in 1985.
Confronted with long-forgotten places and reunions with relatives and childhood playmates, Stern struggles to repossess what he had loved as a child. A charming narrow-gauge railway that carried him back and forth to his grandparents' village becomes the metaphor for his agonizing ambivalence: while Stern's central memory of Germany was the Peppermint Train, he knows that the critical experience for so many others, including some of his relatives, was a train to a death camp.
Questions about prejudice, mass violence, the human condition, and the Holocaust begin to haunt him--and remain unanswered. Bringing his training as a therapist to bear on his experience, however, Stern examines his own motives in taking the trip, achieves a new understanding of his parents, and reaches some peace with his cultural history.
Edgar E. Stern is a clinical social worker who has practiced counseling and psychotherapy at mental health centers, hospitals, and family service agencies and in private practice. He has published scholarly papers in professional journals and more than fifty articles on mental health for general readers.
- University Press of Florida
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.77(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.91(d)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews