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The Unanswered Letter: One Holocaust Family's Desperate Plea for Help

The Unanswered Letter: One Holocaust Family's Desperate Plea for Help

by Faris Cassell
The Unanswered Letter: One Holocaust Family's Desperate Plea for Help

The Unanswered Letter: One Holocaust Family's Desperate Plea for Help

by Faris Cassell


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In 1939, as the Nazis closed in, Alfred Berger mailed a desperate letter to an American stranger who happened to share his last name. He and his wife, Viennese Jews, had found escape routes for their daughters. But now their money, connections, and emotional energy were nearly exhausted. Alfred begged the American recipient of the letter, “You are surely informed about the situation of all Jews in Central Europe.... By pure chance I got your address.... My daughter and her husband will go... to America.... Help us to follow our children.... It is our last and only hope....”

After languishing in a California attic for decades, Alfred’s letter ended up in the hands of Faris Cassell, a journalist who couldn’t rest until she discovered the ending of the story. Traveling across the United States as well as to Austria, the Czech Republic, Belarus, and Israel, she uncovered an extraordinary story of heart-wrenching loss and unforgettable love that endures to this day.

Did the Bergers’ desperate letter find a response? Did they—and their daughters—survive? Did they leave living descendants?

You will find the answers here.

A story that will move any reader, The Unanswered Letter is a poignant reminder that love and hope never die.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781684510177
Publisher: Regnery History
Publication date: 09/01/2020
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,158,734
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

FARIS CASSELL, a journalist and writer, lives with her husband in Eugene, Oregon. She earned a B.A. in history from Mount Holyoke College and an M.S. in journalism from the University of Oregon. Her first book, The Unanswered Letter, was the winner of the National Jewish Book Award in 2021.

Table of Contents

The Letter xiv

Berger Family Trees xvii

Foreword xix

Introduction The Letter xxi

Part I

Chapter 1 Ordinary People 3

Chapter 2 The Search Begins 11

Chapter 3 Who Are You? 17

Chapter 4 We Meet 25

Chapter 5 Different Worlds 33

Chapter 6 Home 47

Chapter 7 The Vienna Room 57

Chapter 8 Celia's World 79

Chapter 9 The Cache of Letters 95

Chapter 10 Vienna Bound 101

Part II

Chapter 11 Gilded City 115

Chapter 12 To Schmalzhofgasse 125

Chapter 13 Turnings 139

Chapter 14 Alarm 147

Part III

Chapter 15 Anschluss 157

Chapter 16 The Violence Worsens 169

Chapter 17 Escape 181

Chapter 18 Roundup 195

Chapter 19 Kristallnacht 211

Chapter 20 Exit 223

Chapter 21 "Dear Madam" 239

Part IV

Chapter 22 Hope 255

Chapter 23 War 271

Chapter 24 France-America-Vienna 289

Chapter 25 Distance 301

Chapter 26 War Fever 313

Chapter 27 Precarious 327

Chapter 28 Bitter 343

Chapter 29 A Lifeline Severed 365

Part V

Chapter 30 Mean Streets 387

Chapter 31 Vienna-Minsk 399

Part VI

Chapter 32 Moments 407

Chapter 33 The Present 417

Epilogue 427

Acknowledgments 433

Reader's Guide 439

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