A hidden child bears witness
February 05th, 2015
M. Rene Goldman, who taught at UBC and retired to Summerland, is a childhood survivor of the holocaust. His self-published memoir is Childhood on the Move: Memoirs of a child-survivor of the Holocaust (2014). He writes:
“This book is more than a narration of my life during the sadly unforgettable years of the Shoah, when death lay in wait for me at every turn of a winding road for no cause other than my Jewish birth. I deem it nothing short of miraculous that I survived that time of anguish and pain.
“I survived in the shadow of terror across three countries in succession: Luxembourg, where I was born, Belgium, where my parents thought we had found refuge in 1940, and France, where I suffered the most tragic moments of my life, notably the successive loss of my mother and my father.
“It was in France, where the government and its police collaborated so zealously with the “Final Solution”, that I experienced my own closest brush with death. More than half of my book is devoted to the years in which I grew up in France: from 1942 to 1950.
“From my recollections of the years when the necessity to evade the ubiquitous threat required that I be moved “from pillar to post”, I proceed to an account of the years that followed the Second World War, when I was raised in a succession of children’s homes (orphanages) in France, then lived for three years in Poland, where I completed my secondary education and next, began my university studies in China. All told, this memoir encompasses the first twenty years of my life.
“This book is, however, no bare chronological narrative; woven into the tapestry of my recollections are observations on the historical events and Zeitgeist that impacted my destiny, besides passing reflections concerning politics, culture, and life in general.
“I bear witness to a tragedy unprecedented in history, during which six million Jews, including my entire family in Poland, with the single exception of one uncle, were murdered in cold blood. I seek here to offer my modest contribution to the perpetuation of the memory of that tragedy in the fervent hope that it will neither be forgotten, nor denied. May present and future readers find in these memoirs matter for reflection and, perhaps will some discover in them an avenue of research.
“I belong to the generation of survivors, who in the 1980s received recognition as a class different from that of adult survivors of the Shoah. We are known as the “child-survivors”, who were too young to comprehend why the Nazis and their collaborators across Europe waged a war of extermination against us. We are also known as the “hidden children”, since we survived in hiding in various ways, mainly under the protection of caring Gentiles.
“Like many of my peers, I have over the decades written and spoken publicly in schools, universities, churches, about my personal experience as a child-survivor of the Shoah. My family and people of various walks of life have encouraged me to write my story. Thus motivated, I put pen to paper in the late evening of my life.”