Last year I fulfilled a life long ambition to visit Auschwitz which I found a haunting and moving experience. I have been fascinated by the events of the Holocaust for fifty years and with November 9th the anniversary of Kristallnacht (the night of the broken glass), what better day to host a guest post from Adena Bernstein Astrowsky, author of Living Among the Dead, My Grandmother’s Survival Story of Love and Strength? Adena is telling us what her purpose is in her books.
Released by Amsterdam Publishers on 29th February 2020, Living Among the Dead is available for purchase through the links here.
Living Among the Dead, My Grandmother’s Survival Story of Love and Strength
This is the story of one remarkable young woman’s unimaginable journey through the rise of the Nazi regime, the Second World War, and the aftermath. Mania Lichtenstein’s dramatic story of survival is narrated by her granddaughter and her memories are interwoven with beautiful passages of poetry and personal reflection. Holocaust survivor Mania Lichtenstein used writing as a medium to deal with the traumatic effects of the war.
Many Jews did not die in concentration camps, but were murdered in their lifelong communities, slaughtered by mass killing units, and then buried in pits. As a young girl, Mania witnessed the horrors while doing everything within her power to subsist. She lived in Włodzimierz, north of Lvov (Ukraine), was interned for three years in the labor camp nearby, managed to escape and hid in the forests until the end of the war.
Although she was the sole survivor of her family, Mania went on to rebuild a new life in the United States, with a new language and new customs, always carrying with her the losses of her family and her memories.
Seventy-five years after liberation, we are still witnessing acts of cruelty born out of hatred and discrimination. Living among the Dead reminds us of the beautiful communities that existed before WWII, the lives lost and those that lived on, and the importance to never forget these stories so that history does not repeat itself.
Lessons from the Past
A Guest Post by Adena Bernstein Astrowsky
Nearly seventy-five years after liberation, we are still witnessing acts of cruelty born out of hatred and discrimination. My message in Living among the Dead is to remind people of the beautiful communities that existed before World War II, the lives lost and those that lived on, and the importance to never forget these stories so that history does not repeat itself. Like most members of my generation, born three decades after the end of World War II, I came to my own story with almost no real understanding of the plight of Jews in the Holocaust, much less that of my own grandmother. With no real, personal connection to the Holocaust, I think it is unrealistic to expect others to have much more than a brief, general understanding of the genocide that occurred. Additionally, as time goes on, this will be even less so because as we get further away from World War II, and fewer Survivors living, we will have less and less memoirs dedicated to detailing their stories of survival in the first person. As such, we will become more dependent on others to write these non-fiction books. Likely, more second and third generation survivors will need to take over the task of learning the Survivor’s history, researching the historical context, and writing their story. Doing so will be imperative in order to keep their stories alive and help future generations by learning what is at stake if we don’t stand up against discrimination.
Hatred and bigotry led to the worst genocide in world history. While there are so many lessons to be learned from the Holocaust, such as empathy, tolerance, and universal acceptance, we are instead facing an uptick in antisemitism. Jews are being targeted and antisemitism is as real today as it was during World War II. As we get farther and farther removed from the Holocaust, trying to apply the lessons of the past when facing the issues of today will become a major challenge. We need a constant reminder of what unchecked hatred can lead to. That is why testimonials and stories such as my grandmother’s are so important today. They speak of hope, resilience, love, and determination.
Given recent events across Europe Adena, I fear you may well be right. What we need now in the world is peace, understanding and tolerance. Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us.
About Adena Bernstein Astrowsky
Adena Astrowsky has dedicated her career to helping the most vulnerable of our society. She did this by prosecuting child sexual abuse cases and domestic violence cases within the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. She became Maricopa County’s expert concerning the prosecution of domestic violence related strangulation cases and taught extensively on that subject. Adena taught Sunday School at her temple for eight years, with the last two years co-teaching “Character Development Through the Studies of the Holocaust.”
Once a month Adena volunteers at the local Scottsdale library with her therapy dog, Charlie, as part of the Tail Waggin’ Tales Program. Adena has also chaired events to raise money for the Emily Center of Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Recently, Adena was recognized for her professional and philanthropic work with an Amazing Woman Award from the Phoenix Suns and National Bank of Arizona.
Adena’s greatest role, however, is as the mother of three very active children. She, and her husband, Brad, are kept very busy with their respective dance, theater, music, and athletic activities.