Saving What Remains: A Holocaust Survivor's Journey Home to Reclaim Her Ancestry

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9781599215464: Saving What Remains: A Holocaust Survivor's Journey Home to Reclaim Her Ancestry

A Holocaust survivor’s moving account of her return to Europe to disinter her ancestors for reburial in the Holy Land.

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From the Inside Flap:

When Livia Bitton-Jackson returned in 1980 to her childhood town of Samorin, Czechoslovakia, on the Danube River, she was no ordinary tourist: Thirty-six years earlier, as a thirteen-year-old girl in what was then the Hungarian town of Somorja, she and her family had been deported to Auschwitz.
 
In Saving What Remains, a best-selling memoirist tells a moving and beautifully written story about disinterring the past so that it will never be forgotten. Bitton-Jackson’s gripping, present-tense account traces her return to the land she and her Jewish community loved when she was a child, a land that now—decades after the Holocaust’s devastation—contained only the remnants of a once-thriving Jewish culture.
 
What remained in Samorin was a Jewish cemetery where the bodies of Livia’s grandparents rested. And yet a new dam on the Danube would soon flood the graveyard, permanently obliterating the last traces of her family’s long sojourn in Europe. At her elderly mother’s request, Livia and her husband left from Israel on a precarious quest: to exhume the family remains from behind the Iron Curtain—where Communist favors came at a price, and where revelations awaited—and bring them to Israel for reburial. The trip brought back memories both joyful and horrifying for Livia.
 
Written in the tradition of the Jewish Book Award finalist Motherland: Beyond the Holocaust, Livia Bitton-Jackson’s Saving What Remains is a heart-wrenching story of a Holocaust survivor’s return to her childhood home decades after surviving Auschwitz. It explores how traces of the Holocaust mark both the landscape and the population despite the utter annihilation of Jewish culture in so much of Europe—while also serving as a poignant and powerful reminder of the debts we owe our ancestors.

From the Back Cover:

A Holocaust survivor’s moving account of her return to Europe to disinter her ancestors for reburial in the Holy Land     Praise for Livia Bitton-Jackson’s best-selling I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust
 “An exceptional story, exceptionally well told.”
—Publishers Weekly
  “If Ann Frank had been able to write about her life after the Germans arrested her family . . . the result might very well resemble Livia Bitton-Jackson’s I Have Lived a Thousand Years.”—Jerusalem Post     An excerpt from Saving What Remains
The car speeds along the coastal road . . . past avocado fields and orange groves, toward Ben-Gurion Airport. More than two years have passed since that night, when Mother confided her fervent wish and charged me with a solemn task. 
   “The Czechoslovak government is planning to build a dam on the Danube. . . . Once the dam is built, the entire countryside will be flooded. The region alongside the river will be underwater.”
    “And?”
    “The Jewish cemetery is there. It will be flooded. All the graves . . .”
    My heart filled with pain. My mother’s pain has for years been my pain. We were like one, my mother and I. Ever since our time together in the Nazi death camps, there has been no clear demarcation line between our two selves.

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Bitton-Jackson, Livia
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