Like Anne Frank, Hilde Jacobsthal was born in Germany and brought up in Amsterdam, where the two families became close. Unlike Anne Frank, she survived the war, and Otto Frank was to become godfather to Rita, her first daughter. I am the child of a woman who survived the Holocaust not by the skin of her teeth but heroically. This book tells the story of my mother’s dramatic life before, during and after the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands in 1940. I wrote Motherland because I wanted to understand a story which had become a kind of family myth. My mother’s life could be seen as a narrative of the twentieth century; along with my father she was present and active at many of its significant moments.” Rita Goldberg Hilde Jacobsthal was fifteen when the Nazis invaded Holland. After the arrest of her parents in 1943 she fled to Belgium, where she went into hiding and worked with the Resistance at night. She was liberated by the American army in 1944. In April 1945 she volunteered with a British Red Cross Unit to go to the relief of Bergen-Belsen, which had itself been liberated one week before her arrival. The horror and devastation were overwhelming, but despite her shock and grief she stayed at the camp for two years, helping with the enormous task of recovery. Sorrow and exuberance went hand in hand as the young people at Belsen found renewed life and each other. Hilde got to know Hanns Alexander (subject of the recently published Hanns and Rudolf), who was on the British War Crimes Commission, and, eventually, a Swiss doctor called Max Goldberg. Motherland is the culmination of a lifetime of reflection and a decade of research. Rita Goldberg enlarges the story she heard from her mother with historical background. She has talked with her about the minutest details of her life and pored over her papers, exploring not only her mother's life but her own. Complicated feelings are explored lightly as Rita takes the story beyond Bergen-Belsen, where paradoxically her parents met and fell in love; beyond Israel’s War of Independence where they both volunteered, and on to the next chapter of their lives in the US. A deeply moving story, Motherland will become an essential text about World War II, the Holocaust and the survival of the spirit.
Number Of Pages: 356
Published: 27th January 2014