Some of the rarest, most tragic and appealing letters during the years of the Holocaust were those written by family members left behind, to those who managed to escape. In 1940, when she was seven years old, Ida Luftig left Slovakia for Palestine with her parents and sister. Most of her family stayed behind and either survived – or perished – almost by chance.
Sixty-five years later, in a shoe-box, she found letters and telegrams written to herparents between 1940 and 1945 by family members in Europe. They told tales of anguish, hope and despair. Ida has spent the last two years translating these letters and placing them in the context of the horrors of the war. She has recreated a family and a time – from carefree garden parties and tennis, to departure for the foreign country that was Palestine. This book gives the reader a rare glimpse into two worlds: one of ravaged Jewry in Europe and one of the country that was to become Israel.
"I couldn't stop reading. It is really a most exciting and valuable addition to not only Holocaust Literatute but to literature in general. The way you combine actual letters and historical background is a new venture and I certainly will recommend it to all my students and friends."
Author, Associate Professor of Holocaust Studies
Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
Ida Luftig was born in Slovakia into a prosperous and loving family. In March 1940, thanks to family money, her parents obtained a visa for Palestine and left with her and her sister. Their escape would not have been possible two months later. Ida Luftig grew up in Palestine and, for four and a half years, watched her parents anxiously awaiting letters from their families in Slovakia and Hungary. She later experienced the thrill of the birth of the State of Israel and served in the Israeli army’s fledgling intelligence service. Ida graduated from the University of Geneva’s Interpreters’ School and came to the U.S. to work in the international finance sector. Changing careers, she obtained a graduate degree in education and also returned to the painting and photography that she had studied in Israel. As an educator, she tested and diagnosed children with learning difficulties. Ida was a young, single parent after the death of her first husband, until she met and married Paul Luftig, a single parent himself.
After her mother’s death in 2005, Ida found the correspondence from Slovakia and Hungary. This book is the result of the deep emotions Ida felt upon reading the letters. “I wrote it for all the children and grandchildren in our family,” she says, “but also to evoke for readers the image of a lost past and of the lasting pain of survivors.”