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How My Family’s History Helps My Perspective On Now

Dolly Hertz July 2020

Lifestyle Kuel Life Contributor: Dolly Hertz

I am a child of the Holocaust.

I’m a 60-something grandma who lives in Westchester and works in Manhattan, but yes, it’s true. Born in the ‘50s, in New York, to parents who escaped Nazi Europe. And, reared in the family home by grandparents, aunt and uncle, as well as my parents.

Nothing about my home or my upbringing resembled my schoolmates’.”

Nothing about my home or my upbringing resembled my schoolmates’. My family lived just as they had in Berlin, then Milan, with the furniture, rugs, and, tableware that had been shipped (and arrived!) when my aunt and mother were sent to New York, in their early twenties, sans their parents. Parents who were among thousands denied visas under US policy in 1938.

My grandparents managed to get passage on a leaky boat to Palestine, where they were detained in a British refugee camp for 6 months. My father, whose parents and siblings were deported to concentration camp on Kristallnacht in 1938, was hidden by a Christian family and emigrated to Shanghai. He was among 18,000 European Jews, later known as the Shanghai Jews.

Stranger in a strange land, homeless, grieving the loss of his entire family, he made a life for himself in Shanghai. He lived through the bombing during the Sino-Japanese War and tried for nine years to get a sponsor and then a visa for America.

My grandfather, before leaving Europe, continued to make trips across the border from Milan to Berlin. He attempted to convince his mother to leave Germany. There were many tales of near capture by the Nazis, yet these were peppered with his prideful bravado of accomplishing the unthinkable time and again.

What’s bringing the past to mind now?

When I’m feeling fearful and frustrated these days, I often think about my family and realize that this difficult year will end”

The current Covid pandemic, of course.

Every time I think about what we all are living through, a kind of deprivation we’ve never known in our comfortable lives, I think about my family escaping from Hitler in the 30s and 40s. That they prevailed; survived; emigrated; started new lives; learned a new language; and found a way to work and to prosper; seems nothing short of miraculous. And, makes our current situation, difficult and often heartbreaking, seem ever more endurable by comparison.

When I’m feeling fearful and frustrated these days, I often think about my family and realize that this difficult year will end and that I, too, can survive. Humbled, changed, hopeful.

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About the Author:

Dolly Hertz is a real estate broker in NYC, an empty-nester, a mom and a grandma. She is a single woman of a certain age, trying to live her best life humbly and authentically. Her greatest pleasure is to be of service wherever possible. You can follow Dolly on Instagram; connect with her on LinkedIn and check-out her real estate website Engel & Volkers

14 thoughts on “How My Family’s History Helps My Perspective On Now

  1. lynn jacobson says:

    Awesome and inspiring! Whenever I need a reality check, I’ll think of your amazing story and gain some perspective.

  2. Diane Ramey says:

    True let an amazing story as you are a person. Your analogy is spot on and could not agree more. Hope one day we can connect again. You inspire me! Terry sends his best and the dog he did not like finally took a dirt nap. Thought you would appreciate that as sad as it is. You look fabulous!

    • Dolly Hertz says:

      You are the best, Diane, as always! I adore you and Terry and wish we were not so geographically challenged !

  3. Hazel Gurdus says:

    Love your family story and how you are relating to it during these crazy times! Stay healthy, safe, and always positive.

    • Dolly Hertz says:

      Love hearing from you, Hazel and thank you for reading. I follow you on FB so I see that you and yours are well!

  4. Donna Markell says:

    Touching story of perseverance. It makes the background story of our current predicament evermore significant. Your family’s struggles must be honored, not only because of what they sacrificed to be free and how that strength was demonstrated, but also, because of them your family survived. We can honor them in our fortitude and the continued effort to have an inclusive society which respects all races religions and treats them with equal value.

  5. Joanne Makuch says:

    Dolly, Love your name. We were very close to Gerda and Eric, through Greta. Very nice script.

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