Two Roads Home:  Hitler, Stalin, and the Miraculous Survival of My Family

 By Daniel Finkelstein

Written by:
Lewis Whittington
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“Two Roads Home” by Times of London journalist Daniel Finkelstein recounts the fates of his Jewish grandparents and his parents, victims of fascist regimes during WWII, like
millions of other Jews and other targeted citizens in Europe who were brutally rounded up and transported to forced labor/ deathcamps.

Finklestein’s parents Mirjam and Ludwick, are Holocaust survivors. They met and fell in love after the war. In its journalistic clarity and scope, their son Daniel has documented the fates of not on only his family members, but many other members of their home communities and fellow victims of Stalin and Hitler’s fascist regimes.

His father, Ludwik, grew up in a prosperous Jewish family in Poland, and his grandfather, Dolu, was a national hero during WWI, but when Stalin took control of Poland after the
Soviet-Nazi pact he was deported to Siberia, and Ludwik and his mother, Lucia, were sent to forced labor camp in Kazakhstan, were they barely survived starvation and exposure during the where they were imprisoned in a farmhouse stable.

Daniel’s grandmother Grete was raising her three daughters Ruth, Ethel and her youngest Mirjam (Daniel’s mother) in a safe house in Amsterdam. Their father Dr. Alfred Wiener, ss early as the mid-30s, he warned of the impeding Holocaust and the rise of antisemitic nationalism. During the London Blitz, Wiener’s office was relocated to New York, briefed the Britian’s officials on Nazi crimes and propaganda. his research library and the first Holocaust archive. His wife, Greta and daughters thought they would be safe in Amsterdam while Alfred tried to secure their visas to join him in the US. But all such arrangements were nullified but when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands.

Afred continued his research debriefing the Allies on German intelligence for the British government, while Greta Wiener and their daughters were sent to German camps (eventually to the notorious Bergen-Belson) and survived in dire conditions for almost two years. The specifics of his family’s survival through WWII is indeed powerful testament vis-à-vis the current shifts in the world order.

In addition to being a noted journalist, Finklestein was a political advisor to British Prime Minister Harold Major, points out geopolitical parallels to the current rise in the emergence of authoritarian and fascist leaders in this century.

In his preface to “Two Roads Home” Finkelstein writes, he “I think it’s time that I told the story of my mother and father and their parents. To describe what happened to them and why.” It is a cautionary family history that speaks to the current state of global geopolitics- “What happened to my parents isn’t about to happen to me. It isn’t about to happen to my children. But could it? It could, absolutely. It could.”

In its journalistic clarity and scope, documenting the fates of not on only his family members, but many other members of their home communities and fellow victims of Stalin and Hitler regimes. Facts that could have been lost in the fog of the war or deliberately rewritten or, in the case of the Soviets, completely erased history.

The specifics of his family’s struggle for survival is indeed powerful testament vis-à-vis the current rise in authoritarian governments. It is also witness to their courage, dignity, humanity in the face of deportation, starvation, brutality. They lost everything before their liberation. But one thing they never lost, as this stirring memoir their unbreakable humanity and will to survive.

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