Addy Kurc tried desperately to make it home from France to his small Polish town of Radom for Passover, but in March of 1939, as Hitler and his German army was blocking travel through Europe, this was not to be. The Kurc family tried to feign normalcy, going through the familiar seder rituals, but each of the members of this tight-knit family sensed that there was something about to change in their world. Never, could they have imagined the horrors they would be facing, however, as Poland would be complicit in the anihiliation of millions of Jewish people along with Germany. And never would they believe how far they’d travel and how many years it would be until they would be celebrating Passover together again as a Kurc family.
I wasn’t looking for a Holocaust novel, and when I realized that that is what this was, I almost put it aside. But the writing was so compelling I couldn’t. There was something about this story, about these characters, that I had to continue with it. I had to know if Addy was reunited with his family. I had to know if each of his siblings (and there were 5 altogether) survived the war, and if his baby niece actually made it through as well. And how, if it were at all possible, would his parents survive the war, as they were elderly although not frail when the war broke out. The characters were very compelling and each went through such harrowing experiences.
And that was even before I knew that the story was true! Addy was the grandfather of the author!
I know that especially in this very difficult time, when we hear about hate in the news almost every day, with racial tensions, police brutality, shootings, and hate and bias incidents, it is hard to read about the Holocaust. On the other hand, I feel it is crucial in this time not to forget what it can grow to be. We cannot get complacent and think the it can’t get there again.
That’s what they believed in Radom in 1939.