Commitment to the Dead: One Woman's Journey Toward Understanding
Judith Viorst - Book
In this considerate and curiously detached autobiography, Waterford, an Auschwitz survivor, tells of her wartime experiences and life since then. During most of the Nazi occupation of Holland, she and her first husband were hidden by gentile friends in Amsterdam, but in 1944 they were discovered by the Gestapo and shipped to Westerbork transit camp. From there, they were sent to Auschwitz, where Waterford's husband died. After liberation, she and her daughter, who had been living near Amsterdam with a gentile family, immigrated to the United States. In 1979, the author began lecturing about the Holocaust at schools and universities, and her decision to appear jointly with Alfons Heck, an ex-Hitler Youth member, drew criticism from the Jewish community. Here Waterford explains her position, maintaining that history should be taught "free from hatred" and that some Germans have accepted "a burden of guilt for the atrocities of the period." She also includes illuminating questions asked by her young audiences.