Looking For Strangers: The True Story Of My Hidden Wartime Childhood

Hardcover | September 24, 2013

byDori Katz

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Dori Katz is a Jewish Holocaust survivor who thought that her lost memories of her childhood years in Belgium were irrecoverable. But after a chance viewing of a documentary about hidden children in German-occupied Belgium, she realized that she might, in fact, be able to unearth those years. Looking for Strangers is the deeply honest record of her attempt to do so, a detective story that unfolds through one of the most horrifying periods in history in an attempt to understand one’s place within it.

In alternating chapters, Katz journeys into multiple pasts, setting details from her mother’s stories that have captivated her throughout her life alongside an account of her own return to Belgium forty years later—against her mother’s urgings—in search of greater clarity. She reconnects her sharp but fragmented memories: being sent by her mother in 1943, at the age of three, to live with a Catholic family under a Christian identity; then being given up, inexplicably, to an orphanage in the years immediately following the war. Only after that, amid postwar confusion, was she able to reconnect with her mother. Following this trail through Belgium to her past places of hiding, Katz eventually finds herself in San Francisco, speaking with a man who claimed to have known her father in Auschwitz—and thus known his end. Weighing many other stories from the people she meets along her way—all of whom seem to hold something back—she attempts to stitch thread after thread into a unified truth, to understand the countless motivations and circumstances that determined her remarkable life.

A story at once about self-discovery, the transformation of memory, a fraught mother-daughter relationship, and the oppression of millions, Looking for Strangers is a book of both historical insight and imaginative grasp. It is a book in which the past, through its very mystery, becomes alive, immediate—of the most urgent importance.

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From the Publisher

Dori Katz is a Jewish Holocaust survivor who thought that her lost memories of her childhood years in Belgium were irrecoverable. But after a chance viewing of a documentary about hidden children in German-occupied Belgium, she realized that she might, in fact, be able to unearth those years. Looking for Strangers is the deeply honest ...

Dori Katz is professor emeritus of modern languages and literature at Trinity College, Hartford, CT. She is a translator of several books from the French and a poet. Her most recent collection of poems is Hiding in Other People’s Houses. 
Format:HardcoverDimensions:184 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.8 inPublished:September 24, 2013Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022605862X

ISBN - 13:9780226058627

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Table of Contents

Preface
 
Introduction
As If It Were Yesterday, 1982
Jezów, 1918
Antwerp: A Wedding, 1938
Beersel, 1982
Antwerp: A Marriage, 1938
Brussels, 1942
Brussels, 1982
Close Calls, 1942
Astrid and Dori in Hiding, 1943
Jeanne, 1983
La Hulpe, 1982
San Francisco, 1985
Conclusion
 
Acknowledgments

Editorial Reviews

“What sets this Holocaust story apart is its compelling honesty in dealing with the family’s wartime and postwar experiences and with thorny issues that are seldom discussed but exist in varying degrees within all families of survivors. . . . It took four decades for Dori Katz to return to Belgium and another few decades for her to write this story. We’re so glad she did! Few Holocaust accounts delve as deeply as this one.”