‘The Lost: The Search for Six of Six Million’

I recently finished reading Daniel Mendelsohn’s book The Lost: The Search for Six of Six Million about his search for what happened to six of his relatives during the Holocaust. He searched specifically for the fates of relatives who lived in Bolekhiv, Ukraine, a place where his Jewish ancestors settled many centuries ago. His research took him all over the world, visiting places where the tragic events happened and meeting survivors who he hoped would be able to share with him specific details about these relatives and what happened to them. It was a very well written and engaging story, both his own journey and search, but also the story of his relatives.

I highly recommend this memoir as a good source from which to learn what exactly happened to the Jews of one particular town in Galicia. It’s these personal stories that really touch you, the people become no longer just part of a statistic of all the people who perished during the war, but people you feel you knew. During his journey he made a point of trying to learn specific details of his relatives, what kind of people they were when they were alive. This makes their fate and loss more personal, that much more difficult to apprehend. It’s important to remember that each person who died had a life like anyone else, had people who they loved and who loved them, had dreams, had ambitions…

As I read the book, I could relate to the author’s desire to search for whatever is left of that old world, of his relatives, of their lives, to glean as much information as possible before it’s too late. This is the same desire I have both in researching my family history as well as in searching for the physical traces of the what remains from that lost world, the results of which I post on this blog.

An NPR article about the book, along with an excerpt, can be found here,
Reviews of the book can be found here.

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