Not being a professional writer, this is my first and probably last book. After a fulfilling career contributing to the high-tech industry as an engineer and raising my family, I determined that I needed to memorialize my parents’ tribulations as Nazi slave captives. After they had already passed from the world, and after I retired and enjoyed much free time, I took the role as scribe to narrate their true-life stories. These had been lingering in my soul from childhood and they called to me to fulfill this sacred duty.
Though not primarily a writer, my technical duties included much documenting of complex specifications, user manuals, theoretical explanations, patents, etc. Furthermore, I did do some literary writing in high school and college, for which I received some acclaim. Therefore, I felt qualified to undertake this task of recording the events of this book. While acknowledging my authorship, I chose to present these stories through my father’s first-person voice. This draws the reader into his world and predicament, as a first-hand experience.
My father used to narrate episodes of his saga throughout my youth, starting when I was a small child. From these, I learned of his traumatic history, as well as the loss of his entire large family, none of whom I would ever meet. This includes my eight aunts and uncles, and four grandparents. He also left me some documents, voice recordings, and a public witness video. From this information, I was able to delineate his chronicle. My mother also presented her experiences, included in the book, but of much lessor content. She had difficulty discussing this topic.
From my early years, I sensed that my family had an unusual background, quite distinct from most of our neighbors. Firstly, in our house, foreign languages were primarily spoken. Further, there was a strange and total absence of immediate relatives, in contrast to others around us. Also, my parents’ entire circle of friends had almost these exact same characteristics, which strongly distinguished this group. This contributed to my understanding that these people had a similar history of shared trauma as they clung together, forming a tight network of support. My parents always gravitated to such gatherings, even when we moved from Connecticut to California. They always sought out their compatriots with similar backgrounds. Thus, I grew up perpetually embedded in this community of “greeneh” (greenhorns as they called themselves in their new country).
With great solemnity and a sense of duty, I undertook the writing of this book as a matter of tribute and memorialization. I sought to honor my parents, their heroic endurance, and perseverance. I also commemorate those family members who were martyred, as well as the huge number of other victims of this historical epoch who left no one to remember their names.
About Under My Bubbe’s Wings
This is a true-life memoir of defiant endurance through cruelty and traumatic loss, leading to ultimate survival. The author presents his father’s ordeals during five and a half years of Nazi captivity during the Holocaust. Included is a section of his mother’s similar experiences, although limited by her difficulty in discussing this topic.
As the title infers, throughout, he perceives the aura of his late grandma’s spirit protecting him with her angelic wings, as vowed in an early vision. Besides the brutal forced labor, extreme hunger, and massive life upheaval, there are numerous near-death escapes. He consistently feels luck being steered his way. With this fortune, perseverance, and daring, he ends up as the lone survivor of his large family. A similar outcome applies to the author’s mother.
Narrated from a first-person viewpoint, it depicts forced migrations, Warsaw ghetto internment, and an ever worsening struggle to survive. Finally he must endure a series of Nazi camps for years until Russian liberation brings the war’s end. He becomes aware of the complete loss of family, being alone in the world in his early twenties. Finally free, DP camp life offers renewal, marriage, USA migration, and starting over.
In this hellish environment, often the salvation of one person was paid for by the demise of another. Injustice was the norm, as the better fortune for some was frequently undercut by the intense misfortune of others. Eventually, tragedy found its way to most in the end. It was a matter of time. Searching for any fairness or justice in these settings is pointless. The incident where my fellow digger was beaten instead of me illustrates this completely. There one prisoner paid with his life for an innocent mishap (the dirt caving in) which he did not cause, while another (me, in that case) was passed over and spared. Had I been the victim, it would also have been an equally undeserving and grave injustice. As perplexing and disturbing as these situations seem, the truth of these occurrences cannot be white-washed. This was
the stark reality that cannot be denied or wished away. Another vivid and haunting near-fatal encounter at a
different camp comes to mind…
Iser Flaum is a retired systems engineer who worked for various companies in high tech development roles throughout his career. His work resulted in several patents as well as contributing to the creation of various products. He raised his family in Southern California. Given the leisure afforded by his retired state, the yearning to tell the story of his parents’ Holocaust experiences called to him from the past. This resulted in his publishing “Under My Bubbe’s Wings.”
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