Naomi Litvin

 

We Never Lost Hope: A Holocaust Memoir and Love Story

Edith, Hilda, and Mendi were the youngest children of Jonas and Regina Festinger. The three siblings recount their story of Nazi murder, subjugation, and slavery that, by Nazi design, was a means to eradicate the Jews of Hungary.

Naomi Litvin has taken on the responsibility of insuring this story is told. She has put together these narratives as they were told by her Mother Edith, Aunt Hilda, her Uncle Mendi, Brother in-law Kurt Meyers (husband of Piri), and her Father, Nate Litvin.

Each family member shares their own perspective and reflections of growing up as the child of a wealthy inn keeper. As time passes, their quality of life is taken from them and replaced with the horrors of concentration camps and slavery in the German factories. The narratives provide a clear picture of the slow decline of this Jewish family’s culture, livelihood, and traditions, at the hands of anti-Semitic Romanians and Hungary’s pro-Nazi population.

One of the narratives recalls the death of Hershmila Festinger, an older brother who drowned at the age of 13. The boy and a friend were in a small boat on the river when it began to take on water. Their brother yelled at a group of Romanians on the shore to help, and that his father would pay them. Rather than save a Jew, the Romanians did nothing. Hershmila and his friend drowned in their sinking boat.

The notes, photographs, and documents included in the book allow the reader to become intimately involved in the story. We see the faces of Jonas and Regina Festinger who were murdered within one day of their arrival at Auschwitz along with scores of others, mostly women and young children, including their young cousin Greta, whose smiling face is immortalized and posed wearing her ballerina costume.

Edith and Nate Litvin met during the months after the liberation and ultimately fell in Love. Edith and the other surviving members of the Festinger family overcame the most incredible odds, and in the process found hope for a new life in America.

Naomi Litvin has given us an intimate family portrait that will become a part of the history of the Holocaust, and is a testament to the strength and will power of those that survived Hitler’s dream of Jewish annihilation.

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