A very engaging and very Jewish tale indeed.
The whole essay is quite lovely and hauntingly loving, but this sentence quite literally jumped off the page for me.
"In 1945, my 5-year-old mother watched her mother collapse in the kitchen at Baulkham Hills. On the telegram, the date of Else and Friedrich’s transport from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz. “Please let us know,” requests the Red Cross, “if you wish to continue searching.” Soon after, news trickled in of the relatives who’d survived. Among them, Hete’s children, Kurt, and Elschen who was said to have had a stillborn child of rape during the occupation. Both would commit suicide many years later."
This happened to my mother, in 1945 as well, but she was only 3 years old. And in Toronto.
They found out, in exactly the same way, from the Red Cross that everyone left in my grandmother's shtetl was murdered, that there was no one left of her family. Save one sister who made it to Canada previously, and a few distant cousins, my grandmother's entire family was gone.
I found out through my own research that the entire village of Tirzianne (Yiddish: Trestyna) had been sent to Auschwitz.
Same Jewish story, different city, different family.
We, the Jewish people will never let this happen again.