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Hybrid Talk: Never Tell Anyone You’re Jewish: Maria Chamberlain

October 13, 2022 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Part of the Library’s Excavation-Confrontation-Repair? Family Histories of the Holocaust events series. Join online or in person at the Library by registering to attend below.

Maria Chamberlain’s book, Never Tell Anyone You’re Jewish is a story of two assimilated Jewish families in Nazi-occupied Poland in the eye of the Holocaust. The two families were joined by marriage after the war and Maria was born soon after. Not surprisingly her mother initially urged her to hide her Jewishness. Later, in old age, she relented, recognising that testimonies make history, and that the lives of those who perished deserve to be celebrated. The material in the book is compiled from recounted memories of the survivors, unfinished memoirs, letters, photographs, and historical archives.

The book tells of Maria’s paternal grandfather, whose appointment to the impossibly compromised post of President of the Kraków Judenrat ultimately led to his downfall, of her aunt Lula, who was denounced and shot, of her maternal grandmother, who died in the gas chambers of Belzec, and of Kuba, the gifted pianist, who was told to dig his own grave. There are uplifting stories too: her great uncle’s survival on Schindler’s List, and her charismatic, heel-clicking maternal grandfather’s survival hiding in plain sight in a quasi-Nazi organisation.

Maria documents the kindness of strangers, miraculous escapes, courage, guile, strength, and resilience. Her parents adopted different strategies for survival, and afterwards responded very differently to the traumas they had suffered. The last part of the book covers Maria’s early life in Stalinist Poland and her family’s emigration to Edinburgh, where she and her parents led fulfilled lives as scientists. Despite this, the traumas continue to ripple through her life and following generations.

Event guidelines for those joining online:

1. The Library will send you a Zoom link and joining instructions via email prior to the event. Please check your junk email folders.

2. Please try and join 5 minutes before the event start time and we will let you into the room (do try and bear with us if this takes a few minutes).

3. If you would like to ask a question during the event, please type your question into the chat function, and we will endeavour to answer as many questions as possible during the Q&A. Your webcam will not be seen during this event.

4. The event will be recorded for the Library’s YouTube channel and will be shared at a later date.

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The Wiener Holocaust Library
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