Conservative peer Daniel Finkelstein has paid tribute to his parents for their strength of character in refusing to let Adolf Hitler “spoil their life”, and their “determination” to “be more than survivors” after the Holocaust.
Finkelstein discussed his “remarkable” parents on the latest episode of the JC podcast, Let’s Talk, as he reflected on his surprise that their trauma does not appear to have travelled down the generations.
The author and journalist has chronicled the wartime experiences of his German mother, Mirjam, a survivor of Belsen concentration camp, and his father Ludwik, who endured unimaginable hardship after being deported by the Soviets from Poland to Siberia, in a new book, Hitler, Stalin, Mum and Dad: A Family Memoir of Miraculous Survival.
Asked by Let’s Talk host, JC editor Jake Wallis Simons, if his parents had managed to exorcise the generational trauma of the Holocaust in his family, Finkelstein replied: “Yes…it's remarkable”.
He added: “It's a bit of a puzzle for me. I'm not sure I've solved the puzzle completely…They were determined that they were going to be more than survivors.”
Finkelstein said his parents “didn't want Hitler to spoil their life” and “they certainly didn't want it to spoil ours…They would've regarded that as a total defeat.”
It speaks “highly of their characters that they were able to do that,” he added.
During the interview Finkelstein also discussed why some public figures will declare themselves communists but would be unlikely to boast of being fascist.
“One reason is because the Soviets changed sides, having been on the same side as the Nazis,” he said. “They tried the Nazis along with the rest of the allies for things that they were guilty of themselves.”