My Family’s History–Now Out in a New Book
Inge: A Girl’s Journey Through Nazi Europe
by Inge Joseph Bleier and David E. Gumpert
(Wm. B. Eeerdmans Publishing)
Inge is an Independent Publisher Award Finalist, a Hadassah Book Club 2005 selection and a NY Public Library selection.
Over the past decade, when I haven’t been writing books and columns about small business and entrepreneurship, I’ve been researching my family’s history during the Holocaust. I was prompted by the discovery in 1993 of a 66-page recollection my aunt had written about her experiences trying to escape the Nazis.
PHOTO: The only known group photo of Inge and other children refugees–taken in Seyre, near Toulouse in Southern France, probably summer 1940. (Inge is in the middle of the second from top row, slightly to left of woman standing.)
The actual story of her coming of age, falling in love, and standing up to the Nazis turned into a 300-plus page memoir, Inge: A Girl’s Journey Through Nazi Europe, that came out in April 2004 (published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing).
Inge is really two stories in one.
First, it is the story of a teenage Jewish girl and her struggle–external and internal–to survive the Holocaust.
Second, it is the story of “the other Kindertransport” and the unusual community of children and adults it spawned. The Kindertransport of 10,000 Jewish children from Germany and Austria to England is now well known, but the smaller one of a few hundred to Belgium has never before been described…until now. The children who were sent to Belgium had an entirely different experience because their sanctuary was invaded by the Nazis, forcing the children into a chaotic journey to France to attempt escape.
Inge, the book, grew out of a sparse 66-page manuscript composed by Inge Joseph Bleier in the late 1950s about her experiences as a teenager in Europe attempting to avoid capture by the Nazis. Inge sent the manuscript to a few book publishers, who rejected it, and she filed it away with old papers in the basement of her townhouse on Chicago’s North Side, where it sat for more than thirty years. It was discovered by her daughter, Julie, in 1993, ten years after Inge’s death. Julie shared the manuscript with her cousin, Inge’s nephew, David Gumpert, who determined to complete the manuscript. He researched Inge’s story for more than ten years, interviewing individuals who were with her, reviewing letters she wrote as a teen to relatives, and studying journals and other documents. David then filled out Inge’s original manuscript into the full memoir that is now “Inge”.
A recent newspaper article described the background of Inge and why I was driven to complete the long project.
Comments about Inge: A Girl’s Journey Through Nazi Europe
“Poignant and powerful…a moving work. One senses the anticipation of danger, the anguish of the unknown, and the precariousness of life on the run, along with the excitement of a girl growing into a woman, the discovery of first love, and of one’s ability to confront an all-powerful enemy…I recommend the work highly.”
Director, Sigi Ziering Institute and Adjunct Professor of Theology, The University of Judaism
Former Director, The Research Institute at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
“Unlike Anne Frank, Inge Joseph was separated from her family as a young teen and spent the war years living with children’s groups in Belgium and France a few steps ahead of the Germans. David Gumpert has transformed his aunt’s manuscript about her ordeal into an absorbing, unsentimental narrative that combines relief of survival with the melancholy of memory.”
LAWRENCE L. LANGER
author of Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory
“This is a moving portrait of a young Jewish girl’s amazing journey of survival through Nazi Europe, and it is a page-turner to boot. Equally important, it is a significant addition to the literature about the impact of the Holocaust on survivor families…”
Co-founder and President, One Thousand Children, Inc.®
Co-editor, Don’t Wave Goodbye (Praeger Greenwood, 2004)