Fragments of a Lost Childhood
In 1944, Rosy Kanarek is imprisoned in Bergen-Belsen, struggling to survive and to protect her young daughter, Zahava, from the horrors around them. Sixty years later, Zahava opens the suitcase her mother left for her. It reveals a remarkable archive – documents, photographs, and letters from the wartime years, all perfectly preserved. The discovery prompts Zahava to revisit the past and finally break her lifelong silence about her family’s incredible journey from the depths of despair to hope…and survival.
In 2009, Zahava published her book, Fragments of a Lost Childhood, based on the remarkable documents she found upon her mother’s death in 2001. The book traces her journey from traumatic childhood experiences in concentration camps in Holland and Germany – and tells of the astonishing twists and turns that enabled her entire immediate family to survive in the bleakest of conditions.
What makes this book particularly poignant is that it was the death of Zahava’s mother that brought it to fruition. The book is based on the documents Zahava found secreted in her mother’s flat as she undertook the painful task of clearing it out. This unique archive of perfectly preserved documents, photographs and letters from the wartime years and from the camps, illustrate in a highly personal way, the bitter reality of day-to-day life in the camps. Zahava knew nothing about the existence of these documents until she opened the suitcase in which they had been kept.
She suddenly realized that her late mother had gone to incredible lengths – and taken extreme risks – to ensure this evidence would be preserved in order that their story should not be forgotten. This discovery moved Zahava, a lady in her mid-seventies, to take a risk of her own and respond to her own daughter’s pleas to finally share her story – not only with her own immediate family but with the wider world and in particular, the younger generation, whilst there was still the opportunity to do so.