Karen Baum Gordon joins us to discuss her book, The Last Letter: A Father’s Struggle, a Daughter’s Quest, and the Long Shadow of the Holocaust, a story that focuses on the life of her father, Rudolf (Rudy) Baum, a Holocaust survivor whose thwarted efforts to save his parents had multigenerational effects. A crisis involving her father in 2002 prompted Karen to research her family history. What she uncovered were hidden scars of generational struggles reaching back to the camps and ghettos of the Third Reich.
Accessing archival documents, photos, and letters written mostly by Julie Baum (Rudy’s mother & Karen’s grandmother) between 1936 and 1941, Karen’s deeply personal and moving family memoir spans events from the 1930s and Hitler’s rise to power, through World War II and the Holocaust, to the present-day United States. In recreating the fatal journeys of her grandparents and tracing her father’s efforts to save them an ocean away in America, Karen discovers the forgotten fragments of her family’s history and a vivid sense of her own Jewish identity. She will share her story of family discovery and what led her to write this book.
The Last Letter was nominated for the American Library Association’s Sophie Brody Medal for outstanding achievement in Jewish literature, was an ABC Good Morning America Pick of the Week, and went into second printing before its first anniversary.