Author: Helen Waldstein Wilkes
ISBN: 978-1-897425-53-4
Publisher: Athabasca University Press

Click Here To Purchase Letters from the Lost: A Memoir of Discovery (Our Lives: Diary, Memoir, and Letters)

With vague memories of early childhood, author Helen Waldstein Wilkes felt an immense emotional desire to further investigate her heritage. This started when she opened a box filled with letters that her father had left behind. Letters from the lost, her Jewish ancestors, of whom many never survived their unforgettable journey to freedom.

Many have only read about, or watched on television, the collective history of an era deeply embedded into our minds as the Holocaust. But never have you experienced it so closely, as I did while reading this unforgettable memoir.

Escaping Prague as the Nazi’s moved in swiftly, Helen and her parents were able to enter Canada, where they began a new life. Life was different there. Their only connection to family came from the many letters her father had stored in a cardboard box. With a red lid.

Once Helen opened the box, everything changed. Now retired, she began a journey, traveling all over the world, to find family members and to learn more about her family history – the “roots” she’d been missing her entire life.

In an unforgettable read, the author has cleverly included the context of the letters, pictures she was able to locate, and her own heartfelt story behind the discoveries. It was an emotional journey for me as well, as I learned more about this family and their struggle to survive in a most overwhelming time.

I’ve always enjoyed reading memoirs, but by far this one has been the most memorable. An unforgettable story, filled with history, love, emotions and facts, Letters From The Lost is a read you won’t want to miss. Read the letters in the box and prepare for a historical lesson you won’t read about in the history books. You will experience suffering, joy, love and fear. You won’t close the book as the same person who opened it to read.

About the Book

On March 15, 1939, Helen Waldstein’s father snatched his stamped exit visa from a distracted clerk to escape from Prague with his wife and child. As the Nazis closed in on a war-torn Czechoslovakia, only letters from their extended family could reach Canada through the barriers of conflict. The Waldstein family received these letters as they made their lives on a southern Ontario farm, where they learned to be Canadian and forget their Jewish roots.

Helen Waldstein read these letters as an adult―this changed everything. As her past refused to keep silent, Helen followed the trail of the letters back to Europe, where she discovered living witnesses who could attest to the letters’ contents. She has here interwoven their stories and her own into a compelling narrative of suffering, survivor guilt, and overcoming intergenerational obstacles when exploring a traumatic past.  

About the Author

Since receiving her PhD in French Literature, Helen Waldstein Wilkes spent 30 years teaching at every level in Canada and in the U.S. Her research interests include cross-cultural understanding, language acquisition, and neurolinguistics. Now retired and living in Vancouver, she is actively examining her own cultural inheritance and its impact.

Click Here To Purchase Letters from the Lost: A Memoir of Discovery (Our Lives: Diary, Memoir, and Letters)