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In Her Father's Eyes

In Her Father's Eyes: A Childhood Extinguished by the Holocaust

Béla Weichherz
Translated, edited, and introduced by Daniel H. Magilow
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 190
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  • Book Info
    In Her Father's Eyes
    Book Description:

    Translated from the German for the first time, In Her Father's Eyes is the diary of Béla Weichherz, in which he documents the life of his only daughter, Kitty, in prewar Czechoslovakia. Started as a baby book before her birth in 1929, the journal contains frequent entries about the ups and downs of Kitty's childhood, often written in vivid detail. Weichherz included photographs, developmental charts, and Kitty's own drawings to enhance the text. The journal entries stop in early spring 1942, just days before the family's deportation to a Nazi death camp. In its final pages, a recognizable tale of one anonymous life becomes a heartbreaking story about how anti-Semitism and nationalism in Slovakia shattered this normalcy.

    In Her Father's Eyesis a moving tale about Jewish life and a father's profound love for his only child. By bridging prewar and wartime periods, the diary also provides a rich context for understanding the history from which the Holocaust emerged.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4556-1
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. An Introduction to In Her Father’s Eyes
    (pp. 3-22)

    To understand why it is valuable to read about the life so painstakingly recorded inIn Her Father’s Eyes, it is useful to begin not in the realm of factual history but in the world of fantastic fiction. In his 1983 short story “The Encyclopedia of the Dead,” the late Yugoslav writer Danilo Kiš, whose father died in the Holocaust, imagines a massive encyclopedia, thousands of volumes long and housed in the dusty stacks of a Swedish library, that contains articles about people who have lived and died. The story’s narrator searches the encyclopedia and finds the entry about her...

  5. Note on the Photographs
    (pp. 23-24)
  6. NOTEBOOK 1 March 1929—May 1933
    (pp. 25-96)

    The first symptoms of pregnancy showed up at the beginning of March 1929. The mother had severe bouts of nausea, couldn’t eat anything, and threw up everything she usually enjoyed.¹ This state lasted for about eight weeks. Then her normal appetite returned and she regained her strength. After that everything went most advantageously and, aside from a few passing episodes when she was unwell, she experienced none of the other symptoms that usually make mothers-to-be suffer.

    One incident in the seventh month of the pregnancy caused us great concern. After receiving some distressing news, Mother had a case of nerves....

  7. NOTEBOOK 2 June 1933—June 1942
    (pp. 97-162)

    Recently she was misbehaving and was supposed to apologize to me. Mama said, “Kitty, don’t be naughty, apologize to Papa” to which she replied, “In a word, I won’t say anything!” Mama then said “Look, Kitty, go to Papa and then the whole matter will be settled.” So she came over and said, “Papa, don’t be angry, and then the whole matter will be settled.”

    Today for her snack she got raw carrots and rutabaga. She came over to me and said: “Papa, have a taste, the carrots arefirst class.” Unfortunately I can’t reproduce her intonation here; it’s an...

  8. Afterword
    (pp. 163-166)

    Béla Weichherz’s notebooks end here. There are no known additional texts in his pen. In his final entries, he alludes to the darkest chapter of the history of Jews in Slovakia, even as circumstances gave him no opportunity to document explicitly what happened to his family after the spring of 1942. The diary contains nothing about the Weichherzes’ arrest, their internment, the transport on which they were deported, or otherwise how they died. Nevertheless, archival materials from Slovakia, Israel, and the United States, cross-referenced with information from the diary and existing scholarship, allow us to reconstruct some of the details...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 167-174)
  10. Index
    (pp. 175-180)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 181-184)