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Wednesday Weekly

The Crooked Mirror

By Louise Steinman


This was a book I received as an e-galley from edelweiss for free in exchange for a fair and honest review. It was written in 2014 and is short at only 240 pages.

As Steinman learns more about her lost ancestors, though, she finds that the history of Polish-Jewish relations is far more complex. Although German-occupied Poland was the site of horrific Jewish persecution, Poland was for centuries the epicenter of European Jewish life. After the war, Polish-Jewish relations soured. For Poles under Communism, it was taboo to examine or discuss the country’s Jewish past. Among Jews in the Diaspora, there was little acknowledgment of the Poles’ immense suffering during its dual occupation.

 Steinman’s research leads her to her grandparents’ town of Radomsko, whose eighteen thousand Jews were deported or shot during the Nazi occupation. As she delves deeper into the town’s and her family’s history, Steinman discovers a prewar past where a lively community of Jews and Catholics lived shoulder to shoulder, where a Polish Catholic painted the blue ceiling of the Radomsko synagogue, and a Jewish tinsmith roofed the spires of the Catholic church. She also uncovers untold stories of Poles who rescued their Jewish neighbors in Radomsko and helps bring these heroes to the light of day.

I found this book to be a valuable supplement to the holocaust books that are available. It tells of Jewish and non-Jewish descendants of Poland who attempt to trace their relatives. It revisits and reconstructs the past. I was surprised by some of the attitudes and stereotypes that still prevail. It takes us to monuments and museums dedicated to remembering the events of the holocaust. Some searches for family are fruitful and some are not. It is a book of journeys and heart breaks. This is another book everyone should read. It is an important piece of history. I give this one a 4 out of 5.


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