My Father’s Daughter

When I was young, my father and I believed in Zion.

Israel was

strawberry smoothies


Independence parades (his hands stained with berry juice and seeds).

My father was born in Germany. He was raised in Israel.

Do not make the mistake of calling him German.

I have a picture of my family in Israel about five years after Auschwitz. My grandparents’ eyes are vacant. They hold two squirming children. Light reflects off their bodies and captures their hair, their lips, the lines on their faces.

It is said there are two kinds of survivors. There are the ones who talk and talk and talk about what happened. They strive to explain, to squeeze the pain out through words, so that their memories hang dripping over their children’s heads.

And there are the other kind. My family. The ones who never speak.

As a result, I am the one who never stops telling their stories. And memories that do not belong to me are wrung out with dripping words that hang on those who dare to love me.

And this is the story I’ve been telling for over a decade to anyone who would listen. I’ve become obsessive. Who is willing to listen? The pain transferred. It never went away. It manifested itself over generations and has seeped into my life. I find pockets of it everywhere.


4 thoughts on “My Father’s Daughter

  1. […] fiction about my family’s story. I write poetry dealing with memories, Brooklyn, the holocaust (which can be found on this site under the “Poetry” tab) but writing the story has […]

  2. Nicole (Hansen) says:

    I liked this Janine. it’s so funny, because my family is the other of the two. And it’s so funny how that same pain transcends into me. But since people talked about it so much etc, I resent it- I resent that I’m the writer and therefore responsible for documenting it, I resent that I was raised and now have these crazy ticks.

    My goal is to find a balance with this- writing the story about it in my heart, not theirs; and raising a family where this trauma ends.

  3. Alan Shapiro says:

    My father is the one that would not talk about the horrors in Russia circa 1920.
    I should have asked more questions. Persauded him to tell the history of his life.

    • janinejulia says:

      Thanks for sharing Uncle Alan. There are so many questions to which we were never able to find the answers.

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