Bernice Eisenstein“I was a child of Holocaust Survivors” by dennis smith
Personal Life• Bernice Eisenstein was born in 1949, Toronto Ontario.• Bernice lives in Toronto with her husband and two children.• Her parent’s were peddlers who spoke Yiddish, they moved to Toronto shortly before Bernice was born.• The photo to the right shows Bernice with her husband.
career• Bernice is a artist whose illustrations have appeared in a number of magazines and periodicals.• She has worked as a freelance editor• She occasionally writes book reviews for the Globe and Mail.
Works • “I was a child of Holocaust Survivors” is perhaps Bernice Eisenstein’s only widely known, published piece of work. It was published September 2007 by Ellen Seligman of McClelland and Stewart.
Related Works• Ann Marie Fleming produced an animated ﬁlm based on Bernice Eisenstein’s memoir “I was a child of Holocaust survivors.” This ﬁlm blends together Bernice’s drawings, animation and her voice.• The ﬁlm includes both an animated storyline, and an interview with Ann Fleming.
Reviews• “Canadian Jewish News” reviews: “A uniquely gripping articulation of the heart. . . . An emotional and aesthetic triumph.”• “Quill and Quire” reviews: “ Beautifully conceived and constructed, intimate and engrossing.”• Molly Peacock from the “Globe and Mail” said: “The most lucid, funny, moving book I encountered in the year 2006. . . remarkable. . .• “Publishers Weekly” reviewed: “Eisenstein is a gifted artist as well as a wordsmith.”• The “Toronto Star” reviewed the book as: “moving, funny, utterly compelling.”
Reviews #2• “AOL books” reviewed: “Through her vivid prose and stunning illustrations, Eisenstein crafts a tale that is emotionally rich and visually arresting....this moving, searingly honest testament speaks to the universality of memory and loss. Anyone who reads this book will be deeply haunted by its beautiful, highly evocative writing and its brilliantly original and haunting artwork.”• The “Globe and Mail” also said: “[Her ﬁgures] have a distinctive look and the cartoonish style allows her people to look simultaneously funny, poignant and noble....With her words and pictures working together, Eisenstein captures the insular world her parents shared with their group of other Holocaust survivors....Some of her descriptions will haunt me”
Awards and accomplishments• "I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors" was shortlisted for the Giller Prize• Also, her book was nominated for the 20th annual trillium book award.• She was a ﬁnalist for the 2006 Borders Original Voices for Non-Fiction.• She was the winner of the Jack Chisvin Family Award in Holocaust Memoir/ Literature.
What makes this a memoir?• “I was a child of Holocaust survivors” is book of non-ﬁction called a memoir. It is a personal story told from ones life touching on intimate feelings, memories, and emotions. A memoir is how one remembers one’s life.• Unlike an Autobiography a memoir describes scenes in one’s life, not every fact, only particularly meaningful happenings. A memoir explores certain aspects in depth and connects with the reader in the sense that the memoir “really happened.”• A memoir gives the author a chance to look back on their past. They describe moments in their life to the reader, and then use their present voice to reﬂect on their past situations. While reﬂecting on such things the author could include thoughts about decisions they’ve made, things they’d change/do differently or any inside information they wish to share.
Historical Context• This memoir covers the early years of Bernice’s childhood. She tells her story mainly beginning when she was eleven years old, this would be the year 1950.• In the 1950’s tons of historical events occurred, many that shape life today. In 1950 (June 25) the cold war began. The war was a result of the division of Korea and on June 25 North Korean forces invaded South Korea. It was the ﬁrst signiﬁcant conﬂict of the Cold war. “According to the data from the US Department of Defence, the United States had suffered 33,686 battle deaths, along with 2,830 non-battle deaths during the Korean War and 8,176 missing in action”• In 1953 (July 27) an armistice was signed agreeing that both parties would stop ﬁghting. Because this war was based more on control and ﬁnancial resources it is hard to determine who actually won the Cold war. Some say the United States and some say The Soviet Union.
Historical Content• In 1950 the ﬁrst modern credit card was introduced.• In 1951 the ﬁrst colour T.V. was introduced.• In 1952 car seat belts were introduced.• In 1953 DNA was discovered.• In 1954 the ﬁrst Atomic Submarine was launched. Also a report states that cigarettes cause cancer.• In 1955 Disneyland opens and the Mcdonald’s corporation was founded.• In 1956 Velcro was introduced.• In 1957 Dr.Suess’s “Cat In the Hat” was published• In 1958 NASA was founded.
Summary• Bernice begins her memoir by telling us what she learned over the years about her father.• She then shifts to tell us about her mother and her life.• One major relation between her mother, father and the holocaust can be told by the story of a golden band ring. When Bernice’s mother worked at a storehouse in Canada (a place where they conﬁscated possessions of the jews) she was feeling very cold one day. She worked up the nerve to ask a guard if she could take a coat from a heap of so many, the guard said yes. As her mother slipped her hands into the coat pockets she felt something sewn into the lining, she managed to slip out the pocket a golden ring. She hid this ring in her shoe and was able to keep it with her until the end of the war. That was the ring she would give to her husband when they married shortly after liberation. It was all she gave to him and he wore it forever. Now as Bernice tells us in the memoir, her mother passes the ring along to her. “It belongs to my image of him (her father) as he lay dying.”
Sumarry• Bernice leaves her house in Toronto Ontario shortly after her father dies.• She was forced to move to Braemore Gardens which is a hospital. This room ﬁt seven people being Bernice, her sister, brother, her mother and 3 cousins.• A few years later Bernice her mother and brother decided to join an organized trip back tot he holy land of Auschwitz.• After a few years Bernice could not take living in Auschwitz any longer. So she moved to the Suburbs with her grandparents, her aunt and uncle and their to sons. She tells us that her grandparents house was silent most of the time. Her grandfather barely spoke and her grandmother had Alzheimers disease, she was kind of loopy.
Summary• Towards the end of the 1960’s Bernice’s grandparents moved to an apartment in the sunny state of Florida. Bernice actually lived in her grandparents house alone for a year or so, and then moved out.• Bernice then moved to Jerusalem for a short time• So then Bernice moved back to Toronto on her own. She started to attend university which is where she met a man, who turned out to become her husband.• Her and her husband then had a baby boy. They have been living in Toronto ever since, as a family.
Purpose of memoir• Bernice’s memoir ﬁrst came about when she began to do portraits of her father. She sais “I found that while involved in capturing his likeness, his physical semblage, the process kept me close to my father, as I remembered him, and how I had missed him since he had died.” The writing came later when Bernice decided to expand upon what she understood visually.• As the memoir came together Bernice began to realize much about her father, she began to make connections to him that she had never thought of before. Bernice shares insight to her book saying this, “It was comforting, and at the same combined with a mix of emotions that not only hovered but took me further into trying to put my father together.”
Voice and Tone• While reading this memoir I noticed that Bernice’s voice can be very dark at times. The metaphor’s she uses are very grim at points but, they seem to ﬁt the context of her life very accurately. Bernice relates the drug “heroin” to herself, the Holocaust, and even to literature and ﬁlm. “Reels of ﬁlm, along with printed pages from books, could all be chopped up into a ﬁne powder, laid down, row upon row, and snorted.” That is the type of grim language I’m talking about. Here is metaphorical quote from her memoir as well, “The Holocaust is a drug and I have entered an opium den.”• Bernice’s tone is often depressing, even at times when she is looking on the bright side of her misfortunes, you can sense an underlying tension. Like in this quote “There were minutes, days months, when my addiction subsided, crawled back into my skin, and I had no need to see The Man for another dose. But the craving is there, it is always there. I’m tied to it.”
Truth or Fiction• Bernice’s memoir is very truthful. When she talks about her father you get the idea that he was a stern man, and his opinions and views on life were not to be taken lightly, especially when raising Bernice. Her father would not hold back about the truths in life whether they are good or bad. Bernice sais “I never doubted the ﬁerce love my father had for me, but their were times when I longed for a simpler, less heroic expression of it.” She wished that he would kind of “loosen up”, She longed for a conversation to have with him beyond declarations. In saying that Bernice sais “Perhaps then he might have trusted that I could ﬁnd my own way in what he knew to be a difﬁcult world.”
Theme• This Memoir contains a theme involving memory, loss and a women’s will to recover the past.• I think that this quote ﬁts the theme of the memoir very well, “I am lost in memory. It is not a place that has been mapped, ﬁxed by coordinates of longitude and latitude, whereby I can retrace a step and come to the same place again. Each time is different...”• I also like the quote “There is no centre to be found in memory, but each place holds its heartbeat.”
Deﬁning the Author• I would deﬁne Bernice Eisenstein as a compassionate character. Her love for both her parents and literature is so strong, its amazing. It seems like she had never taken her parents love for granted, when her parents and her did not see eye to eye she wouldn’t just get angry or stubborn. It seems as if she would put herself in her parents shoes and try to ﬁgure out what they were thinking, doing that shows a great amount of respect to me.• The quote “The sense of companionship that I ﬁrst felt when I held a book in my hands, before even opining it, has never left me” shows Bernice’s compassion for literature. She said “I read voraciously, anything and everything, and shortly after one book was closed I’d pick up another.” She can’t get enough.• I thought this memoir was okay. I am interested in the holocaust so I thought this book would be great, informative and juicy. It turns out this book did not have much information on the holocaust so that was kind of a let down. Also Bernice did not talk much about herself, she talked more about her mother and father, and gave detailed information about them more than herself. I was looking forward to receiving more detail about Bernice because I wanted to read about a young person and they’re struggles throughout this time period. But overall I enjoyed this book, I also loved the illustrations, Bernice is a very talented Illustrator. “When I was young my mother an I used to walk together and she’d hold my hand.” “She always looked straight ahead while I stared at the ground.” I used those quotes to show that Bernice gives more information about her family than herself.
references• Ulike 2010 referenced from- http://www.ulike.net/Bernice_Eisenstein• The Cooke Agency (Fri, April 30th 2010) referenced from- http://www.cookeagency.ca/books/Eisenstein-B_I- Was-a-Child-of-Holocaust-Survivors.htm#rightssold• http://www.mcclelland.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780771030642&view=print• National ﬁlm board of canada (2009-09-28) http://www.nfb.ca/playlist/i-was-child-holocaust-survivors/• Part 1 of Ann Fleming’s Film (animation) http://www.nfb.ca/playlists/i-was-child-holocaust-survivors/viewing/ i_was_child_holocaust_survivor_clip_1/• About the Film with Ann Fleming (Interview) http://www.nfb.ca/playlists/i-was-child-holocaust-survivors/ viewing/i_was_a_child_of_holocaust_survivors_about/• http://history1900s.about.com/od/timelines/tp/1950timeline.htm• http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_War• http://www.panmacmillan.com/displayPage.asp?PageID=4247• http://graphicdetailstheshow.wordpress.com/about-the-artists/
Artwork References• These four links are very long, to long in fact to ﬁt in my previous reference section. So I have made a reference page devoted to Bernice’s artwork alone.• http://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://www.kofﬂerarts.org/site_images/GraphicDetails_BerniceEisenstein_page74_web.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.kofﬂerarts.org/Whats-On/Event-Detail/%3Frecordid %3D146&usg=__0x0JR3sAR9iOts1x5uOdgN_bTbU=&h=594&w=457&sz=71&hl=en&start=0&sig2=GGMnKIKnLC7AnGLG0JceHg&zoom=1&tbnid=v3fy1iR5Hal1cM:&tbnh=146&tbnw=113&ei=khWVTc3PEovt4gb6q amZDA&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dbernice%2Beisenstein%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dsafari%26sa%3DN%26rls%3Den%26biw%3D1223%26bih%3D608%26tbs%3Disch: 1&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=242&vpy=53&dur=126&hovh=256&hovw=197&tx=99&ty=138&oei=aBWVTcOCCdCXtweIxeH_Cw&page=1&ndsp=18&ved=1t:429,r:1,s:0• http://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://cujah.com/static/photologue/photologue/display/ﬁg_3_eisenstein.jpg&imgrefurl=http://cujah.com/publications/volume-vi/visualizing-memory-graphic-novel/ &usg=__XHGNJzPsPjZ2O54ifST6rWglblg=&h=307&w=214&sz=9&hl=en&start=0&sig2=Fddn5wcdCUszZu8qPcnyCA&zoom=1&tbnid=aWQozvsS7yBUmM:&tbnh=155&tbnw=108&ei=khWVTc3PEovt4gb6qamZDA&pr ev=/images%3Fq%3Dbernice%2Beisenstein%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dsafari%26sa%3DN%26rls%3Den%26biw%3D1223%26bih%3D608%26tbs%3Disch: 1&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=141&vpy=220&dur=621&hovh=245&hovw=171&tx=91&ty=123&oei=aBWVTcOCCdCXtweIxeH_Cw&page=1&ndsp=18&ved=1t:429,r:6,s:0• http://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://graphicdetailstheshow.ﬁles.wordpress.com/2010/02/childholocaust.jpg&imgrefurl=http://graphicdetailstheshow.wordpress.com/about-the-artists/ &usg=__QJAaWGuZXqhtjNUn2iWbfWe1xio=&h=204&w=170&sz=11&hl=en&start=0&sig2=ZALPzXqSW7_JsM9lI0ydJw&zoom=1&tbnid=49pvdPTAMRFIfM:&tbnh=155&tbnw=129&ei=khWVTc3PEovt4gb6qamZDA& prev=/images%3Fq%3Dbernice%2Beisenstein%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dsafari%26sa%3DN%26rls%3Den%26biw%3D1223%26bih%3D608%26tbs%3Disch: 1&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=254&vpy=261&dur=162&hovh=163&hovw=136&tx=81&ty=82&oei=aBWVTcOCCdCXtweIxeH_Cw&page=1&ndsp=18&ved=1t:429,r:7,s:0• http://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://media1.nfb.ca/medias/nfb_tube/thumbs_small/2010/I-was-a-child_trailer-small.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.nfb.ca/playlist/i-was-child-holocaust-survivors/ &usg=__7l5ZBKGqx8KCz64rz726w0DOe5k=&h=115&w=204&sz=5&hl=en&start=19&sig2=J0LS25Kbd3g4ZmQPr5v6_g&zoom=1&tbnid=7COMD7mAcOSoSM:&tbnh=92&tbnw=163&ei=RxiVTcXDEYyz4gbrpu3nDA &prev=/images%3Fq%3Dbernice%2Beisenstein%2Bartwork%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den%26biw%3D1223%26bih%3D608%26tbs%3Disch: 10%2C384&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=731&vpy=278&dur=191&hovh=92&hovw=163&tx=18&ty=9&oei=PhiVTc-eHMWftgf9q_2KDA&page=2&ndsp=21&ved=1t:429,r:4,s:19&biw=1223&bih=608