This first-person account, by the youngest of eight children of a pious Jewish family from Sosnoviec in Poland, is remarkable for the faith shown by a teenager faced with the horrifying realities of the Holocaust. Edward Gastfriend, known as Lolek as a boy, remembers in heart-wrenching detail the seven years he survived in German-occupied Poland.
The accelerating Nazi assault on the Jews abruptly shattered Lolek's life. Jews were randomly beaten and arrested, forced out of their homes, deported to slave labor camps, and shot on the streets. During this time, Lolek lost his family, friends, and neighbors, the whole while struggling to hold onto a promise he made to his father before his father was deported. Lolek pledged never to denounce God and to maintain his faith. This covenant proved to be the key to his remarkable survival in several slave labor camps including Auschwitz and several satellite camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
My Father's Testament is an intimate portrayal of a teenage boy trying to stay alive without losing his humanity - in hiding, in the camps, and during the death marches at the end of the war.
Embedded in this unique memoir are two other stories of fathers and sons. One lies in the moving Foreword by David R. Gastfriend, Ed's son, now a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School. The other lies in Bjorn Krondorfer's Afterword. Years after he met Edward Gastfriend, Krondorfer was startled to hear his father mention Blechhammer as one of the places where he was stationed as a young German soldier. Blechhammer was where Lolek was held in a slave labor camp. The coincidence led this German father and son to travel back to the site to confront the Holocaust.
My Father's Testament will engage readers interested in history, the Holocaust, and religion.