The Memory Keeper

A Journey into the Past to Unearth Family Secrets

Jackie Kohnstamm

The Memory Keeper by Jackie Kohnstamm (Paperback ISBN 9781838858056) book cover

Available as Paperback, Hardback, eBook, Downloadable audio

The compelling story of Jackie Kohnstamm’s search for the truth about her grandparents’ deaths in the Holocaust

Max and Mally, two out of millions murdered in the Holocaust, are deported in 1942 from Berlin to Theresienstadt – where they will starve to death.

Decades later, in London and on a whim, their granddaughter, Jackie googles their names to find two commemorative stones recently placed outside their old home. The discovery compels her to open a long-closed cupboard of haunting family papers, piece together the story of the family she never knew and find her place in it.

With searing prose and meticulous detective work, Jackie Kohnstamm offers a gripping and poignant portrait of an ordinary family and reveals a remarkable story of loss, discovery and memory.

“Memoirs about family experiences of the Holocaust continue to proliferate, but when they are as poignant as The Memory Keeper, they are a necessary reminder of an apparently unfathomable evil that happened not so long ago. Kohnstamm’s account is unashamedly personal … and she proves a warm and witty guide to what turns into an anguished journey into her past”

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“A moving and original real-time history of what it was like for ordinary Germans who happened to be Jewish to carry on as each new repressive law made their lives smaller and scarier until eventually, having failed to get out, they are ordered to the train station … Heartbreaking”

“Jackie Kohnstamm has created a beautifully heartbreaking book about remembering and forgetting, loving and missing, the deep impact of absences in any life and the wonderful, terrible interconnectedness of our selves. She wears her research lightly, deftly and just writes so well. Kohnstamm becomes historian for her family and, in a way, for millions of families shattered and evaporated by hatred, obsession and war. Our journey with her has great darkness, but also great tenderness, wisdom, joy”
A. L. Kennedy

“One of the most moving accounts of Holocaust family research that I have read, insightfully penned by a British Holocaust descendant who does not wish to be defined by the past”
family Tree Magazine

“Following years of tireless research, The Memory Keeper is the powerful and thought-provoking account of Jackie’s journey … a moving narrative”
jewish Telegraph

Jackie Kohnstamm

Jackie Kohnstamm grew up in North London, where she still lives. She studied an ancient Jewish community in France for her PhD, never guessing how the skills acquired then would later help her delve into her own family story. She has lectured in higher education and written short stories and plays for BBC radio and the stage. Jackie is nourished by lengthy meals with friends and by her garden on the wild side. If she hits a winning shot at tennis, that’s a bonus. The Memory Keeper is her first book.