tv Irene Butter Shores Beyond Shores CSPAN October 6, 2019 12:20am-1:41am EDT
won't get your money back. you have to go to court and you have to put some muscle into and enforcing the the contract and constitution is the same way. to watch the rest of this program, visit our website booktv.org, and search the authors name. kimwayly using box at the top of the page. good evening. good evening if i can ask our last of our guest to take their seats. i want to welcome everyone director of programs engagement at the music of heritage a living memorial to the holocaust a little bit about this institution before we go into the program, this is the third it large pest holocaust museum in the world. offering range of rigorous engaging exhibitions program and resources. in a world of rising intolerance
anti-semitism and holocaust denial we're called upon tore bold in mission of education and outreach, than pfer before through events like this one 237 tonight efnght is indeed a special one. this is the launch of a new edition of shore yongd shore a powerful memoir by dr. butter, a survivor of two concentration camps who is dedicated her life to holocaust education, and peace activism. she's the cofounder of the melts and lecture series at june university of michigan where professor of public health. she's one of the founders of arab jew picture women dialogue group in ann arbor we're also so pleased to have with us her coauthor john and chris holloway. we're honored to have dr. butter in conversation with andrew solomon renown author of far from the tree. parent, children, and the search for identity as well as noon day
deemen in suppression which won the 2001 national book award for nonfiction. he's professor of clinical medical scrnlg at the a columbia medical center and former president ofman america center web an i want to share with you briefly his reaction to shores yongd shores. after reading this memoir he was inspired to write that quote, i butter book is triumph of clarity and con decision written with a passionate intent to inform and with not a shred of self-pity by profound and intimate and bears witness to family who drew strength from one another even through the darkness of the holocaust. it is a shockingly honest and hopeful book. left quite a response and with that is is our starting point looking forward to this conversation. we will have an audience q and a afterward web and following that, bookses from both are distinguish guests will be on sale in the museum shop and
authors will be available for a signing in main lobby. i would like to welcome our c-span viewers watching us on booktv we're going to now watch a brief video about not long ago not far away, this is the exhibition currently on view at our museum. and after that a program will begin thank thank you so much.
[applause] [silence] let me begin by thanking museum of jew picture heritage for hosting this ping important conversation. thanks to the books coauthors thanks to mary beak who helped organize this event and many thanks. thank you first of all to dr. irene you heard enthusiasm of my response to the book that was read aloud before so i don't again but i will say it is extraordinary book extraordinary in part simply because it tells
story of the holocaust over and again every time you read it that may come as a shock. but also extraordinary because it is a transforms that is describes irene went from her original experiences as a small child in germany through the many painful experiences of the war and then on to a life afterwards. it is very encompassing and humane. i think it is a very, very important book so i'm honored to be here with you. >> thank you very much. >> why don't we begin with a quick description of soft what happened and where you were and where you went. >> so my book is a memoir that covers the first 15 years of my life. i was born in berlin. and at age seven, my family left to immigrate to netherlands
because of hitler and prosecution of the jews my father and father was a partner and when bank was taken away by the nazis because jews were not allowed to own a bank anymore. my father was unemployed and that led him to netherlands. hoping that we would be safe there, we were in holland two years before the invasion by the nazis, and, of course, instantly who'll land became an occupied country. things happened very gradually . rights were taken away from the jews one by one. and, of course, the worst was the it deportation eventually so we were deported to first which was concentration camp also called a transit catch and after eight months we were sent to
bellson, and after bergen belle son we have incredible fortune of being included in a prisoner exchange between germany and america. america was sending german citizens who had lived in america but couldn't go back to germany when the war began, and held jews with american passports for this prisoner exchange and we were included in one of the few transports out of bergen bellson in after having been there, almost a year, and barely surviving then sadly my father died on the train, the second night on the train, and when we arrived in switzerland my mother and my brother were so ill they had to be hospitalized immediately. the swiss did not allow me to stay there. so i was sent to a displaced
persons camp a refugee camp in algiers north average africa took one year before i was able to come to america. we had family who provided affidavit eventually and took six more months for my mother and brother to come to america. so altogether, i was separated for 18 months from my mother and brother, four days after i had lost my father. so that's the outline of the story. sometimes people ask me why did you wait so long to write this book is? and some of it has to do with just being very busy raising a family, elderly parents, a career -- and so after retirement i began to consider this, and i must say
i'm really glad that i waited so long because i think the book is far more relevant today than it would have been ten or 20 years ago had i had the time to write it. >> talk a little bit about your parents and your female and the experience that you have in being with them. i think it was unusual for a whole family to remain intact through two different camps. and for that length of time. do you think you would have been able to make it without having been altogether in that way? ...
my brother help to give us resilience and support and the strength to try to survive. >> extraordinary thing about the book i will not make that inevitable comparison but the early chapters not in the voice of a child but as it goes on you can see that narrative through the character growing older. do you think that's true to your experience quick. >> it is quite intentional to do that because many books
written by holocaust survivors usually they were children when they experience this but not from the point of view of the child but what did they see and what does the child think with the background in that conceptual information what does a child make out of living under those circumstances? so we try very hard to cooperate with the child. >> when i said we spoke on the phone some time ago it was extraordinary to imagine what it was like for parents to go
to the luxury from the darkness and you said it had nothing to do with that it was just the way there was not luxury before. >> the nazis certainly did not care who you were or young or old male or female in treating everybody the same. and those who have a lower standard of living just because they had less before the camps. but that's just my perspective.
>> but this is half way through. >> we kept trying to make sense of everything to make things better as if there was to be any understanding and certainly no promise and with the notion that good people were capable of surviving. tell me about that idea trying to make sense out of the experience and how you did that. >> i don't think i ever made sense out of it. i think what helped me a great deal and people who survived, of course some of it is luck but you have to have a purpose and a goal and a strong will to survive under those circumstances. i did and one of my dreams at
that time as a young girl i had read books about heidi. there were some similarities. she lost her parents, lived with her grandfather in switzerland and was skiing so my dream was i would survive and go to switzerland and live in the mountains and learn how to ski and that helped me. >> did you learn how to ski ever quick. >> never. >> there still time. [laughter] so talk about the idea of the self image of the victim before you did public speaking and when they started to write the book it when you went
through the. there was a sense you were going from a victim to be something very different. >> certainly i was a victim during those horrible years and those experiences but just because i was the victim the then, didn't mean i was a victim for the rest of my life and as i thought about that i began to realize it's much and then to think of myself as a survivor because as a victim i was powerless and people could manipulate anything in my environment and could make
choices and help other people and do good things to move forward. that was my life so that shaped that self-image. >> the one thing that strikes me different is significant emotional attachment do you describe the the friendships and in particular to be with the other girls your age taking care of the children and the little tiny children
and under these incredible adverse circumstances to give them comfort and everybody is out for themselves but people within the camp who were willing to pause long enough to recognize one another's humanity. >> of course the children had to bring out the humanity. they were so hungry and listless and passive. so it became very important and maybe introduce some humor or song or even get them to
smile even if it was just for a second. we didn't have clothing or toys we could just give them love that was important. and there was the role reversal they could no longer take care of my brother and me so it was our duty because we had more strength and resilience there was another reason for me to fight for survival because i was taking care of my parents so i had to survive for them for that reason and taking care of other people of that ceiling a
feeling of ratification even under these terrible circumstances to have someone take care of someone. >> a sociologist once said we not only take care of our children because we love them but we love them because we take care of them. that's a very powerful comment tell me how that takes place to be such an extraordinary man doing everything you could to faith and family was that a role reversal my mother became very ill and was bedridden for several months in the camp before we left.
i was the only one who could take care of her. my father accepted it as well. but they were so weak and so miserable they thought anybody could make a difference what a fighter got more parenting from them but that was not possible. >> before you are put on the plane to switzerland and you were mistaken for him your mother quick. >> yes one day there was an announcement anybody who had south american passports , which we had and the reason why we were included in the
prisoner exchange. we had to be go to the camp doctor. so my mother were already - - was already bedridden for several months and said that they should dresser and walker there but she collapsed right after we got her dressed and out of bed so we took her back to bed so then we had the names checked off by the doctor and then my father came back from europe and later we only find out he was brutally beaten but he was so weak and miserable and was barely conscious.
so we walked to the station for a screening he said it's impossible i have to lie down and then after a while we begged him to come. because this seemed to be our only chance ever out of belgium. so eventually he agreed and leaning heavily on me because he could barely walk. we come to the station to the doctor and he says to my father he says you are john? are you sick? he said no and then he looked at me and checked off my mother's name and said your children have ready been here so be ready tomorrow.
[laughter] know whether a 14 -year-old girl looked looked like a 45 -year-old woman nobody knows. we were both very skinny and wearing rags. but that did it. >> talk about the pink blanket. >> that's on the back cover of the book and i had received as a young child in berlin and i even took it to the concentration camps. it gave me a great deal of comfort like a comfort blanket. i always had it with me. and i still have it now. maybe you have seen it at the exhibition upstairs.
the blanket has seen a lot and experienced a lot i also think it should be in the museum. >> i hope that it will be. so now another short passage from the book and i will ask you to explain. he likes the hanky express was important to get to know other people in other places if we do that it's a sure way to have more friends than enemies i'm not sure i agree anymore. we seem to have a lot of enemies they looked us in the face. they never bothered to get to know us i don't think they really saw us. tell me about that which is that mean quick. >> it makes you feel like a
non- entity, nothing human , nothing recognized as a person in auschwitz people just had numbers and they were a number that's the only identity that they had numbers tattooed but if they don't look at you, then you feel like a nobody and you are nothing. >> do you think with those passports from ecuador your family would have survived the war quick. >> nobody knows but we left berlin three months before it was liberated and considering the conditions of my parents
, i have doubts they would have lived that long. my brother possibly but he had a very bad inspections why don't know if they would have taken him. the passports were the important element. not everybody with passports survived not everybody was exchanged but in our case, it was a good fortune. >> explain the purpose obviously you had not experience the life so tell about getting them and how they came to play. >> again it's part of the exhibition that shows it comes from lithuania who issued passports to jews and there
were consoles in many european countries if they could rescue them to save their lives. so my father had met a friend in amsterdam who had just received the passport for him and he gave my father the name of a man in stockholm and he said to send in for passport pictures. you don't have to say very much in your letter because he would know why you are sending it. so we were hoping we could receive these passports in the mail but that did not happen. we were deported when the passports had not arrived. two or three months later they arrived in the camp that in itself was a miracle because passports were sent to the home address in amsterdam and
we never got an e-mail forwarded from home and then one day the passports came. so probably it was something to do with the fact the nazis had a policy that means exchange they were eager to have a reserve of jews with passports that they could use to get german citizens who were in foreign countries when the war began that could not come back to germany so they wanted to have their germans back to help win the war. 's when the passports arrived we were no longer at risk of being deported to auschwitz. so we would pray every single week to leave and then we became the exchange jews and
we were a special category and a few months later we were sent and they told us that it is an exchange camp and it's better than where we were which was a total misstatement and we wouldn't be there very long because we would be exchanged but it turned out to be a slow death camp. no gas chambers. but the survival rate was very very low. we were there almost one year before the exchange actually took place i only know of one other group that left and they went to palestine and there were 200 people who were sent to palestine and other than tha that, we were the second
group even though there were several thousand jews with passports. >> i will read one more passag passage, i promise to myself was not to tell anybody what i had seen they had enough to worry about i had to start acting like a big girl i heard other people talk about the dead bodies it turned out to be a man and they didn't seem upset. but when they asked if i was okay she looked at me when you got back and just said she was sorry. i was mad. that is lovely description even at that point when she is
not very well talking about what happened with your relationship and what was going on. >> when you see so much death day after day and week after week, i hate to admit this but it is a normal site to see a dead body. but that was the first time and it affected me very deeply. and i think that somehow that site stayed with me always , that first experience to see a dead body. i have never forgotten. >> describe what it was like when you got to algeria and on the way there is a wonderful description of people finishing lunch with a lot of leftover food hamburgers.
and the cook just through them overboard and your response that's what could have saved your father or hundreds of lives as it was thrown to the fish. >> it was the first time i had seen hamburger in years. so i ate too many. [laughter] i was very uncomfortable so i went on the deck to lie down on the ground because that is all i could do. then the man came out of the kitchen with a huge plate of hamburgers and i heard them splash into the sea and it was such an incredible shock after having starved and longing for food day and night and never be satisfied. and then to see that happen,
happen, even to this day i'm not able to waste food. >> that is very important. i will read something else. i was 12 years old we were taken into custody on or about the evening of may 20th. the officers took off her shoelaces and belts and valuables then transported to a detention center. there were many children the lights were on all the time including all night i was not allowed to bathe while i was there. was taken to a second detention center also here i was not allowed to bathe and it was very cold. i got sick because it was so cold. i had a fever and a headache and a throat ache and aches all over my body.
i told the guards i was sick. i was sick for a total of five days and nobody took me to a separate place for sick kids. the guards were mean and scary and yelled at us. one day they demanded to know who has food will go to prison they yelled. they found one kid who was 15 years old who had bread the officials handcuffed his wrist i was very shocked and scared. it is very sad here. i'm hungry all the time so hungry i woke up in the middle of the night with hunger. sometimes at 4:00 a.m. or other hours times two scared to ask for more food i saw a child once the guard said no you have to ration. and wish i could say that was from this book but testimony from the texas border from may
of this year and tell me how you respond. >> it is devastating. seventy-five years after the holocaust that we should see these practices to separate children from their families and treating them with little older children without clothing or food or medical care, it is incomprehensible especially in our country, amer. >> it demonstrates that we have not learned that history will repeat itself.
and for me it says we have that responsibility to act. you can't just say this is happening in texas. we can't do everything or help everyone but every one of us can do something and it is extremely important for those who were sitting at the camps and some have been clothed but more and more children and i have nightmares about it because it's been so horrible.
and then to find this happening again today. >> so what is it do as an activist? >> where do we begin sign petitions. call our senators and legislators. go and protest. of course not everybody can do this but but they go to these camps they write letters but also produce records to be there for days and weeks for those that come in or go out
or they are kind to the guards maybe that would make the guards kinder and do whatever we can't influence our government. >> where do you of the situation today of germany of the most brutal nation to talk about how the united states is a strong right wing movement now to respond to the holocaust. >> my own experience has been extremely positive.
but my father was buried in the small town and smothered loan --dash southern germany i have them back half a dozen times and have become friends with the people who take care of the cemetery. what is a very unusual town with those who lived in the town before the war. but they come and visit the cemetery they have built two decades ago jewish and christian history with contribution of former jewish residents to the town and community into the arts that
they embrace that jewish culture that existed. >> and then a house that used to be a funeral home with the entrance to the cemetery and then 2 million to rebuild the house that has become an education center. and has become extreme. so it is a very unusual town and they acknowledged what happened and they are trying to play back in any way that they can and to become a model but certainly the government
has taken a strong position to protect jews and to stop anti-semitism. what i found interesting that many young jews now who settled in berlin and quite a number of them come from israel. and those jewish people that go back to germany i think it has done more than any other country through restitution. but still those forces of anti-semitism are all over the
world. >> my own family had various parts of eastern europe and i will tell you that i went back to the town my father's family had come from in romania and i went to see the jewish cemetery and it was the person who had lived over the road. he wasn't jewish but he liked jews and would be happy to let us into cs but the terrible anti-semitism now in romania and i encountered some of it on that trip and other occasions and now in many parts of europe that dual nationalism and rising in great britain it is shocking and jeremy corbin anti-semitic
positions are deeply upsetting to many british jews. so what do you make of the rising tide collects. >> i think it probably has always been there but after the holocaust it was suppressed and it wasn't kosher. but now they have made it kosher again. so it is rising it's ugly face to come to the surface again and it's very shocking and difficult to see what the solution would be. >> it is very shocking to experience certainly. now you alluded to it before
but you arrived everybody said don't think about it or talk about it but then there was an extraordinary story of you giving a presentation with your granddaughter quick. >> my daughter. >> tell us that stories. >> like many other survivors had mentioned, when they first arrived in america after the holocaust, the message consistently was forget now that you are here and start a new life and don't ever speak about it. and if we tried to mention it in the slightest, we were silenced so i sat for decades of silence when it is my mother and my brother and i
really talked about the holocaust and i think it just took a long time for america to be ready to listen to it. i didn't talk to my children very much but once they reach the age they heard about it and asked questions i certainly did then and then my daughter was in middle school and took a course of public speaking and at the end of the course every student had to give a one hour talk to the class in what she chose was anti-semitism hitler's conquest of europe in the concentration camps and she came home and said will you be my visual aid cracks. [laughter]
i was petrified at the idea of talking about my own experiences in front of a classroom. so that bridged the i.c.e. in some ways. but there were other sources as well. i was invited about and franklin there was the foot of graphic exhibition that traveled throughout the country that came to detroit and as i was thinking about this panel, it did and one --dash dawned on me with anne frank they will never tell their stories because their voices were silenced for good so then i had the privilege of survival then it was my duty to tell the stories and then one day i heard the speech
that said if you were in the camp and you smell the air and heard the silence of the dead , then it is your responsibility to provide testimony to tell the stories and to be a witness. that left a very deep impression on me and that's when i started talking in schools about 35 years ago and i'm still doing this. >> what is your brother make of this quick. >> it took him a lot longer. it was harder for him. >> why? >> i think men have a harder time. [laughter] >> i think that might be true. what is it like to have the
book out? do you have a sense of relief or accomplishment quick. >> it is a sense of relief. and primarily i know i cannot go to schools forever so then there will be the book that can be used and my story will have a perpetuity i hope. >> well it will and it does make a vast difference i hope it achieves good circulation here and abroad i have read a number of memoirs and this provides insight and ideas that are in different because of that description of what we talked about earlier of how
the love within your family and with other people was able to keep you going through those experiences. i feel overwhelmed by ordinary life in new york so it was humbling for me. we will open up questions i hope somebody will be the first question ask her. >> i don't know how to ask this but someone the other night he said they picked up and left what makes so few people not leave and wait to see what happens? is it that they take them away one by one and you can deal
with it? what makes some people leave in so many stay and watch? i have been wrestling with that but i don't know if that is answerable. >> it is a difficult question. i think it has to do with flexibility and willing to take the step if you have a family if you are settled in a certain country and then to pick up and leave everything behind. it is unimaginable for people to do that and leave
everything behind but it's also how serious you interpret what is going around you. but to accept reality if you know that smoking that gets cancer but you say it won't happen to me. i can continue to smoke. so people felt it will not happen to me. they will stop and you just start thinking about other possibilities in order to escape the reality. i think it's partly a difference and personality and risk taking and that willingness to take the risk. >> i remember having that same
question myself as a child if we had relatives that were still in armenia why they had not left before the holocaust and he said they had nowhere to go and your family what was privileged. but i remember what i was first learning and i was completely terrified of that idea of not having anywhere to go. i wrote a book recently of a collection of my reporting in that's a conversation with my father and next question. >> thank you both for the interesting our.
that have any impact on how you behave? or have you never been? what is your relationship? >> that is also a challenging question i did not grow up in an orthodox family and my extended family, they were all jewish and celebrating jewish holidays. that was not the focus and then when the holocaust came my brother and i could not even go to religious school because that was not allowed anymore. for brother once said for him
that today. your mom was very ill. how did she wind up surviving and they didn't and how do you have a beautiful photograph? >> my mom was dying when we arrived in switzerland she got very good medical care. it took her a long time to recover but she did return to good health. and the photograph we had a
neighbor that was a photographer in amsterdam and she offered to keep our photographs when we got deported. such people were not allowed to keep anything and she said if the nazis come i am a photographer so how could they question that i have a lot of pictures so she kept them in and gave them back to us and i am extremely fortunate to have all those pictures and in that way things about my family history that i would not have known. >> spirit there was a
because in algiers we had more time to spend together and to recover from everything and some of those friends ended up in new york city. and then to see each other frequently but then people moved in different directions but then later in life to reconnect and continue the friendship. bat now with a group of peopl people, i am the only one that is still alive but i take pleasure to be connected with their children if there are children still alive and that
is the continuity that still exist. >> and keeping in touch before social media required more effort than it does today. >> my question to irene is how do you and your brother and your mom avoided or dealt with the trauma after coming to this country and dealt with any type of ptsd and the next generation of your children.
no now. i think it is a very serious problem for the survivors of the trauma to be carried out of those generations. >> this is pertinent to your question as lab mice were exposed to an odor with an electric shock every time the odor came in their direction and eventually they would jump and become very tense whenever the odor came their way. and then they bread the mice in the next generation have the adverse of reaction even though they had never experienced the electric shock. that goes on and on.
parents parents and then how that affected you to become your parents parents. >> how did that affect you to take care of your parents at a young age? >> that is all i had to live for was my parents and my brother. it is just natural to do this in that situation. they were weak and could not take care of themselves. i had more energy.
that's only thing that i have. i never would have question that. >> i love the description to say come on. to rally the troops and then quite close to the end. >> the question is about that your father seems to have a dignified burial and maybe i misunderstood that part but specifically in the area that is very characteristic of the holocaust of a dignified
burial. if you could clarify that point. >> that your father could have a dignified burial unlike so many other victims. >> that is always how we felt even though he died barely out of the concentration camp and so close to freedom, the other side was that he was buried in a cemetery and in the grave in the trench and to me that means a great deal that i have been able to go there.
and then they would always have a place to go to to visit ancestors. and the fact that the town was so welcoming. and the first time i ever went there it took a long time to find my father's grave but now it is just beautiful. a wall around it. wonderful people were taking care of it. it is the gratification. and then after the war ended
and was transferred to a nearby town with a jewish cemetery he and two other men died on the train and are buried right next to each other. we didn't know that was possible. >> thank you to one - - for speaking with us but after going through that to be a parent to your parent and with your family in algiers but when you are we not - - reunited? how are you able to become a child again and your mother to
become apparent again? that's a good question i never had the opportunity to be a child again because coming to america was very rough. we had nothing. homeless, penniless and stateless. we didn't have citizenship for so many years. my mother never worked before and here she was a single parent with two teenage parents and i went to school in the daytime and my brother went at night so we had to help pay the bills and contribute so i don't think i ever became a child again.
>> thanks so much for being here but you said that for a while after the war there were not very many books or representations of the holocaust but eventually a lot of histories and narratives and television shows and films that did you? and if so what do you think of the accuracy of how they told the stories of what you remembered? >> i don't recall in the first
for one - - few years. my daughter was of the age she was reading books even if i did it and brought them home but i did spend a lot of time covering that literature until considerably later and there are some excellent films that are very hollywood -ish and not particularly interesting and more recent film let the sun soul and in those
excellent books and i lead for a good many of them especially when i was writing my book. >> last question and then she will sign books. >> in the beginning you mentioned your father and your grandfather having a bank. what happened to the rest of your extended family and how difficult was it for your father to say we would leave. >> and then to become a partner in the bank but my
mother's parents they were deported and so then i never saw them again. my father's family had eight siblings and he is the only one that did not survive. his parents died of natural causes before the holocaust. but most emigrated into south america or to the united states or to belgium and have only one sister and then were murdered. but there wasn't a whole lot of family left after the war.
president never expecting to be at the highest level calling on for american presidents to act. this line i don't know. but it's okay. >> in my unique walk in the white house you may not always hear about it but it's always on the table. everything deals today looking at the president going to baltimore what is the issue well that's my town i grew up there. that my story is about trying to survive in the white house as a person let alone a
reporter in a white house that try to take me out in any way that they could calling me names, going after me. it hasn't been easy you didn't grow up with a silver spoon in your row that didn't raise a million dollars and you do not have the pedigree like harvard or yale or hcb you want --dash hbc you. and the president of the united states targets me and i'm still standing. [applause] so for that to happen that's a story that needs to be told we
need to put this on papers so our children can understand the struggles this is 2019 and we have issues to be told sit down and don't ask that question. this needs to be told. i believe it helps people because i found out people are going through micro- aggression on the job look at you nodding your head i did not know this. i have women come to me crying. it's amazing. so we need to tell the stories but it's real life and reality tv show style and to say mister president are you a
racist and his best friend a minister who i name in the book, wants to throw water at me. closure mouth. it's all right but these are stories you would not normally hear we have to take the veil off off of the people's house. date in my house those who have a more poor fit in - - more perfect union but at the end of the day this founding fathers never realized bill
clinton, the first black president and they never imagined donald trump would be there either. and a stand on those pillars put in place. my story is your story it's a story for all of us not just to say wow but what our children need to know that this is what happened. i stand on the shoulders of harry and those trailblazers at the white house. but what happened to them 70 years ago is happening today. i encourage you to read my story. everybody's got a story. >> before i introduce our