The Jewish Chronicle
Preserve your family history
THE STORIES of our past are so important to our future. They shape not only who we are but have the power to shape the lives of future generations of our family too.
Knowing our cultural background and where we came from can help us develop a strong sense of who we really are. The way we relate to our family stories and create our own narratives about ourselves helps establish our core identity.
LifeBook, the world’s leading private memoir and autobiography service, work with thousands of people across the globe, helping them to preserve their family history and ensure their legacy lives on, in a book which loved ones and future generations can enjoy, learn from and connect with in years to come.
LifeBook author, Ian Goldsmith, grew up not knowing much of his father’s childhood or his Jewish ancestry.
Ian explains: “My father was born Salomon Robert Goldschmidt, but he changed his name to Bob Goldsmith and became a naturalised UK citizen once he reached adulthood. He passed away when I was just 14 and never talked to me as a boy about his childhood or his family. He didn’t speak of his heritage or his Jewish ancestry and I have only two memories of events where his origins became apparent.”
Ian, along with his sister Susan, who co-authored the LifeBook, began to uncover their family
history after finding out that descendants of Germans whose nationality had been stripped of them – Jews and many other minority groups – were able to reclaim their nationality as German citizens. Something they were keen to do after the Brexit vote.
With just a photo of their father and an address in Hamburg to start with, their research took them to the World Jewish Relief (WJR), where they found out their father and his brother had arrived in England on the first Kindertransport in 1938. A member of their family then
happened across the record of their father’s uncle, Paul Goldschmidt on the Stolpersteine (memorial steppingstones) website. It was discovering the steppingstones website that was key to unearthing their family history.
“Piecing together the stories of each member of my father’s family and realising how many of them
The gift of a lifetime had died in concentration camps made for upsetting and stark reading. An entire generation of my family were wiped out.
“My grandfather Barthold was widowed and looking after two young sons. He began an illegal relationship with a non-Jewish lady, and he was reported to the police by his ex-wife (who he married after my grandmother had died of breast cancer). For his ‘crime’ he was put into prison and a few months later he was shipped off to the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen. My father and his brother went into an orphanage in Hamburg. This is what saved them, as it was children from the Hamburg and Berlin orphanages that were the first to be taken out of the country by the Kindertransport.”
Describing his experience, he says “Unearthing our family history has been both fascinating and appalling. The stories of our family have not only given us all a sense of who we are and where we came from but have also been hugely educational in understanding this period and why remembering the Holocaust is so important.
The value in recording the family history in our LifeBook is in what it will bring to future generations of my family – like my first grandson, newly born – he might never hear the stories from me but there is comfort in knowing that he will be able to learn about his ancestry by reading the book. There is a copy of our LifeBook in the library at Sachsenhausen where my grandfather Barthold died and a copy in library at the Institute for the History of the German Jews too.”
To find out more about capturing your life stories, visit lifebookuk.com/JC or speak to one of the team on 0808 296 5249.
“Now my father’s story and what happened to his family will always be remembered and can be used to educate future generations of our family and beyond.”
All Jewish Chronicle readers will receive an extra 5 copies of their memoirs worth £500 when they write them with LifeBook.