A Story of Hope for Our Times: Traveler’s Holocaust Book Published
This is the story of a story – one we should never forget. It’s especially poignant, and hopeful, in these times.
In My Soul is Filled With Joy: A Holocaust Story, author (and MIR traveler) Karen Treiger relates the saga of her in-laws, who met in a Polish forest outside the Treblinka death camp. It was August 1943, and Sam had just escaped in a prisoner uprising in which fewer than a hundred survived. Esther was already in hiding, helped by a Polish family who agreed to shelter Sam as well.
The book tells their story, following them as they dig a pit in the forest to hide in when the weather was warm enough and as they huddle inside a fake haystack in the barn of the Polish Stys family in the winter months. It describes how they finally arrive in New York Harbor, bereft of any family save each other, four years later.
My Soul is Filled With Joy also tells the story of how Karen Treiger tracked down the remaining children of that Polish family, met them, thanked them, and lobbied for them to be recognized as Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum. They risked the death sentence that came with harboring Jews, saving the lives of Sam and Esther – and consequently the lives of their child Shlomo, who became Karen’s husband, and their four grown children.
And that is where MIR comes in – specifically our Director of Sales, Joanna Millick. Born in Warsaw, Joanna developed a fierce sympathy for the Polish Jews who suffered in Nazi camps and in the ghettos organized in Nazi-occupied Poland during WWII. Though 90% of Polish Jews were murdered during the war, she felt obliged to make sure they and their 1,000 years of rich culture in Poland are never forgotten.
Volunteering for Seattle’s Holocaust Center for Humanity, Joanna met Karen, who thought of her when she received a box of old correspondence, written in Polish, between Sam and Esther and the Stys family. Joanna offered to translate them for her, and went one step further. She tracked down the son of the family, Eugeniusz Stys, who had been nine years old during the war. She and Karen were able to befriend him and his family via Skype.
Joanna helped design a private journey for Karen and her family to visit the little towns the Goldberg family came from, as well as the Stys family in Poland, and to stand at the edge of the pit where Shlomo’s mother and father had crouched through the war years. You can read more about their journey on MIR’s blog, and on Karen’s website.
Or, better yet, buy the book from Amazon. Published in October 2018, after three years of research and travel, My Soul is Filled With Joy: A Holocaust Story, was the topic of a recent interview with Karen on Seattle’s King 5 News (watch the video).
Joanna met the Stys family on a later trip to Poland. She says,
“This story enriched my life on many levels. I bonded with both Karen’s family and the Stys family, creating strong friendships for life. It also made me question my own choices and my values: would I find the courage to risk my life and the life of my family to save someone I barely knew?”
MIR is very proud of Karen’s accomplishment, and the fact that we were privileged to play a small part in her journey is an added extra for us. The miracle of Esther and Sam’s survival, the courage of the Stys family, and the tenacity with which Karen followed their trail are timeless and inspiring.
Mazel tov, Karen!
In April of 2019, Karen Treiger’s book, My Soul is Filled with Joy: A Holocaust Story, won a Bronze Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY) contest. Honoring the best independently published writing of the year, the award testifies to the importance of her story, winning bronze in the category of World History. Karen is in stellar company: the Gold and Silver were awarded to Yale University Press and John Hopkins University Press, respectively. Again – Mazel tov!
Family Heritage Trips with MIR
Researching family names and dates can lead to an irresistible longing to see the places that shaped the family stories. MIR has a dedicated team of Private Journey Specialists who can work with on-the-ground staff in any of our destinations to handcraft itineraries that let travelers connect with their family heritage in whatever way they wish.
For more information, call MIR at 800-424-7289 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You might also be interested in:
- Hidden in Poland: A Jewish Family Story
- Jewish Heritage in Russia: Travel to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Birobidzhan
- Jewish Heritage in Belarus
- Jewish Heritage in Azerbaijan
- Jewish Heritage Travel in Vienna and Prague: History and Holocaust Sites
- Holocaust Center for Humanity Museum: Objects from Auschwitz
- On Location at the Home of The Zookeeper’s Wife in Warsaw, Poland
- Return from Auschwitz: MIR Travelers and Holocaust Artifacts
- Finding Your Roots with MIR: Spotlight on Ancestry Travel
Top photo: Goldberg family photo. Photo credit: Goldberg Family Archive • Treblinka sign. Photo credit: Yad Vashem • My Soul is Filled With Joy: A Holocaust Story by author (and MIR traveler) Karen Treiger
PUBLISHED: November 1, 2018