Waltzing With the Enemy: A Mother and Daughter Confront the Aftermath of the Holocaust

Waltzing With the Enemy: A Mother and Daughter Confront the Aftermath of the Holocaust by Rasia Kliot and Helen Mitsios. Urim/Penina (Baker & Taylor, dist.), $19.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-936068-21-0

Mitsios (Digital editor; Geishas and Talking Frogs: The Best 21st Century Short Stories from Japan) and her mother, Kliot, deliver a dual memoir documenting how past tragedies reverberate through the years to affect children of Holocaust survivors. Kliot recalls the anguish and daily terror of her life in Lithuania during WWII. Having survived the Holocaust with false Christian identity papers (and having helped her mother and brother survive posing as Polish farmhands), she continued the charade after the war, falling in love with and marrying a Greek man. In 1951 they settled in Phoenix, Ariz., and Kliot continued to hide her true identity from her daughter, enrolling Helen in a Catholic grade school as “a way of providing her with a Christian identity if the need ever arose…. I didn’t want her to be rooted in a Jewish community that could entrap her and leave her vulnerable to discrimination.” In the book’s second half, Helen writes about seeking her own identity and learning of her mother’s, while struggling to change her mother’s fear that being Jewish would make them “outcasts.” These mirrored memories provide an intimate portrait, compelling and compassionate. 29 b&w photos. (June)

The original review from Publisher’s Weekly can be found here.

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