Beth's Book Review

Together: A Journey for Survival by Ann S. Arnold

Together: A Journey for Survival by Ann S. Arnold (Avalerion Books, 20160)

 

At the March meeting of the New Jersey Commission on the Holocaust, Mark Schonwetter, a survivor of the horrors of the 1930s and 40s, and his daughter, Ann S. Arnold, introduced the Commission to Ann's publication of her father's story, Together: A Journey for Survival. Arnold explained that she wanted the remarkable saga of her grandmother, aunt, and father's survival of the Holocaust to be recorded for future generations to know.

Early in the beautifully written memoir, Arnold states, “Only after I had children myself did I understand parts of the story all the way down in my soul. My grandmother's courage, strength, and perseverance will always stand as an example of the superhero-like qualities that can be found in a mother's love. She swore to her husband that she would keep them together. She kept her word.” (p.140) Through using her intuition, guts, and determination, Sala Schonwetter persevered in fighting to keep her little family alive during one of history's darkest hours.

Sign Up for E-News

The survivors of the Holocaust who are still alive today, for the most part, were children during those perilous times. Since most of the children who were sent to the concentration camps in Europe perished upon arrival, the remnants of the aging survivors are mostly children who were hidden by their neighbors. Many of the victims found shelter with brave citizens under Nazi siege, and are only now coming forward to tell their stories before they are lost to history forever. Talking about their experiences as fugitives remains a harrowing exercise for the handful of survivors who are still with us. When they do speak in schools, our students are held spellbound by their stories, and treat the elderly survivors with reverence and awe. It is truly amazing to attend a lecture given by a Holocaust survivor.

The Schonwetters lived in Brzostek, a village in Southern Poland. They ran a respectably prosperous farm until the arrival of the German army. Arnold tells us, “My grandfather quickly went from prestigious farmer and landowner to working on slave crews.” (p. ii) After her husband was taken in a round-up by the Germans and disappeared forever, Sala Schonwetter and her small son, Manek (who is known as Mark Schonwetter today) had a frightening encounter with an SS officer, in which a naughty Manek caused horses attached to a wagon to bolt, nearly unseating a uniformed soldier on a motorcycle. As Sala watched the drama unfold, she thought, “One heartbeat . . .Another heartbeat.” (p.10) In order to protect young Manek from a Nazi bullet, she beat her beloved son in front of the enraged soldier. From thereon, the lives of the Schonwetter family are marked by the conscious beats of a desperate mother's heart. The powerful theme of the beat of the human heart to stay alive, is the thread that connects one harrowing incident to another throughout the story.

In discussing the book with the Commission, Mark Schonwetter told the audience how his mother knew when it was safe to hide with families who agreed to take the risk. Arnold recounts her grandmother's logic in accepting help in this statement, “From house to house, she searched for someone willing to risk their lives to protect a Jewish family . . . Most of the people she entreated were happy to take them. This eagerness scared her. No sane person would want to risk the wrath of the Germans. Sala suspected their open arms meant they saw an opportunity to profit from their presence. She knew they would turn her and the children in at their first opportunity for nothing more than a jar of marmalade or a kilo of sugar. So she would move on.” (p.89)

Some of the time the little family stayed in barns, sleeping in sweet smelling hay. However, one farmer, a fellow named Ribba, escorted the Schonwetters to his stable. There he had dug out a grave, which he commanded Sala and her children get into. She stoutly refused to take up his offer until little Manek persuaded her by saying, “Marmusia, look. . . It's warm. Nice and warm. We don't have to worry about someone seeing us through the trees, and the wind cannot reach us down here. We will be able to sleep, really sleep, and not have to worry about anything.” (p. 91) Through the harsh Polish winter, the Schonwetter's existed in a forlorn pit, surviving on the meager bread and water that their host brought daily.

During the warmer months, Sala and her children scavenged the forests for berries, edible mushrooms, and whatever else they could find to eat. Constantly on the lookout for posses of German soldiers, the Schonwetters scrambled to stay hidden and survive. But, they emerged from the experience resembling skinny scarecrows left to pick up the remnants of their once happy lives.

Due to the violence and horror of the events of the Holocaust, it is difficult to find literature that is suitable for younger children. Staples of elementary and middle school reading materials are The Diary of Anne Frank, Number the Stars, and The Book Thief. Elie Wiesel's classic 100 page long story of his survival in the Auschwitz death camp is generally taught in the 8th or 9th grade. One of the compelling reasons to read Together:A Journey for Survival is that the horror is kept to the barest minimum and the larger themes of the struggle to survive, the importance of family in one's life, and the significance of having the courage to stand up to the bullies of the world, make this book a great one to use as an introduction to youngsters about the tragedies of the Holocaust.

Ann S. Arnold has achieved her goal of paying tribute to her strong and determined grandmother, but she also delivers the important message that even in the most dire events of the 20th century, there are moments of triumph and salvation to be recounted.

Beth Moroney, former English teacher and administrator in the Edison Public School District, specialized in teaching Creative Writing and Journalism. Recently Moroney published Significant Anniversaries of Holocaust/Genocide Education and Human/Civil Rights, available through the New Jersey Commission on the Holocaust. A passionate reader, Moroney is known for recommending literature to students, teachers, parents, and the general public for over forty years. Moroney can be contacted at trackdak19@hotmail.com.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Morristown

AtlantiCast: Episode 007

On this week’s AtlantiCast, you’ll see how Atlantic Health System is driving innovation and finding new ways to solve tomorrow’s health care challenges, find out how a near tragedy on the tennis courts was averted thanks to some world-class training and technology at Chilton Medical Center and meet the 70 cancer doctors you need to know about – plus much ...

Parent Workshop: Cultivating a Culture of Kindness Marcia McEvoy, PhD.

MORRISTOWN, NJ - In this often humorous and interactive workshop, parents will be presented with information about how to work collaboratively with their school to promote kind behavior. Strategies for addressing teasing, exclusion, name calling, and general unkindness will be shared. The research on how to reduce peer mistreatment is discussed, as well as how to increase compassion and empathy ...

El Mejicano Hosts Benefit Dinner for Dralla Foundation

November 19, 2017

The Dralla Foundation awards grants to organizations that align with their mission of “Giving individuals with physical challenges an unforgettable day”.  El Mejicano in Denville will be hosting a dinner to benefit the foundation.  Funds from the dinner will not only help them to make more unforgettable days possible, but it will also give the local community a chance to ...

Christie Appoints Local Residents to State-Related Positions

November 20, 2017

VERONA/CEDAR GROVE, NJ — Governor Chris Christie appointed local residents to state-related positions via the Secretary of State's Office last week. 

Cedar Grove's Joseph Maceri was appointed to the Essex County College Board of Trustees as a public member and Verona's Nancy Tanella was appointed to the Noise Control Council as a public ...

Morris Township Kids Encouraged to Write Letters to Santa

November 13, 2017

MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ -  Morris Township kids between the ages of 4 and 8 are encouraged to write letters to Santa. All letters will be answered by Santa.

Letters can be mailed to: Santa c/o Township of Morris Parks and Recreation Department at 50 Woodland Avenue, PO Box 7603, Convent Station, NJ 07961-7603.  Make sure to include the child's name, age, phone number and ...

Morristown Veteran's Day Ceremony to be Held, Nov. 11

MORRISTOWN, NJ -  The Town of Morristown will hold a Veteran's Day Service on Saturday November 11 at 11:00 a.m. on the Morristown Green. Mayor Timothy Dougherty will provide opening remarks and local veterans who have served the country will also speak.

In the event of rain, the event will be moved to the Morris Township Municipal Building

This past week, Andrew Lachawiec, ...

6th Annual Dance for Kindness, a Worldwide FlashMob, Comes to Morristown Nov. 12; Sign up to dance now!

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Every year, to kick off World Kindness Week, Life Vest Inside organizes Dance for Kindness, a WorldWide FreezeMob/FlashMob during which groups from all across the globe unite under the banner of kindness and join together to perform to the same song, same dance, all happening on the same day. Last year’s event took place in 50 countries spanning across 120 ...

Paranormal Event Scheduled for Saturday in Morristown

November 17, 2017

 MORRISTOWN, NJ - Halloween is gone, but the ghosts have stayed.

Ghost hunters can experience the phenomenon known as 'ghost hunting' on Saturday November 18 from 7:30pm - 11pm. Join experts in exploring the 1890 historic Frelinghuysen Mansion while learing about the different methods and equipment used.. The paranormal adventure will be run by the Island Paranormal ...

Morris Township Announces Two Special Events; Breakfast with Santa and a Hockey Game

MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ -  Morris Township is sponsoring two events for residents; Breakfast with Santa and NJ Devils Hockey Night.

Breakfast with Santa will be held on Saturday December 2 from 9:30 am - 12noon at the Collinsville Fire Station. The event is for children between the ages of 3 and 8. Reservations and payment must be received by  Monday, November 27th.  Cost ...

Morristown Temple Holds Opening Reception for Mira Sasson's Recent Work of Art

MORRISTOWN, NJ – An opening reception for an exhibition of Mira Sasson’s recent works of art, will be held on November 17, 3-5pm at The Linda Grandis Blatt Gallery of Temple B’nai Or [buh-NAY OAR], 60 Overlook Road, Morristown.

The show, ‘The Fibers of Time,’will run through January 19, 2018. Gallery hours are during Temple B’nai Or [buh-NAY OAR] ...

Morristown High School Graduate Part of the Navy; Building and Fighting Around the World

November 12, 2017

SAN DIEGO - “We Build, We Fight” has been the motto of the U. S. Navy’s Construction Force, known as the “Seabees,” for the past 75 years. A 2003 Morristown High School graduate and Morristown, New Jersey, native builds and fights around the world as a member of an amphibious construction battalion center located in San Diego, California.

 

Lt. Karen ...

Widower Lost Ring in Morristown; Please Help!

MORRISTOWN, NJ -  A recent widower has lost his wedding ring in Morristown. If you are in and around the Morristown area please keep your eyes open!

The man who has been married for 62 years was making donations at the Bargain Box, on Market Street and then at Staples when he noticed his ring was missing.

The ring is a yellow gold band with filigreed edges not to mention ...

Morristown Kicks Out Cancer with Kickball Fundraiser

MORRISTOWN, NJ - On Saturday November 4, the Relay for Life of Greater Morristown will be hosting a kickball fundraiser at the Central park of Morris County at 12 noon.

Kickball for a Cause is fundraising for the American Cancer Society. As of Friday morning, $815 has been raised. The group has listed a goal of $1,000 for the event.

Teams, with a minimum of eight players, will be ...

New Jersey Transit Offers Rail Shuttle Trains for Sunday's NY Giants vs Chiefs Game

November 18, 2017

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- New Jersey Transit will offer rail shuttle service to the Meadowlands Sports Complex for the NFL game between the New York Giants and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Service to MetLife Stadium begins at 9:41 a.m. from the Secaucus station, with the final Meadowlands-bound train leaving Secaucus at 2:01 p.m. Commuters are encouraged to purchase round trip tickets at their ...

Morristown National Historic Park Hosts Piano Recital; Nov. 19

MORRISTOWN, NJ - The Morristown National Historical Park is welcoming Hungarian pianist Peter Toth back for a piano recital this coming Sunday. Toth will play selections from American composer Arthur Foote and Hungarian Franz Liszt on the park's 1873 Steinway Grand piano.

The recital will take place on Sunday November 19 in the auditorium of the National Historical Park, located at 30 ...

Hanover Tigers Pee Wee Team Receives “Call to the Hall” - Grade 5/6 Team Selected for Mid Atlantic Regional Championships

WHIPPANY, NJ - Just one game away from completing their fourth undefeated season, the Hanover Tigers Pee Wee team (Grade 5/6) has been officially chosen to Participate in the Mid Atlantic Regional Championships and ultimately compete at the National Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio December 14-17. 

The team has been under observation for several months and was scouted out by a team ...

Do you have high blood pressure under the new guidelines?

New guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology announced last week revised the reading at which high blood pressure is diagnosed from 140/90 to 130/80.  This change increased the number of Americans with high blood pressure from about a third to almost half of all adults. Previous guidelines had a systolic reading of 130-139 as pre-hypertension or ...

10 Simple Steps to Ready Your NJ Home for Holiday Guests

You’re readying your New Jersey home for houseguests.  You want them to feel welcome, comfortable, and — dare we say it? — maybe even a tad envious of your hosting prowess.

No need to moonlight at hospitality school. Airbnb hosts with tons of great reviews supplied these quick, easy (and cheap!) ideas to turn your New Jersey home into a vacation ...

A Night of Redemption

FLORHAM PARK,N.J.-MetLife Stadium was a beautiful hue of green on Thursday night, November 2nd, as the New York Jets took the field.  67 degrees at game time under an almost full moon, with absolutely no breeze, was the perfect setting for the New York Jets to take home a win against their division rivals, the Buffalo Bills.

After a delectable meal at Gencarelli's of Lyndhurst, a ...

Bakersfield Mist contrasts art and reality

‘Bakersfield Mist’ explores art versus reality

By Liz Keill

MORRISTOWN, NJ – The Bickford Theatre presents a touching, often hilarious, two-person play about a woman in a trailer park in Bakersfield, California, who thinks she has purchased an original Jackson Pollock at a thrift shop.

With this unlikely premise, the play evolves into a matter of wills, wishful thinking ...

Join Us in A Hunger Strike: to demand a #CleanDREAMAct

November 19, 2017

As Congress comes home for the Thanksgiving recess, DREAMers from across New Jersey will be launching a hunger strike to demand a #CleanDREAMAct - a DREAM Act that provides a pathway to citizenship for immigrant youth without funding Trump's deportation machine.

The hunger strike starts this Monday at 11am EST and will go through Thanksgiving Day. Strikers and ...

Celebrating the Holidays After a Divorce – How Separated Couples Choose to Share Time With Their Children Can Make a Big Difference

November 18, 2017

With the holidays approaching, people are busy making travel arrangements and shopping lists, digging out old recipes and getting their homes ready for what is arguably one of the most family oriented times of the year. However for couples with children who are ending their marriage or relationship these times come with an added layer of concern as to how they will share time with their children ...

Candidate Statement From Rozella Clyde: What if the Pundits are Wrong?

October 31, 2017

WHAT IF THE PUNDITS ARE WRONG?

The New Jersey Hills Media ran a story over the weekend researched and written by Kathy Shwiff emphasizing that the Republican Freeholder Heather Darling, the Hills Media’s chosen candidate had raised $ 7000 more money as of the October reporting deadline than Democratic Freeholder candidate Dr. Rozella G. Clyde.  An October 26th editorial also ...

Upcoming Events

Tue, November 21

The Wayrick Wildlife Gallery, at the Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Gallery, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: The Wayrick Wildlife Art Gallery -- ...

Arts & Entertainment Education Green

Wed, November 22

The Wayrick Wildlife Gallery, at the Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Gallery, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: The Wayrick Wildlife Art Gallery -- ...

Arts & Entertainment Education Green

Thu, November 23

The Wayrick Wildlife Gallery, at the Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Gallery, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: The Wayrick Wildlife Art Gallery -- ...

Arts & Entertainment Education Green

Morris County Police Arrest Three for Narcotics

November 16, 2017

MORRIS COUNTY PARK POLICE  BLOTTER 10-28 through 10-31, 2017

10/29: ARREST FOR NARCOTICS: Officers executed a motor-vehicle stop for a moving violation in Dover. An investigation led to a juvenile to be charged with Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance. The juvenile was released to a parent from the scene.

10/31: ARRESTS FOR NARCOTICS: Officers executed a motor-vehicle stop ...

Thanksgiving Holiday Safety - Red Cross Offers Travel Tips & More

November 20, 2017

NEW JERSEY - Millions of people are expected to travel over the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, and the American Red Cross is offering tips travelers can follow as they visit loved ones over the long weekend.

More vehicles will be on the roads, making the travel risks greater. Bad weather and distracted drivers add to the danger. Plan ahead and expect delays.

DRIVING SAFETY

1. Make sure ...