Erik Schumacher’s new book, “Mau and Gerty: A Jewish Love Story Between Migrations and World Wars” is out. I heard about it from my friend Myriam. I wanted to read it immediately. It tells the story of a couple, Mau Hanemann and Gerty Kelemen. Erik was inspired to write the book after one of the Hanemann daughters contributed her mother’s letters to the Netherlands Institute for War and Genocide Studies.
Last year Erik contacted me through this blog. He wanted to know more about my grandfather as he figured heavily in the Hanemann’s survival. Mau Hanemann was one of the men that my grandfather “employed” in the Westerbork metal works. That kept the family in the Netherlands for a longer time so they spent less time in the infamous Bergen Belsen. My grandfather also helped Mau and Gerty stay in touch with their young daughter, whom they left in hiding when they were sent to the camps. You can see why I want to read the book.
I looked for it on the shelves of a local bookstore, but it wasn’t there. I looked on Amazon, but it wasn’t there either. The book is on the Dutch Amazon site, but it wouldn’t ship to the USA. With some internet sleuthing I found a site in Holland called bol.com and was able to get a copy that way. The website promised two day delivery and I received the book two weeks later. Not bad.
I tore open the package when it finally arrived and started to skim through the book. I found my grandfather’s name on four or five pages. And then the realization hit me – I really can’t read Dutch. What was I thinking? I have a translation app on my phone and with a little patience was able to hold the phone up to the pages with the camera feature open to get a simultaneous translation – not perfect, but understandable.
I skimmed through the book a little more and found my name. I’m a footnote. Wow! I’m a footnote in a book! I guess I’m getting a little closer to getting published.
Erik, when you see this, please let me know when the English version of “Mau and Gerty” will be out. I’ll be your first customer.