Letters from the Lost
302 pages, 6 x 9
b&w photos, map
Release Date:01 Feb 2010

Letters from the Lost

A Memoir of Discovery

Athabasca University Press
On March 15, 1939, Helen Waldstein’s father snatched his stampedexit visa from a distracted clerk to escape from Prague with his wifeand child. As the Nazis closed in on a war-torn Czechoslovakia, onlyletters from their extended family could reach Canada through thebarriers of conflict. The Waldstein family received these letters asthey made their lives on a southern Ontario farm, where they learned tobe Canadian and forget their Jewish roots.

Helen Waldstein read these letters as an adult – this changedeverything. As her past refused to keep silent, Helen followed thetrail of the letters back to Europe, where she discovered livingwitnesses who could attest to the letters’ contents. She has hereinterwoven their stories and her own into a compelling narrative ofsuffering, survivor guilt, and overcoming intergenerational obstacleswhen exploring a traumatic past.


  • 2011, Winner - Alberta Readers’ Choice Award
  • 2011, Winner - Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-fiction
Since receiving her Ph.D in French Literature, Helen WaldsteinWilkes spent 30 years teaching at every level in Canada and inthe U.S. Her research interests include cross-cultural understanding,language acquisition, and neurolinguistics. Now retired and living inVancouver, she is actively examining her own cultural inheritance andits impact.





Family Tree

Opening the Box

Leaving Home

Letters to Antwerp

Starting Over

Letters to Canada

Searching In Europe: 1997–1998

My Aunts and Uncles

My Grandparents

War Breaks Out

The Family Copes

The Letters Stop


After the War

Finding Home

Searching for Family Again

Searching for Family One Last Time



Selected Bibliography

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