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 stamped
exit visa from a distracted clerk to escape from Prague with his wife
and child. As the Nazis closed in on a war-torn Czechoslovakia, only
letters from their extended family could reach Canada through the
barriers of conflict. The Waldstein family received these letters as
they made their lives on a southern Ontario farm, where they learned to
be Canadian and forget their Jewish roots.

Helen Waldstein read these letters as an adult – this changed
everything. As her past refused to keep silent, Helen followed the
trail of the letters back to Europe, where she discovered living
witnesses who could attest to the letters’ contents. She has here
interwoven their stories and her own into a compelling narrative of
suffering, survivor guilt, and overcoming intergenerational obstacles
when exploring a traumatic past.


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