Rotterdam to mark Holocaust Day with local survivor’s book

January 19, 2008

OnbestelbaarResidents of Rotterdam will find something unusual in their mailboxes next week — a book by a local Dutch Holocaust survivor recalling the wartime Nazi occupation of their city. Isaac Lipschits wrote it as a letter to his mother and entitled it Onbestelbaar (Undeliverable). That’s the “return-to-sender” message the Dutch Post Office stamps on letters whose recipients cannot be found. The author’s mother is untraceable because she was murdered in Auschwitz on January 15, 1943.

The publisher Uitgeverij Verbum plans to send 250,000 free copies of the book to all Rotterdam households — and make it available as a PDF download on its website — on January 24, three days before the international Holocaust Day marking the liberation of the death camp on January 27, 1945. It took the initiative with three Dutch groups devoted to honouring Holocaust victims and opposing racism — the Loods 24 Committee, the Netherlands Auschwitz Committee and the Holocaust Memorial Foundation.

With this free distribution of the Holocaust book, the sponsors want to encourage Rotterdamers to read the 76-page book and think about anti-Semitism and discrimination,” the Dutch news agency ANP wrote. “Rotterdam Mayor Ivo Opstelten will hand over the first copy of the book at City Hall to the author during the Auschwitz Memorial 2008 ceremony on January 23. Opstelten has also written the foreword to Onbestelbaar.”

Auschwitz concentration campThe publisher’s website describes the book as follows:

Isaac Lipschits was born in Rotterdam and grew up there (in Agniesenstraat 59b) until he had to go into hiding in 1942. His father ran a market business. His parents let Ies (his nickname) and his younger brother hide, and thus the two brothers were able to survive the war. The rest of the family died sorrowful deaths in Eastern Europe. In his book ‘Onbestelbaar,’ he writes a letter to his mother telling her what happened to him and the rest of the family. The result is a powerful indictment of injustice and the persecution of the Jews, as well as a call for respect. With its striking simplicity, ‘Onbestelbaar’ is a book for everyone, young and old, for minorities, Muslims, Jews or Christians, for believers and non-believers, those who are politically aware and those who are not…

Lipschits was born in 1930 in Rotterdam. After the war, he became a professor of contemporary history and taught at several universities in the Netherlands and Israel. Now retired, he was the initiator of the Digital Monument to the Jewish Community in the Netherlands that went online in 2005 to preserve the memory of all Dutch victims of the Holocaust.

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