Love and Murder

A Memoir of My Family's War

Daniel Finkelstein

Proposal Original publisher: William CollinsMemoir

In this compelling new memoir, journalist Danny Finklstein describes in indelible detail the terrible things that befell his grandparents and his parents (as well as the rest of his family) during the Second World War.

His mother’s father, Alfred, a decorated hero from the Great War, is now widely acknowledged to have been one of the first — if not the first — person to recognise the existential danger Hitler posed to the Jews and began in 1933 with a team of researchers to catalogue in detail Nazi crimes. Finding his name on a Nazi death list he moved his family and his archive to Amsterdam in 1938 (where the Weiners became friendly with the family of Anne Frank). In 1939 he relocated his library once again, to London, and was here preparing to bring over his wife and children when Germany invaded Holland.

This left Alfred in London, and the rest of his family trapped in Amsterdam under Nazi occupation. Before long they were rounded up, robbed, humiliated, and sent to Bergen-Belsen. But Alfred had set in train a secret plan to furnish them with Paraguayan passports — part of an incredible scheme described in this book for the first time.

Danny also describes the harrowing deportation and separation his father’s Polish parents. His grandfather was sent to do hard labour in a Siberian gulag, while his grandmother and father were taken to the frozen interior of Kazakhstan to work as slave labourers on a farm. Here they survived the freezing winter in a tiny house they built themselves from cow dung and shared with other exiled Poles.