What's the difference between atrocities committed in war and outright genocide?by Joshua Rozenberg / May 19, 2016 / Leave a comment
Published in June 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
I always wanted to know exactly how my father had managed to escape from Nazi-occupied Poland and survive the Holocaust that killed almost his entire family.
Like so many other refugees trying to build a new life in a foreign land, he didn’t want to talk about the past he’d lost for ever. When my father reached his early seventies, though, he seemed more willing to open up. Thinking he’d find it easier to talk to a stranger, I arranged for a fellow journalist to interview him. There seemed no particular hurry. And then my father suddenly died. Even though I used to carry a BBC tape recorder on my shoulder for a living, I found I didn’t even have a recording of his voice—let alone an account of his life.
When my son was two, his grandfather died. So, after university, he set off for Poland to find out about the grandfather he never knew. To my amazement, he was able to trace the Rozenbergs of Izbica as far back as the 18th century. He also discovered that my father had been deported to the Soviet Union before enlisting in the Polish forces under British command in Iran. That was followed by the British Army, naturalisation and a return to his pre-war occupation as a tailor.