It was a privilege to enable Esther Tschachnik in recording her Holocaust story — in retrieving painful memories, in bearing witness — and for me to be a witness, weaving it all together in her memoir. I was honoured to listen to her words and to the unspoken, reflecting inexpressible pain, resilience and strength.
Sadly, countless stories of survivors and the millions decimated remain untold forever, buried in shtetlach, mass graves, camps and fields of ashes, just as the story of the entire family of my late father, Zavel Fien. All of his family vanished without a trace. They could not bear witness and share their stories. Immigration restrictions prevented bringing them to Canada. My father did not share much information about them. Perhaps it was too painful for him, or he did not wish to cause me pain. It has been painful, too, for me, always searching for any traces, hoping for survivors or to be able to determine their fates.
So recording Esther’s story took on personal meaning, becoming a way for me to honour the memory of the Fajntich family ZL, of Kovel, Poland, who once lived — my father’s family and my family, too — his parents, my grandparents, Shloime bar Dov and Toibe bas Zavel, their sons, Chaim Dov, Yakov Gedalia and their families, their daughter, Rifka, her husband, Moishe, and children, Tzvi Hershele and Lea. May their souls be bound up in the bond of eternal life.