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Always Remember Who You Are

When the Nazis invade eastern Poland in 1941, young Anita Ekstein, a cherished only child in a large, close-knit family, is suddenly living in the shadow of fear and violence. At seven years old, she and her parents are forced from their home into a ghetto, and one day, her mother is gone. As Anita’s father desperately tries to save his beloved daughter, he befriends a Catholic man who smuggles Anita out of the ghetto, risking his own life to save hers. Frightened, living among strangers and missing the warmth her parents provided, Anita learns how to be Catholic and spends most of her days inside and in silence. Always at risk of being discovered, Anita has only her newfound faith to accompany her on the lonely path of survival. After the war, orphaned and struggling with her identity, Anita finds her way through her grief and confusion to fulfill her father’s last request to Always Remember Who You Are.

Introduction by Beth Griech-Polelle

At a Glance
Postwar Poland; France
Hidden child
Passing/false identity
Postwar identity struggles
Arrived in Canada in 1948
Adjusting to life in Canada

232 pages, including index

Recommended Ages

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Photo of Anita Ekstein

About the author

Anita Helfgott Ekstein was born on July 18, 1934, in Lwów, Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine). After the war, Anita and her aunt immigrated to Paris, arriving in Toronto in 1948. A dedicated Holocaust educator, Anita founded a group for child survivors and hidden children in Toronto, participated in the March of the Living eighteen times and has spoken to thousands of students. Anita lives in Toronto.

Explore this story in Re:Collection

I had to assume a completely new identity and forget who I had been. And the family immediately began to teach me how to be a Catholic.