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If Home Is Not Here

Max Bornstein’s epic account of a poor Jewish boy born in 1920s Poland is breathtaking in scope. Not quite two when he immigrates to Canada, he returns to Europe in 1933, the year that Adolf Hitler came to power. Barely surviving as a stateless refugee in 1930s Paris, he manages to escape as France falls to the Nazis only to be interned in a Spanish concentration camp. Rich in details of pre-war life in Poland, France and Canada and life for Jewish refugees in wartime Britain, If Home Is Not Here gives rare insights into the experiences of a Jewish boy caught up in political forces beyond his control.

Introduction by Amanda Gryzb

At a Glance
Poland; France; Spain; England
Returned to Europe from Canada in 1933
Spanish concentration camp
Mental health struggles
Postwar England
Arrived in Canada again in 1947

328 pages, including index

Recommended Ages

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Photo of Max Bornstein

About the author

Max Bornstein was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1921. After living in Canada as a child, he arrived back on Canadian soil fourteen years later, in 1947. In Toronto, Max worked in the garment industry, married Minnie and raised two children. He maintained an avid interest in quantum physics, international politics and in Judaism and Israel. Late in life, Max discovered his ability to play the piano and frequently entertained the residents in his long-term care home. Max Bornstein passed away in 2015.

Explore this story in Re:Collection

I dove into the frigid river, the sudden shock leaving me gasping. By the time that I was two-thirds across the river, my strength was fading…. Somehow, I managed to reach the shore — the unoccupied zone of France and my entry into freedom.