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The Unseen Survivor's Symphony: Unearthing the Song of the Soul through Storytelling

סיפור אמיתי על שורד שואה מיוחד...




On this evening of Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel, I sit in my living room, the haunting melodies of a solemn playlist filling the air and a muted memorial ceremony flickering on the TV screen.


These poignant sights and sounds stir memories of an ordinary Thursday afternoon when I found myself sitting alone in a Jems microbrewery restaurant in one of Tel Aviv's suburbs.


A half-filled pint of craft beer rested on the bar, while a nondescript brown carton box lay next to my high chair, its contents holding a treasure of unimaginable weight.

Throughout my career as a corporate storyteller, I have sought to weave "unseen symphonies" into the narratives I create for the individuals I am fortunate to work with.


Little did I know that this unique skill would one day serve to tell the story of my own father-in-law, Zvi, a Holocaust survivor who carried within him a tale of survival, resilience, and defiance.


For many years, my father-in-law kept his story locked away, never sharing the horrors he had experienced as a lonely 13-year-old Jewish boy in Berlin.


For many years, my father-in-law kept his story locked away, never sharing the horrors he had experienced as a lonely 13-year-old Jewish boy in Berlin.

Eventually, he began to open up, and the family learned, page by page, of his harrowing journey. He started to write, committing to paper over 300 pages of facts, dates, names, and events in German, that until then had only existed within the tangled web of his memories. He wanted to give birth to an Hebrew book voicing out his story.


The unfortunate sad but true fact was, that there are thousands of such unique individual’s survival stories, like Zvi's, stored in our public libraries. I truly wanted to help make HIS story stand out from the brave crowd, to give this brave man the smallest of rewards for deciding to unlock his Pandora’s box at the age of 70 or so.

To share a greater "why" beyond facts, dates, events, locations, and faces.


I truly wanted to help make HIS story stand out from the brave crowd.

I envisioned the responsibility before me, to craft an overarching narrative that would convey his tale with grace and power.


So I started.


As always, I enter my imaginary mental "Story Distillery". I imagined a vast, red-brick wall filled with chronologically connected post-it-notes holding facts, photos, events, locations, dates, emotions, and so on.


This time, not of new technology, or a disruptive product. But of a daring one man’s tale overcoming insurmountable odds.


I sat there. Seeking a tune that resonates. Looking beyond dry facts and order of things. And there it was. I could hear it. An unseen symphony.


And there it was. I could hear it. An unseen symphony.

During the darkest days in Berlin, my father-in-law had been a member of two underground resistance movements, one communist and one Zionist, each unaware of his involvement with the other. Uncovering this "revelation" became the nucleus of his narrative.


Around this core narrative, the rest of the story can weave itself together, forming a thrilling tapestry of survival and defiance (thanks to an incredible German-to-Hebrew translation and editing mega-project done by Mr. Uri Eshkar, a relative of Zvi).


As if by magic (mmm, that is, after many hours of linguistic and literary editing, photo scanning and restoration, fact-checking, and proofreading many drafts by an incredible team), a new book was born, titled: "Berlin: Between Two Resistance Movements".


During the darkest days in Berlin, my father-in-law had been a member of two underground resistance movements, one communist and one Zionist, each unaware of his involvement with the other. This "revelation" became the nucleus of his narrative.

Anchoring the story on the theme of "between two resistance movements" felt to me like crafting a narrative with distinct taste and flavor, where each aspect came together like notes in a symphony, allowing others to take a sip and drink in his story with enthusiasm.


And so, the first 50 freshly printed copies of his book (I always like to smell the pages) lay in the brown carton box beside me that Thursday afternoon, eager to meet their creator within the hour. It was a story that had taken a lifetime to tell and now, finally, it would be shared with the world.


And so, the first 50 freshly printed copies of his book lay in the brown carton box beside me that Thursday afternoon, eager to meet their creator within the hour.

In the words of Viktor Frankl, the greater "why" can move mountains and withstand anything. Let us strive to create symphonies for others, allowing their stories to stand out beyond facts and events, to touch the hearts of all who encounter them. Zvi's narrative is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and the importance of searching for meaning amidst the chaos of life.


To a future filled with hope and possibility.


Rest in peace, Zvi.



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