Daughter Discovers Father’s Image on Book Cover

February 5, 2013 1:34 am 2 comments

Book cover for "The Emperor of Lies" by author Steve Sem-Sandberg

Sharon Wiener was initially drawn to the novel The Emperor of Lies because of the familiar theme: Poland’s Lodz Ghetto, a place her father had the misfortune of living during the Second World War. When she bought the book she knew it would be a difficult read, what she didn’t know was that her father would be a part of the book—literally. That’s because, as she explained to Canada’s National Post, the picture of a boy wearing the familiar gold Jewish star used as cover art is her father, Morton Weiner.

“I didn’t even look at the cover, initially. But when I got it home I did, and I knew instantly that the boy on the cover, walking towards me, was my father,” she told the National Post.

“There was a moment of shock, of seeing my parent as a child, and in terms of my father’s experiences in Lodz, I had grown up hearing about them and I had all these images in my mind.

“But to actually see him, walking on that street, right in the middle of what I knew was the ghetto — it is one thing to imagine — but another to actually see him, right there.

“It made all the stories he told me become so much more alive.”

Weiner contacted Joe O’Connor, a writer and columnist for the National Post who was able to track down the author of the book, Steve Sem-Sandberg.

“I didn’t have a single name for any of them,” the writer told O’Connor. “And to have one now, it is awesome. It is completely overwhelming, and I think it is also true to the spirit of the book — not that these are Jews, as a collective of victims — but that they were also, each and every one, individuals.

“That they are each living a singular life. And when now this boy is given a name, he is given a life — and given a single destiny — and it turns Nazi ideology on its head.”

Sem-Sandberg said that he, too, was initially drawn to the cover picture when he saw it among the Lodz city archives. It was taken by Walter Genewein, a Nazi and chief accountant in the Lodz ghetto who take hundreds of the color photographs. The photos were meant as propaganda, to show the “normal” life of Jews in the ghetto.

“Knowing the name of the boy in the photograph puts the lie to Walter Genewein and the way he saw things — that these people were just faceless Jews. And that’s the way I look at it.

“It is amazing to me.”

Morton Weiner’s life in Lodz was anything but ideal. Born in 1926, the youngest of nine siblings, only four survived the Holocaust. Five starved to death in Lodz. After the war he moved to Canada, where he finally settled in Montreal. Mr. Weiner died in 2004, having shared little of his personal experience during the war.

“We were a very close family growing up and Lodz always came up. My father, my two aunts — Hannah and Esther — and all their friends were survivors. Sometimes there would be a table of people talking, telling these stories about hiding, about what it was like to always look for a space to hide and even after the war having this trauma of constantly checking to see where they might hide if they had to,” Sharon Weiner told the National Post.

“My father pushed a lot of what happened to him away, just to keep going,” she added.

As for the picture, Sem-Sandberg says he plans on getting in touch with Ms. Weiner.

“I want to explain a little bit to Ms. Wiener about what I intended with the book and also why I chose the picture I did,” Mr. Sem-Sandberg says.

“It was a very careful decision and then, of course, I want her to tell me all about her father.”

2 Comments

  • The public’s awareness of history is so poor that accuracy is importsnt to avoid disseminating misleading information. So in the interests of truth, please amend the article to ‘Lodz Ghetto’, ‘ghetto set up in Lodz by German Nazis’ or similar – neither this nor any other ghetto can be said to be ‘Polish’.

  • Jim Przedzienkowski

    The term ‘Poland’s Lodz Ghetto,’ is incorrect. The Nazi Germans established the ‘ghettos’ on occupied Polish soil. The ghettos were not Polish as implied by the comment. Please correct the error.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Music US & Canada Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Pop superstar Lady Gaga on Thursday accepted an award from Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on behalf of her Born This Way Foundation, which strives to combat bullying among young people. “Your philosophies are so in line with ours,” she said of the ADL upon accepting the Making a Difference Award in a videotaped message, which was shown at a ceremony in New York City. “We want to help young people know that their feelings and who they are on [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    JNS.org – Eighty years young, Leonard Cohen fits many descriptions—singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, monk. From his Jewish upbringing in Canada to the present day, Cohen has always explored his spiritual side. This month, the singer-songwriter released the CD (May 12) and iTunes (on May 8 of this year) formats of his latest album, Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, which features live recordings from his world tours in 2012 and 2013. Last year, Cohen’s Popular Problems was voted by Rolling Stone [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    JNS.org – Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) head Sepp Blatter said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that contrary to Palestinian complaints, Israel has not violated any FIFA statutes and should not be suspended from international soccer’s governing body. “We should not come to one federation saying we will exclude them,” said Blatter, the Jerusalem Post reported. “If the national association is fulfilling its obligations then there is no need to intervene,” he said. “I’m on a [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Middle East Sports Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) said on Tuesday it was “appalled” by a Palestinian Football Association initiative to suspend Israel from FIFA, calling it another “front waged in the context of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.” “We are appalled at the temerity of the Palestinan Football Association (PFA) demand that FIFA suspend Israel at your forthcoming Congress in Zurich,” wrote the group’s international relations director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, in a letter to FIFA President Joseph [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    The lead actor in Son of Saul, an Auschwitz thriller featured at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, told the UK’s The Guardian that he believes God was “holding the hand” of each Jew who died in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust. “I do not for one nanosecond like to pretend that God is off the hook. He could and should have stopped it at a much earlier stage,” Géza Röhrig, 48, said. ”But I would not be able to get [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Backstreet Boys Singer Howie D Gushes Over Masada During Israel Trip

    Backstreet Boys Singer Howie D Gushes Over Masada During Israel Trip

    Backstreet Boys singer Howie Dorough took to Instagram on Tuesday to marvel about climbing the famed Masada fortress with his band during their visit to Israel, where they will perform this week for the first time. The group’s second day of sightseeing in the Jewish state included the Masada hike, and taking a mud bath at the Dead Sea. A picture from the band’s official Twitter page shows the five singers covered in mud. While relaxing in the Dead Sea, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews US & Canada ‘Arms and the Dudes:’ New Book, Film Detail How Ex-Orthodox Yeshiva Guys Became Top Suppliers for Afghan Army

    ‘Arms and the Dudes:’ New Book, Film Detail How Ex-Orthodox Yeshiva Guys Became Top Suppliers for Afghan Army

    A new book and its upcoming film adaptation tell the true story of how three former yeshiva students who habitually smoked marijuana scored a $300 million contract from the U.S. government to supply weapons for the Afghan Army, the New York Daily News reported on Sunday. Arms and the Dudes details how the Miami Beach potheads became “the most unlikely gunrunners in history,” according to the book’s author, investigative reporter Guy Lawson. The tale begins with Efraim Diveroli, nephew of [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Natalie Portman: Israel-Themed ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ Not Political

    Natalie Portman: Israel-Themed ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ Not Political

    JNS.org – Natalie Portman, who directs and stars in the new Hebrew-language film adaptation of author Amos Oz’s A Tale of Love and Darkness, says that despite Oz’s record as a vocal left-wing critic of Israel, her film is not political. Like the book on which it is based, Portman’s film is about a young boy at the time of the founding of the state of Israel. “I think the movie is very much about this very particular, specific family story. Of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.