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...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    “Girls” creator Lena Dunham responded on Tuesday to charges of antisemitism over an article she had penned for the New Yorker, saying it was all in good humor. Speaking to Variety, Dunham reflected on her “tight-knit Jewish family, where Jew jokes were part of the essential fiber of our communication.” The article Dunham referred to was called “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz,” with options such as “He doesn’t Tip” and “He’s Crazy for Cream Cheese.” Among Dunham’s critics, Anti-Defamation [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Retired NBA player Keyon Dooling tweeted a link on Wednesday to a wildly antisemitic article that accuses Jews of seizing control of the world’s media and using it to promote their own interests. The article, published by an obscure blog in April 2013, highlights six companies it claims are owned by Jews — such as Time Warner, Inc. and the Walt Disney Company – that allegedly “control 96 percent of the world’s media.”  The post includes allegations of “Jewish control” and says [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz responded to an outcry from Jewish fans on Tuesday, saying he will go ahead and play in the season opener despite the fact that it falls on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. “Keep getting tweets about that being the first night of Rosh Hashanah… Don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you. It’s a tough break,” the Jewish athlete wrote, referring to the Giants’ on-the-road game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Sept. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    JNS.org – When David Blatt was hired as head coach of the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers last June, he was not often recognized when he walked the streets of downtown Cleveland. What a difference a year makes. Now, Blatt can go few places without being recognized. For good reason. The Jewish coach has the Cavaliers in the mix to win the city of Cleveland’s first championship in a major sport since the Browns won the National Football League title in [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    A Hebrew tattoo sported by Croatian soccer star Mario Mandzukic became an internet sensation in Israel after it was exposed on Tuesday during a Champions League match between Ateltico Madrid and Real Madrid A first glance, the tattoo, on the athlete’s back, might leave one with the impression that it was an unfortunate artistic mistake, since the Hebrew letters do not make sense as they are written. However, a closer look at the tattoo shows that it was actually written [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    For the past two years, I have served as Opinion Editor at The Algemeiner. I’m perhaps most proud of the paper’s commitment to publishing diverse and opposing viewpoints on the controversial issues of the day. We pride ourselves on voicing different opinions because we know that most issues are not black and white, and because our community is better served by a public debate. In my life outside of the paper, I am a professional actor and playwright. And similarly, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Sports Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    JNS.org – For Daphna Krupp, her daily workout (excluding Shabbat) at the Jewish Community Center (JCC or “J”) of Greater Baltimore has become somewhat of a ritual. She not only attends fitness classes but also engages with the instructors and plugs the J’s social programs on her personal Facebook page. “It’s the gym and the environment,” says Krupp. “It’s a great social network.” Krupp, who lives in Pikesville, Md., is one of an estimated 1 million American Jewish members of more [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.