Kiss Every Step: A Must-Read Survivor's Memoir of the Nazi Holocaust
I never thought I'd meet anyone who was actually THERE.
By "there," I mean in a concentration camp or ghetto or slave labor camp during the Holocaust.
All my life, I'd seen the movies, the documentaries, the photos. I'd heard the stories passed down from my grandparents to my parents and then to me. And I'd read the books. I'd even written my own book about a Holocaust survivor -- a work of fiction based loosely on a real person I'd heard about and on my own imagination -- but I never would have expected to meet a real survivor face-to-face ... to touch and speak to someone who really lived what I could only imagine.
That, however, is exactly what happened in May, 2014, at a local park here in Flagstaff, Arizona. When I realized who that old woman was who beckoned to me to come over to her table at the edge of the Memorial Day fair, to talk to her and perhaps buy her book, I started to cry.
I was just overcome with emotion, looking into the eyes of a woman who'd been to Hell on Earth and back. This wasn't some character in a film or a book; this was a real person who'd survived and even thrived despite years of persecution, torture, and hard labor in Nazi-occupied Poland. This sweet woman who reminded me so much of my own grandmother put her arms around me and patted my back. I didn't have to explain why meeting her made me cry.
That said, what I really want to tell you is that Doris Martin's book, Kiss Every Step, is a MUST read. This isn't "just" the memoir of one woman -- one child -- who survived the Holocaust, including a cattle car ride to the Auschwitz death camp, the selection that followed, and then years of slave labor; this is the otherwise unheard-of story of an entire family's survival.
There was Doris (born Dora Szpringer), her mother and father, three older brothers and her younger sister. That an entire Jewish family of seven all survived the Holocaust and then found one another after the war is simply incredible. And they may actually be the only family that did survive intact -- a unique circumstance among millions of families that were, in whole or in part, wiped out by the Nazis.
Why The Szpringers?
Was it luck? Miracles? Survival skills and ingenuity? Really, there was nothing in particular that set the Szpringers apart from any other middle-class Jewish family of the time, but, somehow, sometimes just barely, they made it.
Kiss Every Step is the riveting, remarkable firsthand story of the Szpringer family's survival, as told by Dora and her siblings.
Doris Martin -- formerly Dora Szpringer -- founded the Martin-Springer Institute with her husband, Ralph, in 2000 at Northern Arizona University to "promote the values of moral courage, tolerance, empathy, reconciliation and justice."
For information about the Martin-Springer Institute and upcoming events, visit nau.edu/martin-springer.
Have you read "Kiss Every Step"?
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© 2014 Deb Kingsbury