Author: Ariana Neumann
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Book Description: In this remarkably moving memoir Ariana Neumann dives into the secrets of her father’s past: years spent hiding in plain sight in war-torn Berlin, the annihilation of dozens of family members in the Holocaust, and the courageous choice to build anew.
In 1941, the first Neumann family member was taken by the Nazis, arrested in German-occupied Czechoslovakia for bathing in a stretch of river forbidden to Jews. He was transported to Auschwitz. Eighteen days later his prisoner number was entered into the morgue book.
Of thirty-four Neumann family members, twenty-five were murdered by the Nazis. One of the survivors was Hans Neumann, who, to escape the German death net, traveled to Berlin and hid in plain sight under the Gestapo’s eyes. What Hans experienced was so unspeakable that, when he built an industrial empire in Venezuela, he couldn’t bring himself to talk about it. All his daughter Ariana knew was that something terrible had happened.
When Hans died, he left Ariana a small box filled with letters, diary entries, and other memorabilia. Ten years later Ariana finally summoned the courage to have the letters translated, and she began reading. What she discovered launched her on a worldwide search that would deliver indelible portraits of a family loving, finding meaning, and trying to survive amid the worst that can be imagined.
When Time Stopped is an unputdownable detective story and an epic family memoir, spanning nearly ninety years and crossing oceans. Neumann brings each relative to vivid life. In uncovering her father’s story after all these years, she discovers nuance and depth to her own history and liberates poignant and thought-provoking truths about the threads of humanity that connect us all.
Rating: 4 Stars
Review: Ariana Neumann tells the story of her father, who after he died, she found an unbearable hidden secret from his past. Neumann grew up in Caracas, her father owned a factory and was considered one of the most influential men in the region. Her mother, was brilliant in her own right but had a very eccentric personality, which Neumann really does describe well.
When her father falls subject to many strokes, and eventually passes, he leaves her a box filled with letters in a different language and an ID Card, that she had once seen by accident when she was a little girl. It was her father, but with a different name. She holds onto this box for ten years before she decides to start this journey of learning her father’s history.
What Ariana Neumann finds out is shocking at least to her. She was raised with no religion, yet her Dad was a Jewish man from Czechoslovakia pre WWII. Through her research she finds extended family who help her fill in these missing gaps.
This was simply a beautiful story. She wrote a very engaging story, and I felt that being centralized in Czechoslovakia, I received a new perspective of this horrible tragedy. Throughout the book Neumann beautifully placed photos, letters and other documents that she was able to obtain. This is not just a holocaust story, but a love letter to her father.
Thank you Edelweiss and Simon & Schuster for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.