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The Presence of their Absence: A Personal and Film Journey

by Fred Zaidman, with Donna Kanter


Starting to ask

Like many children of Holocaust survivors, protecting our parents from the pain of sharing with us their harrowing experiences and loss of family in the Shoah, was a top priority. That was my case.

As much as I desired to learn who my family was, I simply couldn’t muster the courage to ask my parents until much later in life, the early 1990s, while filling out a questionnaire from the Red Cross. My father, Wolf Zaidman, was getting older and I was determined to find out if his brother Lejb was still alive.

Sitting with my father at the table, with my mother for support, I began asking the question that I knew would be very difficult for him to answer. He could barely talk and froze up, the pain of loss and memories were too much to bare. My mother coaxed him and repeated the answers that my father had whispered. It was the first time I learned the names of my grandparents, aunts, and uncles…..


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