Armchair Historians

Jason Sommer, Shmuel's Bridge

February 03, 2022 Jason Sommer
Armchair Historians
Jason Sommer, Shmuel's Bridge
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Anne Marie interviews memoirist and award-winning poet Jason Sommer. Jason is the author of five poetry collections: most recently, Portulans in the University of Chicago’s Phoenix Poets Series. His two other Phoenix books are Other People’s Troubles, which won the Society of Midland Authors Award and was a finalist for the PEN/USA West Award, and The Man Who Sleeps in My Office, a finalist for Kansas City Star’s William Rockhill Nelson Award.The Laughter of Adam and Eve was published by Southern Illinois University as the winner of the Crab Orchard Review Competition.  Poems from his first collection, Lifting the Stone, from Forest Books, London, have been broadcast on the BBC World Service.

Today, however, Jason talks to Anne Marie about his beautifully written new memoir, Shmuel’s Bridge which will be released March 1 of this year, it is currently available for pre-order. Against the backdrop of the Holocaust, Shmuel’s Bridge sees history through a double lens: the memories of a growing son’s complex relationship with his father, and the meditations of that son who, now grown, finds himself caring for a man losing all connection to a past that must not be forgotten. 

Resources:

Jason Sommer: website: https://jasonsommer.com

Hungary in WWII: Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungary_in_World_War_II

Why It Matters That Hungary’s Prime Minister Denounced His Country’s Role in the Holocaust: Smithsonian Article: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/holocaust-and-hungary-prime-minister-180964139/

Munkacs: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website: https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/jewish-community-of-munkacs-an-overview

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Anne Marie Cannon:

Hello, my name is Anne Marie cannon and I'm the host of armchair historians. What's your favorite history? Each episode begins with this one question. Our guests come from all walks of life. YouTube celebrities, comedians, historians, even neighbors from the small mountain community that I live in people who love history and get really excited about a particular time, place, or person from our distant or not so distant past. The jumping off point is a place where they became curious, then entered the rabbit hole into discovery, fueled by an unrelenting need to know more, we look at history through the filter of other people's eyes. I'm Chair historians is a Belgian rabid production. Stay up to date with us through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Wherever you listen to your podcast that is where you'll find us. I'm Chair historians as an independent, commercial free podcast. If you'd like to support the show and keep it ad free, you can buy us a cup of coffee through coffee, or you can become a patron through Patreon links to both in the Episode Notes. Hello fellow armchair historians. It's been a while since last we met here and that's because I recently took a long much needed cross country road trip in which I reconnected with family and friends. It was so good to see and be in the space of some of the people I love the most. I also use the 40 hour round trip drive to catch up on my favorite podcasts, some of my faves being civics and coffee care more be better yield crime podcast in horrifying history, just to name a few. Check out the Episode notes to see a list of other podcast recommendations. Another highlight of the trip was helping my daughter get settled in her new house in a new town which has an amazing historical backstory and bonding with my grand puppy Wiley. He's a good dog. Anyway, I'm glad to be back in this space connecting with you. I have some really interesting guests coming up in the near future and have begun laying down the groundwork for our first limited series about 19th century and Matic entrepreneur extraordinare Charles H ubter, aka Colorado Charlie, stay updated on all things armchair historians through our social media. You can find us on Twitter at username armchair historian one on Instagram at armchair historians and on Facebook at armchair historians in this episode I interview memoirist and award winning poet Jason summer. Now Jason is the author of five poetry collections, most recently Porche Alonso in the University of Chicago's Phoenix poets series today, however, Jason talks to me about his beautifully written new memoir Schmelz Bridge, which will be released March 1 of this year. It is currently available for pre order against the backdrop of the Holocaust. Schmelz bridge sees history through a double lens, the memories of her growing sons complex relationship with his father, and the meditations of that son who now grown, finds himself caring for a man losing all connection to a past that must not be forgotten. Jason, welcome to armchair historians. Thanks for being here.

Jason Sommer:

Thank you for having me.

Anne Marie Cannon:

So we just gonna start out with the question and see where we go. I, I do want to tell you that I did start reading the book and it's beautiful. You are obviously a poet the way you write. So let's just get into the question. What's your favorite history that we're going to be talking about today?

Jason Sommer:

Well, the history that we'll be talking about makes the question of favorite a little difficult. It's the history of the Holocaust as background to a memoir of prose memoir that I've written, nobody gets driven away quite as thoroughly as when you mentioned poetry. And it's it's not a poem. It's a memoir that for the bat, the background, which is my father's Holocaust story, and the Holocaust stories of my family. It's a history that I wouldn't call favorite but but seems assigned to me by my background, essentially, I've embraced an interest in it and tried to immerse myself somewhat in it. I'm, I'm not an expert, but I've made myself I've educated myself with regard to my my family's story anyhow.

Anne Marie Cannon:

So you have a book that is coming out or just came out.

Jason Sommer:

Out March 1, called smiles bridge. Yeah,

Anne Marie Cannon:

Shimon Bridge. So I think we're going to be talking about the, the book and the memoir. I like I said, I started reading it. I don't know what happened to small. So I'm really curious and I know that has a lot to do with the book. But like I said, the, the way you write it just there's so many layers and each word in each sentence, and it's really beautifully written. So thank you. With that. Let's talk about why is the name of the book Schmelz bridge?

Jason Sommer:

Well, small is my father's youngest brother, two brothers. And Schmell made an escape attempt from transport to Auschwitz, a train transport, from his hometown, Mongkok to, to Auschwitz and the book. It's at the center of the book. It's my father's deepest grief about the Holocaust, despite war that my father's suffer. Dad's biggest wound really is the loss of his of his kid brother. We attempted to find the place where he made where smile made his escape attempt. It was a way for me to give my father something that was it's a complicated gift, anything with the Holocaust is but to contribute in some way to my father's understanding of what happened there and to also honor honor the memory by trying to go there and be at that place and be more closely associated in some way. With what happened to me well, it was also on a trip to Eastern Europe that was originally designed for me to visit the places of my father's Holocaust. And his hometown, his home village, which is outside Moncada, which is now in the Ukraine. It's a it's a much traveled city, in the sense that, that it's now in the Ukraine, it was Austro, Hungary, it was Czechoslovakia for a time, then it was given to Hungary, post World War One as part of the redrawing of the boundaries of Europe. And we essentially followed the tracks from whom Kotch to Auschwitz and visited other places to and including, where my father was interned. labor camp, forced labor, slave labor, and traversed also the places some of the places he traveled, when the Russians liberated him, he was in a reluctant volunteer in, in the Russian army, and traversed what was then Czechoslovakia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic now than 2001. So it's, it's quite some time ago.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Well, I can in ways I can relate with this. My mother was born in Belgium. And in World War One, her family was executed by the Germans. She wasn't Jewish. But then in World War Two, when she's eight years old, the Germans are coming again after the what they call the rape of Belgium. And we went back in 2012, kind of similar, but different. And we went to the different places that they were on the legend is the last train leaving Belgium, we went to all those places. And so I understand that and it, the book, and the concept really resonates with me. Now, it's interesting, because it's a memoir, from two perspectives. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Jason Sommer:

Yeah, I'm anxious that it not be mistaken for a biography of my father. Because, in fact, it's, it's a memoir, and it's about fathers and sons, or this son, and that father, who is going to be 99 in the coming year, and he's still with us. He is still with us, he is still with us. Part of the impetus of the book, as you know, from from the beginning is preserving the memory, because his memory is now going there was some extra urgency to getting this stuff down. Not that he consulted all that much with this, but he's here still, and watching what happens to memories in the memory of the Holocaust, what I think of as the mortality not just of us, but the mortality of our memories, which are breakable, it's the story of living with those stories, and what one does with them, part of the my eagerness or my I don't know what to call it, my drive really to, to find the place that moil died, was also to not be just the recipient of story all the time. So kind of a mixed motivation, that I find myself, you know, being so much, in a generation that had a much softer, I mean, every generation, but softer than the people who'd gone through the Holocaust, but wanting to assume a kind of majority of my own, so that I could do some research and I could lead the way in a way to, to that place. So it was a an exchange of a gift for the pain of memory and on my father's part, but it also was an effort to be an adult with him, it's very hard to be an adult, when the experience across the way from you makes your life seem less and somewhat less authentic, certainly less full of challenge. I mean, my father is a figure, he escaped, he was in the Russian army, and he came to the United States with an incomplete education, you know, it not even completed in terms of elementary school. And he ended up two masters degrees, abd and National Teacher of the Year, he always wanted to teach any, he knows many languages, 10 languages, and he had many opportunities to do other things. But he wanted to be a teacher and became a really a superb one by anybody's standards.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Now, you didn't set out to write this memoir, I think I read, how did that come about? How did that well, how did you move into this?

Jason Sommer:

I have been writing poems, narrative poems, poems with stories about my father's experience, and my aunt's experience. She's an Auschwitz survivor. And just the dynamic of my aunt refused to speak. And my father always spoke about it, or very, very soon. In my childhood, I remember him being much more explicit and my and cutting off conversation utterly. So it was a long process that involved a lot of writing. But then as my father's memory began to go, I thought, No, this is shouldn't vanish. Nor should the contest with it, the struggle with it vanish. And so one thing that I represented in the book is not just the preservation of the memory, but the cost of all of that, and you know, not just not poor me, but the cost in looking at these things really hard, and what you get for that, in terms of an understanding of history, but also of the way history impacts on the most personal relationships that you can have with your mother with your father. So it's history and right down to the granular level. Yeah,

Anne Marie Cannon:

right. Oh, it is. And I, I have a belief that we carry our history in our DNA. And I know, when I went back to these places with my mother, where they got on the last train, where she walked to the train station, under artillery, German artillery fire. And when we went to the place where the monument to her first world war relatives who were executed, where there was a healing inside of me, and I don't know, if you experienced this, there was a healing in the sense of recognizing in a way that you can't even put into words, how I carry that inside of me through being raised by my mother, whatever DNA memory I have. And even though it's uncomfortable and painful to go back and look at those things, I also felt that my mother who was a very difficult person to have as a mother, I saw something happen inside of her that was, I believe, it was like a healing. It was a return to where she lost her innocence at the age of eight. And I'm wondering if you had any of those experiences, in your journey in your experience with your dad.

Jason Sommer:

Much of the journey was about getting closer to him getting past the story by getting through the story in a much more proximate way than I could before. I had refused the opportunity when it presented itself earlier. The town was cut off by The Soviet Union, because it had some military installations in it, factory for armament and, more importantly, a radar station of some sort. So we couldn't, he couldn't go back, he couldn't go back to see his mother's gray. And he wanted me to come with him when and when I felt able to I could when I felt I had enough life under me. And enough accomplishments so that I felt I could enter again, to this, this large life that was near mine, Sonia mind. And so there were a number of episodes where, you know, at his mother's grave, with his, with his son, at at his labor camp, where he thought he wouldn't get out of that. Areas that he had, had traveled through where his life was under threat. And the bridge itself, kind of, I don't know, whether I should hold back, you know, it's, it's a, it's a moment of climax in the book, do I give the game away?

Anne Marie Cannon:

No, don't give it away, don't give it away, because I want to, I'm in the middle of reading it, I'm invested. And I want it, I want to know what happens, I know that something important happens there. So

Jason Sommer:

well, something important happens all along the way. And there's a particular vulnerability in my father, he, he began to tell the story in his life, you know, he had a public forum, after a while he was pointed by President Reagan to the Excellence Commission. And he began he, he spoke about the Holocaust to larger audiences than just the family. And there becomes a kind of both for the survivor. And I think the survivors family, there's a kind of a covering that, you know, the story gets to being if not wrote, than then practiced in some way. So that they can bear telling it. And, and there's a way to consider the audience you know, so you're, so it's not so abject, so it's not so horrible. And, and in that way, the stories get remote, where they they're withdrawn a step or two, and, and we closed in on the story. And we're willing both of us from either side, to do that. And we got closer, we varied some of the difficulties that all that always come with families that have these terrible events in, there's trauma. And I don't know whether it's DNA, forgive me, I shouldn't disagree with those, but I, but I certainly, I think the stories that are told, and the aura around a family of fear, you know, of sniffing the air for danger. It is there and and needs to be accounted for the stories are in part that but also needs to be settled with in some way. And we did some of that, though, it was painful to be in that place with my, with my father in those places. And I was afraid always, that I would fail him that I would not be enough of comfort, though my very being in a kind of way, is seen by my father as a kind of a triumph for people tried to kill him, tried to ensure there would be no progeny there would be no future for him. And he made a future in America. So having me at his just at my grandmother's grave was something for both of us. But by all reckonings he should not have been able to be there or anywhere. But he, he was lucky. And also I mean, he talks about his luck all the time. And luck is a big part of things with survivors. But there's something about my father, he's got real pluck to go with his luck, you know, and his languages.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Did he end up in Auschwitz?

Jason Sommer:

He did not. He did not he had gone to Budapest, where the roundups of the Jews happened later the country that Hungarians controlled, got round ups much earlier. And you know, in in 1944, they killed Gosh, from the from the countryside, around 440,000 Jews in about eight weeks. That was you know, the great period of spring, summer 44 where the the transports went, went to Auschwitz, non stop. They, you know, war materials were, you know, set aside for those trance transports. And of course, the Hungarians were assiduous in rounding up the Jews. They were There's a long history of anti semitism, co evil in both senses with with the Germans that were German allies. And even before the Germans occupied Hungary, there were pilgrims and the deportations happened under the impetus that the mass deportations happen more on the the impetus of the Germans when the Germans took over in March 1944, they occupied Hungary because Hungary was their armies had been beaten badly. And they were looking to sue for peace. And the Germans weren't having that. I'm sorry, I forgot the question.

Anne Marie Cannon:

I don't know. But I was with you the whole way. Okay. Oh, I asked you if dad ended up in Auschwitz. And you said he,

Jason Sommer:

he didn't. He was he was interned in, there's something called the labor battalions, which were ways for chiefly the Jews, politically unreliable to be pressed into service. And they were quite, quite brutal situations. My father was in several camps, slave labor camps, labor camps, and ended up in a place outside of Budapest called chapel, which was a major industrial complex, he escaped, because because he thought, you know, just by the treatment they were getting, he thought that it was not going to end well. And my father had had a tough childhood in a small village outside of Wilcox, and he, he often said, you know, that the lack of calories affected me less than a lot of other people there because I was used to lack calories, you know. And so he he escaped with a friend of his and went on the run. So he missed the deportations, not by not by a lot from that chapel Island, which is just outside of Budapest, there were there were deportations. I can't remember the exact date but he got out ahead of them hit out. He was supposed to have a hiding place, but it fell through. And the friend with whom he escaped got, you know, was hidden. And he was just on the run. And hid out as a Gentile just, you know, had a very omnivorous the Holocaust experience. And so many close calls. It's, it's kind of silly that we're both still, you know, we're both here. You know, but but it was. Yeah, it was an experience that was labor camp, rather than death camp, which was very different, but depended on who was in charge of very locally. If you had a guard who was very anti semitic, and cared more about harming Jews than getting the labor done, you're in trouble. And escapes were dealt with by execution.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Your dad was how old when the war broke out.

Jason Sommer:

He was in his late teens. 919 or so? Turns were you you know, the war 39 Yeah. You're not 19 or so.

Anne Marie Cannon:

i Yeah, a lot of things led up to it, though. It started earlier for the Jews, right. So that's the other thing I'm thinking about this other person that I interviewed about her grandfather, I can't remember his name. There was something that she talked about was that her grandfather, he did a lot of he was on the run the whole thing, but he was a young man, and he was strong. And so he was able to be used as labor and a lot of times that saved his skin, he did end up in Auschwitz, but he survived but I thought that was interesting when you're talking about your dad and his strength and he was already used to living on few calories like you put it.

Jason Sommer:

He was also he had been apprenticed quite early 14, I think or 13 or 14 to a bike mechanic and he could weld well, and he also spoke several languages, which saved him, you know, lots of difficulties but made the Russians tremendously interested in him. So when they essentially saved his life, they also a little bit later on, decided he needed to serve with him. It was interesting to to pass through that landscape with him where he had, you know, criss crossed as as a soldier for those those months in the in the Russian army and we had to cross the border at one point and our papers were not in order and we were stuck between Poland and Slovakia. The fellow that was driving us could not go across We couldn't get further we had fine transport there. And it was very awkward. And I saw for the first time at that moment, the extent of the fear he had of not just the social breakdown he was in a way he'd spoken about when anything everything came apart there was opportunity for him to escape you know, to keep on the run, but when the soldiers at the border you know, said these are the rules and you will not go further I I never experienced before the my father's almost dissolution into interfere here were soldiers who were not letting, and there was a terrible trauma was revisited. I think he had snuck over borders, he was afraid of it, it was it was shattering for me. You know, I was used to him being afraid sometimes. And certainly, through my childhood, I remember waking up, unable to sleep and, you know, the night was busy sometimes in my house. And, and also the, the anger that would burst from him. You know, he seemed to be even when I didn't understand quite what it was, he seemed marked in some way scarred. And the trip allowed me to view that at certain points fairly closely, in ways that I hadn't before. An issue trip, it shook me even as, you know, I was middle aged men. And still there was something very deep that got stirred in me, in response to what was stirred in him.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Wow, that's really profound. Why is this history important?

Jason Sommer:

Well, you know, we're, we're, we're a day away from, you know, Holocaust Remembrance Day. And, and, though, I don't believe telling the story prevents everything, or most things, keeping these stories alive. Especially I think, you know, this will sound like justifying writing the book that I wrote, but especially to show how it impacts relations. And, and that, it, it, it's carried for generations, it's, it needs to be remembered, not because it's, you know, remote in history, but because it, it ripples on and you want some of the ripples to be cautionary to people, be careful of your democracy, be careful of of, you know, the whisper of racist, because it soon gets large, when it's allowed to whisper on. And we're in the midst of, you know, all that kind of, kind of thing here. And I guess I wanted to make some contribution to that, I tend to be skeptical about what it does, I hope it does something telling the story, I kind of think of the the stories as a kind of net, you know, everyone who has them should tell him, because they'll catch us before we fall through to the abyss, maybe, maybe,

Anne Marie Cannon:

maybe, maybe,

Jason Sommer:

I was interested in, in you talking about the, the language of the book, which I took, I took some care with, you know, I write poems, poems are as much about that getting it right in language and in a concentrated space. And I hope, the language of the telling. Compensation is not the right word, but allows a different experience that's not just of horror, you know, or, or horror or recounted, but, you know, my father made something of a life, you know, that they, they tried to take it away, the Nazis, and he made something good out of it. Even in the telling of the experience, I wanted to make something good, even in the writing itself, to get closer to the emotion of things. But also to show what language needs to be able to do. I'm always trying to do that. What it needs to be able to carry in a way that's itself memorable.

Anne Marie Cannon:

When you talk about your childhood, and, you know, the different levels of awareness, your friend who you're friends with, and then he found out he was at that age, and he found out they were Jewish, and you know what happened in that relationship? The way that you describe it, I mean, I've, I don't know how to put this but there was almost as if I wasn't reading a book, but I was there. And that's what I'm trying to say about the way that that you write is that I could feel the different layers of what was going on. And it was enlightening, you know, in that way, I guess is what I'm trying to say. Well, that's,

Jason Sommer:

that's nice. It's lovely to hear the the incident that you're talking about the young man, my childhood buddy knew I was Jewish, but he hadn't gathered from his parents what that meant. And, you know, we did this calculus where he found out that Jesus was Jewish. It wasn't the first thing he found out. Jesus, he went to Catholic school, and I went to yeshiva. So I had my, you know, my own take on, on things. But since Jesus was Jewish, we figured as kids will, as young children will, that at some point along the way, his family must have been Jewish, since they're Catholic now. And since this was Jewish, there was some sort of conversion experience. Now, my take on things was that he brought that home to the family. And they were not they were not altogether pleased with it. A little known fact is that West Side Story is, is was originally set between Jews and Irish. And you know that my story I was raised in the Bronx, the area of conflict in my neighborhood was in a, you know, working class neighborhood, there were immigrants of all kinds, but it was the the Irish had been there first. And we're concerned to keep keep their turf. So there was a fair amount of friction, and some in some anti semitism in the including some violence, that really upset my father. He didn't think it was coming again. But he was distressed to find it in America, for which he, he had so much hope, about which he had so much hope and got so much from them from the country.

Anne Marie Cannon:

book comes out in March 1. Yes. Where can we find your book when it comes out?

Jason Sommer:

Well, you know, your local bookstore, I hope and, and ordering through your local bookstore, mine here is left bank books, but it will be widely available everywhere. Charles Bridge, imagined books from Charles Bridge, get gets sold? It'll be on the, you know, the major outlets online is, as well, I,

Anne Marie Cannon:

I your plug is for the indie bookstores. It is for

Jason Sommer:

the indie bookstores, because God Where would we be without them? I mean, in our local spaces and and what happens to local spaces? So yes, I did plug my

Anne Marie Cannon:

local bookstore, if there was one thing that you would want my listeners to remember about this history, what are to know about this history? What would it be?

Jason Sommer:

I would want readers to take away I think the I don't know that just the grainy particulars of of the history, that that history needs to be sunk into to really be understood that very few people know really mean that awareness of the Holocaust itself has been declining, according to studies. But the idea that the Hungarians were, on this side of were allied with the Germans right now or BOD, the premier of Hungary is busy erasing the history. And, and I don't think history repeats itself Exactly. But you need to sift it carefully to find out what does get repeated and you know, what the dictators playbook is and I have my my readers is to take a general sense of attentiveness to what can happen any, almost anywhere, but particularly, you know, to guard against those hatreds and to see also to understand how history impacts the personal. You can't. I mean, we don't deal with each other through history always. But there's that background. I don't want it to drown out the personal but I, I think as a background in the history of the idea of history as as ascertainable truth, or that delta situation where you eliminate what errors you can to get as close to the truth as you can, even if that truth is uncomfortable, just it needs air and light. And, you know, I hope my book lends a little air and light to the history but but to the impact on the persons and about something about fathers and sons I think will will resonate with everybody who is if is a father or a son or is around Don't don't need to exclude it's I don't I don't know whether that's a good enough answer for that. But the takeaway from the book,

Anne Marie Cannon:

there's no right answer. It's just what you think. And that's it. Like I said early in the interview, that it's a book from your perspective. But it's a book about your father. It's a personal take on what it was to be his son. What the stories were, there's a lot of levels to the book. And it's like I said, It's beautifully written. So is there anything I didn't ask you that you wanted to share with my audience?

Jason Sommer:

No, I guess I just emphasize that, that it's so much about a father and a son. Against the backdrop of, of history. It isn't really a history of the Hungarian Holocaust, though, that that enters into it. And I guess, a history of what it is to live with story, so many people do. Anybody who's had parents who've had it as, as you have parents who've had a harder time than you to live authentically, with and against that deeply disturbing experience that may impact on on a family life and how I think my book in the end shows that you, you can with effort, get over that. Get through it, which is I don't know the message of hope in the book.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Well, yeah, I think the way to get over it is to go through it and to really look at it. My mother, when when we were younger, she was like that is in the past, because she had a very thorough French accent. And she wouldn't talk about it. And then I don't know what broke open in her. Eventually, she did start talking about it. And she got backlash from her brother about talking about it. So there's all those things, and we were in place called Laroche, sir Yan, which is where they ended up in the refugee camp in France when they left Belgium. And I was interviewing her in front of a patisserie were when she was still a patisserie in 2012. And, you know, I was interviewing her. And then this woman walked by, and my mother got really quiet. And I'm like, she stopped in mid sentence. And I saw that, you know, fear in her face discomfort. And it was that moment where she's like, Oh, that woman is, you know, I didn't want to upset her by talking about the war. And so, in, you know, even getting my mother to talk about it. And to do this was like pulling teeth at times. But I kept telling her mom, and she passed away in 2017. Oh, sorry. I'm sorry that she passed before I was able to complete this documentary, which she eventually got on board with. But, um, you know, I told her, I kept saying, Mom, your people, your generation, she was eight, when the war broke out, I said, are dying out. And we need to know the story. You need to tell me the story. I need to know the story so that we can you know, as you said, is it a cautionary table tale, maybe. But it's also about the different levels of humaneness and how we survive. And I mean, there's just so many things when you think about your father and how he survived and the fact that his survival made it possible for you to be here talking to me today. I always marvel at that with anybody is that fact that all that it took for us to be here today in all those people's lives? And what they have to deal with and how they survived? I mean, it's and I think your book is it does all that it does all this.

Jason Sommer:

Thanks, again, that it's extraordinary to think about the, the narrow moments that that our progenitors pass through that allow us to be it's extraordinary, really extraordinary. How, you know, a little move left or right. And, you know, I wouldn't be here or in right, in my current version. Anyhow. Yeah. I always put in mind when when we traveled to his home village, we actually found somebody who knew his family. His father and mother. Very Oban had a perfectly pleasant conversation with this guy. And then we walked away and I realized that the man had there was an exchange of information, including the fact he'd remembered my father's brothers and his brothers smile, and asked about him and my father said he, he died. He was killed by the Germans and and, you know, it was but walking away. I thought the man was another ethnic he was a Ukrainian Indian speaker rousse Ruthenian. You know, that was another ethnic fragment that ranged against the Jews. And my father was one of, I think, two Jewish families in in that little village. And I wondered what the man, it seemed like, a kind of pretense was he? Why would he be surprised and as he did express surprise that that smile had died when so many had died, and he must have seen people carted off, because from that area, they were, you know, the Jews were ethnically cleansed. And I, I wondered at my father's acceptance of that social moment, it was just as your mother didn't want to disturb the person passing by. My father was much more interested in in the connection and pleasantries, then he was in, cutting through that, to find out what this I wanted to know what this men knew. But I was not going to take the lead, lead there. And I learned something about my, my grandfather, and I had to be contented with that.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Yeah, there's a lot of nuance, there's a lot of there's a lot to unpack. And I'm glad that you're telling this story. I think it's important in the way that you're telling it. It's, it's lovely. It's our it's, it's, it's a lullaby into horror in a way, but also with the constant understanding of survival, because we know that you're here, we know that your dad survived. Well, I'm in where can we find you? Do you have a website or anything like that?

Jason Sommer:

I do. It's just my name is Jason summer.com. Yeah, the book is available for pre order to

Anne Marie Cannon:

well, and then the other thing I want to say is that I'm going to talk to my library about getting the book and and maybe doing a book club. I would like to say to my listeners, that that's always an option is to let your library know about the book. Ask them to get it in. That's something I just recently learned you could do.

Jason Sommer:

Well, thank you so much for this.

Anne Marie Cannon:

Thank you. I really enjoy talking to you. There you have it, Jason summer and shrills bridge, be sure to check out our episode notes to find out more about Jason and his new memoir. Also, you can preorder the book from preferably your local indie bookstore or wherever you buy your books. Also, don't forget you can suggest your library that they carry the book as well. Thanks for joining us today. Have a great week.