An epic and uplifting World War II family history of resistance that spans Europe, telling of two happy families uprooted by war, their incredible suffering under Hitler and Stalin, and the near-miraculous survival stories of the author's mother and father.
In Two Roads Home beloved British journalist Daniel Finkelstein tells the extraordinary story of the years before his mother met his father—years of war and trials they barely survived.
Daniel Finkelstein's grandfather was a German Jewish intellectual leader who tolled an early warning of the impending Holocaust and became an archivist of Nazi crimes. He relocated his family to safety in Amsterdam, where they knew Anne Frank. But in those years safety was an illusion: Anne Frank famously went into hiding and Daniel's mother Mirjam, also still a child, was sent to Bergen-Belsen with her mother and sisters.
Finkelstein's father, Ludwik, grew up in a prosperous Jewish family in Poland where his father Dolu was a patriotic hero of the Great War. But when Stalin took control, Dolu was deported to Siberia and Ludwik and his mother were sentenced to forced labor in Kazahkstan, starved and housed in a stable in freezing conditions.
Two Roads Home is a page-turning account of the narrow escapes, forged passports, ingenuity, bravery, and luck that allowed Mirjam and Ludwik to survive the war and find one another. Using their personal testimony, letters sent to Siberia, a diary written in Belsen, and years of historical research, Daniel Finkelstein tells what happened to two families, one the victim of the Nazis, the other of the Soviets. A tale of deliverance and triumph over evil, Two Roads Home will profoundly touch all who read it.
“Powerful and beautifully written. . . . Once the second world war breaks out the book works like a thriller, as both families race against the clock to escape certain death. But there are bigger themes running through Finkelstein’s writing, elevating [Two Roads Home] to the status of a modern classic – and just as deserving of acclaim as Philippe Sands’s East West Street or Edmund de Waal’s The Hare With Amber Eyes, both of which used inventive ways to examine the Holocaust afresh. . . . Brilliant.” —The Observer
“Beautiful...This book took possession of me. I read it quickly, but then couldn’t stop thinking or talking about the Finkelstein and Wiener families...With grace, Finkelstein tells this story not as a tragedy but as a tale of love, hope and resilience." —Gerard DeGroot, The Times
“Profoundly moving . . . To read Finkelstein, one of our great thinkers and writers . . . is an unforgettable experience. This is a vital addition to the literature of two catastrophes of the 20th century. With great clarity and wisdom he demonstrates what evil politics can do. There is not a word of padding. The prose, distilled into what is both true and interesting, can sometimes be disarmingly simple.” —Spectator
“A masterpiece. . . . At once an epic tale on the scale of War and Peace, an intimate portrait of his family and its traumas and a book of compelling urgency, with a vital political message at its heart. . . . This book will be read for generations as a classic, a work of truth and history but with the emotional power of the most searing novel.” —The Jewish Chronicle
“Finkelstein movingly weaves together the personal and the historical, including many lesser known events, to create this compelling, propulsive and eye-opening account of World War II. Two Roads Home is deeply researched, and chillingly relevant.” —Judy Batalion, author of The Light of Days
“Danny Finkelstein has written an elegant, moving account of the history of one family, and in doing so shines light on the history of the 20th century. If you want to understand Hitler and Stalin, read this book about people whose lives were upended by both of them.” —Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gulag: A History
“Heart wrenching and miraculous. . . . Epic, moving and important, the grim history of twentieth century Europe encapsulated in one extraordinary, ordinary family.”—Robert Harris, author of Fatherland
“An extraordinary story—both horrifying and inspiring—that grips you completely from start to finish.” —Gyles Brandreth, author of #1 Sunday Times bestseller Elizabeth: An Intimate Portrait
“This truly remarkable book brings vividly home the horrors perpetrated against one family by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, serving as an indictment of their crimes against millions. Diligently researched, beautifully written and on occasion unbearably moving, this is a powerful moral work about political extremism and the importance of bearing witness, but at the heart of it is love.” —Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny