A Story of Hope for Our Times: Traveler’s Holocaust Book Published

A Story of Hope for Our Times: Traveler’s Holocaust Book Published

This is the story of a story – one we should never forget. It’s especially poignant, and hopeful, in these times.

In , author (and MIR traveler) relates the saga of her in-laws, who met in a Polish forest outside the Treblinka death camp. It was August 1943, and Sam had just escaped in a prisoner uprising in which fewer than a hundred survived. Esther was already in hiding, helped by a Polish family who agreed to shelter Sam as well.

Ester Goldberg / Sam Goldberg. Photo credit: Goldberg Family Archive

Esther Goldberg / Sam Goldberg
Photo credit: Goldberg Family Archive

The book tells their story, following them as they dig a pit in the forest to hide in when the weather was warm enough and as they huddle inside a fake haystack in the barn of the Polish Stys family in the winter months. It describes how they finally arrive in New York Harbor, bereft of any family save each other, four years later.

 also tells the story of how Karen Treiger tracked down the remaining children of that Polish family, met them, thanked them, and lobbied for them to be recognized as Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum. They risked the death sentence that came with harboring Jews, saving the lives of Sam and Esther – and consequently the lives of their child Shlomo, who became Karen’s husband, and their four grown children.

Goldberg family photos. Photo credit: Goldberg Family Archive

Goldberg family photos
Photo credit: Goldberg Family Archive

And that is where MIR comes in – specifically our Director of Sales, Joanna Millick. Born in Warsaw, Joanna developed a fierce sympathy for the Polish Jews who suffered in Nazi camps and in the ghettos organized in Nazi-occupied Poland during WWII. Though 90% of Polish Jews were murdered during the war, she felt obliged to make sure they and their 1,000 years of rich culture in Poland are never forgotten.

Eugeniusz pointing to the pit. Photo credit: Grzegorz Maleszewski

Eugeniusz Stys points to the pit where Sam and Esther hid
Photo credit: Grzegorz Maleszewski

Volunteering for Seattle’s , Joanna met Karen, who thought of her when she received a box of old correspondence, written in Polish, between Sam and Esther and the Stys family. Joanna offered to translate them for her, and went one step further. She tracked down the son of the family, Eugeniusz Stys, who had been nine years old during the war. She and Karen were able to befriend him and his family via Skype.

The group outside Helena Stys’s house. Photo credit: Grzegorz Maleszewski

Karen and her family outside Helena Stys’s house
Photo credit: Grzegorz Maleszewski

Joanna helped design a private journey for Karen and her family to visit the little towns the Goldberg family came from, as well as the Stys family in Poland, and to stand at the edge of the pit where Shlomo’s mother and father had crouched through the war years. You can read more about their journey on MIR’s blog, and on .

Or, better yet, buy the book from . Published in October 2018, after three years of research and travel, , was the topic of a with Karen on Seattle’s King 5 News ().

Joanna met the Stys family on a later trip to Poland. She says,

“This story enriched my life on many levels. I bonded with both Karen’s family and the Stys family, creating strong friendships for life. It also made me question my own choices and my values: would I find the courage to risk my life and the life of my family to save someone I barely knew?”

MIR is very proud of Karen’s accomplishment, and the fact that we were privileged to play a small part in her journey is an added extra for us. The miracle of Esther and Sam’s survival, the courage of the Stys family, and the tenacity with which Karen followed their trail are timeless and inspiring.

Mazel tov, Karen!

Goldberg family photo. Photo credit: Goldberg Family Archive

The Goldberg family – Sam and Ester’s descendants – now includes 10 grandchildren and a great-grandson
Photo credit: Goldberg Family Archive

Karen Treiger, author of , will be speaking at these venues on the east and west coast in the coming months:

November 27, 2018
Congregation Rodef Shalom
Lunch Together
7 West 83rd Street, New York

November 28, 2018
Young Israel of Ft. Lee , NJ
Time: TBA
1610 Parker Ave, Ft. Lee

March 19, 2019
Jewish Community Library
Co-sponsored by JFCS Holocaust Center
Time TBD
1834 Ellis Street, San Francisco

January 20, 2019
Limmud Seattle
Bellevue College
3000 Landerhold Circle SE
Registration required

February 13, 2019
Third Place Books – Seward Park
5041 Wilson Avenue South, Seattle

For more information about and Karen Treiger, visit her website: . To connect with Karen, you can email her at [email protected]


Family Heritage Trips with MIR

Researching family names and dates can lead to an irresistible longing to see the places that shaped the family stories.  MIR has a dedicated team of Private Journey Specialistswho can work with on-the-ground staff in any of our destinations to handcraft itineraries that let travelers connect with their family heritage in whatever way they wish.

For more information, call MIR at 111-111-1111 or email [email protected].


You might also be interested in:


Top photo: Goldberg family photo. Photo credit: Goldberg Family Archive • Treblinka sign. Photo credit: Yad Vashem • My Soul is Filled With Joy: A Holocaust Story by author (and MIR traveler) Karen Treiger

PUBLISHED: November 1, 2018

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