IN MEMORIAM by Marta Merajver-Kurlat

The czarina

The Czarina

No one knows how he returned to his native Russia after having spent months in an enemy prison camp during the Russo-Japanese war that ended in 1905. When asked about it, he would look away and fall silent. Eventually, the questions stopped. He had made his point through the same dissuasive technique that would stand him in good stead for the rest of his life.

A tall, imposing, handsome dark man, Moshe Murachver became a furrier as his father and grandfather before. He found inexpressible pleasure in caressing the soft lifeless skin of leopards, mink, Siberian foxes, and Karakul lambs. Otter and skunk he despised. Makeshifts for the mob, he called them.

His choice of a wife followed a similar pattern. The matchmaker insisted that he marry someone whose station in life was not above his. Yet Moshe had set eyes on the youngest daughter of a lady-in-waiting to the Tsarina. As the matchmaker bluntly refused to approach the Chasevoi-Master family, he managed to interest the mother, a widowed Baroness, in his unmatched wraps. Several calls on his new client led to his meeting the daughters, all three of them desirous of being allowed to wear his creations. The Baroness yielded to their pleas, but Moshe surprised her by saying that such furs were not meant for young girls, and that he, for one, would not contribute to make them look ridiculous for the sake of a sale. Such a statement threw them off their balance. Since when did a merchant dictate to the nobility, even if the Iron Cross for valor glinted on his lapel? The shadow of Rasputin hovered ominously in the heavy atmosphere of the room.

Moshe’s intense gaze on young Sophie didn’t go unnoticed. The girl returned it under thick, black eyelashes. The mother ruminated. That her family ranked among the aristocracy was a joke of fate, stemming from a long-forgotten incident in which a Chasevoi had saved the late Tsar’s life and been rewarded with a title. An ordinary reward in those times, one might think, except for the fact that the Chasevois, like Moshe, were Jews. Few seemed to remember their origin, and those few preferred to pretend ignorance. They had been taught to abide by the Royal Family’s whims.

Yet guilt gnawed at the Baroness. When money ran short to pay the Cossacks, their leaders would tell them, “Go get your pay from the Jews!” Ever more often the pogroms butchered the Jews’ quarters. The Chasevoi-Masters never experienced such violence, but the Baroness bled for her less fortunate brothers and sisters in faith, while the thought that the winds could change gave her no respite. Thus Moshe found a totally unexpected ally.

The story goes that she approached him before he had the chance to devise a suitable plan. The Baroness seems to have given her consent to a wedding Moshe had not yet dared to mention on one condition only: he must emigrate with the bride’s entire family. Where to? His choice. Four women in the care of an ex-soldier who would now have to fight a different kind of battle.

In the map of his mind, Moshe foresaw new, crueler strives in Europe. After a simple ceremony conducted by a disapproving rabbi, they took ship to South America, leaving behind a halo of mystery that would never be dispelled.

I never met my great-grandmother the Baroness, whom my father said I take after, but I certainly enjoyed the affection and wisdom of Moshe Murachver, my grandfather, until his last day on earth and beyond.

Marta Merajver-Kurlat writes fiction and non-fiction. Check out her website and Amazon page to take a look at her vast production. Learn more at http://www.martamerajver.com.ar/marta/
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123 thoughts on “IN MEMORIAM by Marta Merajver-Kurlat

  1. Kenneth Weene

    How fitting that this post should be put up on the anniversary of Kristallnacht. I am in awe of people like Moshe, who were prepared to take on the greatest challenges imaginable.

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Ken, I guess in those times survival was a matter of life and death all the time for men like my grandpa. Thank you for remembering the anniversary of Kristallnacht. I hadn’t paid attention to the date until you mentioned it.

      Reply
  2. Delinda

    I love the stories of how people came to make the decision to leave all that was familiar and travel to the Americas. These are stories of courage.

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Delinda, all that was familiar would eventually have led to an untimely death. Moshe’s life was threatened by the pogroms, and his wife’s family would have succumbed during the 1917 revolution. The Americas were comparatively safe in those times. Thank you for reading this piece!

      Reply
  3. Martha Love

    Marta, it is wonderful that you have this narrative of your family. Thank you for sharing it with all of us! Our family stories are so important to who we are and are often lost in the intensity of the migrations. Sophie was assuredly wise as her name implies (Sophia Goddess of Wisdom) and you have this wisdom passed to you. One only needs to read your books, as I have, to know this profound wisdom is also yours.

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Martha, thank you for thinking me wise :) You’re among the very few people here who’ve read my books, and I appreciate that more than you can imagine. I couldn’t agree with you more about the importance of our family histories. Knowing about our ancestors helps us understand many of our personality traits in the combination between nature and nurture.

      Reply
  4. Harmlessjoyce (Joyce Elferdink)

    Dearest Marta!

    These few words were a ray of light breaking into the cloud of mystery that seems to have surrounded the life of your grandfather. It makes me want to know more….so when will the whole story to be told (or at least a fictional rendition of what might have been)?

    May your inspired writing reach the eyes of all who read to learn and to live more authentic lives!

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      My dear Joyce, there’s so much more to tell without having to fill in the gaps with fiction! Some day, perhaps, when the daily struggle is over, I will indulge in telling the whole story :)
      I’m sorry to say that most people seem to prefer much lighter reading than my books can offer, and I don’t blame them. Still, I will continue to write what I must, regardless. There will always be a few who make it worthwhile.

      Reply
  5. Bryan Murphy

    A fascinating story, beautifully told. Let us not forget that even in Argentina, the haters have struck at Jewish targets. Like Joyce, I look forward to more of the family history.

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Bryan, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. As I said to Joyce, this part of the family history will come to light when the time is right. Attacks on Jewish targets in Argentina started during World War II because in those days the regime was pro-Nazi, and they went on intermittently until the bombs in the Israeli Embassy and AMIA took hundreds of lives, including many that were not Jews. But in Moshe’s time antisemitism was indeed mild and verbal, because lots of migrants from all over Europe settled down in my country. My grandmother Sophie used to sit on the sidewalk and exchange recipes with her Sicilian neighbor, a true miracle, since neither spoke a word of Spanish, let alone the language of the other.

      Reply
  6. Mark

    It’s an intriguing story that covers a lot of different aspects of those times. I like the idea of a man knowing he loves a particular woman and not allowing anyone or anything–even her own biases–to stand in his way. I’m intrigued to know more. You have an engaging voice and a nice flow to your prose–it’s almost poetic. Thank you for sharing :).

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Thank you, Mark! It’s flattering that you and some other kind friends here are asking for more. It never crossed my mind to write about my family history in full, although stranger events than this have shaped us. Perhaps I should reconsider :)

      Reply
  7. Patricia Yeager

    Dearest Marta, Just as i always suspected, you come from Royalty. :>). What an incredible story. Thanks for sharing. I’m always a bit surprised, however delighted, with everything you write.

    As always paraise and love for you,
    Pat

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      My dear sister, my connection to Royalty is a good joke :) Surprises don’t end here; I still have a lot more rabbits inside my hat! I guess you know that already. To many I seem dull and uninteresting. The eye of the beholder…

      Reply
      1. Patricia Yeager

        That is because they may have not taken the time to look inside. Isn’t it amazing how so many only see the surface of a fine jewel, and you are just that. I see you as a fine purple Amethyst. xo

        Reply
  8. Larry

    What an interesting story, Marta! I like reading these kind of backstories and can relate as my family is from the same part of the world.
    So, do you have a title?

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Larry, I’d love to know under what circumstances your family left the old country. And no, I don’t have a title -thank God for that- for two reasons: titles were handed down from father to elder son, although daughters were called “Duchess”, etc. out of courtesy, and Argentina abolished slavery and titles of nobility in 1813, much earlier than Moshe’s arrival in these lands.
      Thank you for stopping by!

      Reply
  9. Mary Clark

    This is a beautiful story. I liked the turns of phrase, such as “joke of fate” and “shadow of Rasputin.” The Baroness was one of those women who change lives and in that way, make history.

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Indeed, Mary. My great-grandmother seems to have been a remarkable woman, according to what her grandsons and their wives have passed on to my generation. Such stamina is found in many women nowadays, but obviously the times -at least in the West- are less inimical to women than they were then.
      Thank you for taking an interest in the story, and for pointing to the turns of phrase you liked. Since English isn’t my mother tongue, you’re paying me a great compliment :)

      Reply
  10. Don Ford

    When we hear an excerpt of a story, it causes us to want more or to walk away. Marta, you did a great job of causing me to want to hang around for more of this tale. I had a mother (Native American) who had no place to remove herself to when trouble beckoned. She was ashamed and fearful of her lineage during the 60s, when Native Americans were terribly looked down upon, and jobs were not readily offered to them whose skin was the wrong color. Cheers, Don

    P.S. I’m proud of my mother’s contributions in her life, and my heritage handed down to me. Many call me Greywolf.

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Don, what happened to Native Americans is a real shame. Our history is somewhat different: at a certain moment of the Conquest, the Spaniards mingled with our original peoples and fathered what we call “criollos”, the foundations of this Nation. Yet when we became independent from Spain, the criollos in power between 1878 and 1885 wiped out the aboriginal population through bloody campaigns that still shame us.
      I love your being called Greywolf and Where the Eagles Fly, and am delighted that you’d like to hear more of this story. Thank you for dropping by!

      Reply
  11. Taylor Fulks

    I knew you were “blue blooded” sister! It’s evident in your gracious, yet, self assured presence. What a beautiful and rich history to reminisce as well as pull from, in your writing. You bring such honor to your ancestors, allowing their lives to live once again, through you…

    Bravo, my sister.

    ~Taylor

    Reply
  12. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

    My dear Taylor, of course I’m not “blue blooded”! A title bestowed on a Jew that happened to be at the right place at the right time means nothing and, in any case, Argentina abolished both slavery and titles of nobility in 1813. But I mentioned it because it is part of our family history, and because all of Moshe’s descendants, including my father and myself, met our spouses in rather unusual circumstances. I guess this is one part of the story that Joyce and Bryan would like to hear of :)
    I cherish my ancestors’ memory; they not only live through me, but in me, and this seemed the right place to disclose a small part of my family history. Your having read it means a lot to me!

    Reply
  13. Kathleen Anderson

    Dear Marta, since the first time I listened to an interview you gave regarding Just Toss the Ashes, I’ve been so impressed with everything you do. As I read this piece I was trying to figure out what part of history this was from, and come to find out it was about your ancestors. Hopefully you won’t wait too long before you write more about this fascinating part of your history. Very enjoyable.

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Dear Kat, I’m humbled and immensely grateful for your words. “Just Toss the Ashes” was my first novel (2005) and the key to my concerns. It seems I will have to venture into a totally different territory after all the encouragement I’m receiving from your comment and others.

      Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Yves, your kind of writing helps many people find their way. This little story is about a way one man found. Some will say God inspired him, others will say he had vision. Moshe was a profoundly religious man who founded a number of “shuls” (small synagogues) in the new country.

      Reply
  14. Patricia Salamone

    Wonderful history Marta. I think there have been struggles in every ethnic society and religion. The difference is that many of us do not get to hear what it was really like, and are not able to write about it
    so well. It is sad to think of everything our ancestors had to endure in order to carve out a better life on a distant shore. The strife and loneliness must have seemed endless, but they were willing to endure for a
    freedom of life itself. Coming from such a aristocratic family gives one a sense of pride.

    Well Done Marta
    Pat

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Dear Patricia, I couldn’t agree more about what you say about our ancestors. Still, I’d say that their sense of family protected them from loneliness, and that it gave them the necessary strength to strive and thrive. Aristocratic ancestry means nothing; one cannot and shouldn’t wear such feathers but earn one’s own through hard work and commitment to people and good causes.
      Thank you for your friendship and wise words!

      Reply
  15. Sarah Mallery

    Very, very interesting, Marta, and very well expressed! I was taken by the fact that Moshe wouldn’t bend to pressure like most people. Very strong person, obviously.
    Much thanks for sharing. That’s what I love about your work—you introduce the reader to new worlds, new dimensions.
    Best,
    Sarah

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Thank you for reading and commenting, dear Sarah! Moshe was quite a character. I knew him as a sweet, loving grandpa, but there seems to have been a darker side to him that I never glimpsed until, many years after his death, my husband happened to run into a guy whose father had done business with him. This guy said that when he saw “The Godfather,” Moshe’s imposing figure and middle-aged Vito Corleone overlapped in his mind. My husband must have stared hard at him, for he hurried to explain that he wasn’t implying a connection with the Mafia but a personality type. When told about this exchange, I concluded that my grandpa wore velvet gloves or iron gauntlets depending on who he was dealing with.

      Reply
  16. Laurie Smith

    A great story of family, the resilience of the human spirit and the need to ‘move on’ in life. You’ve done it once again Marta. An epic tale lies hidden here.
    Cheers
    Laurie.

    Reply
  17. Liz

    Marta, you are a gem. The rich history that envelops you and your lineage is a glue to the past that we still need to draw from and learn from.
    When I read renditions of times such as this, I have a surge of emotions. They range from anger to awe. I would like to see the past brought to the forefront without the sugar coating many people prefer.
    There are good comments here as well. I never leave your pages without either a lump or a song in my heart. Today it is a lump. the painful tearing at a life for the sake of egos exasperates me.
    Thank you for sharing Marta! Hugs, as always, to you.

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Liz, the present is not less cruel than the past. Perhaps the only difference is that we -not all, but many- turn a blind eye on the egos that destroy entire countries or vast sectors of their population. Also, in the past cruelty was not hypocritical but showed its ugly face openly, whereas now political discourse is sugar-coated with such words as “social inclusion”, “the greater good”, and the like. I think I prefer the cruelty of the past, for at least people knew what lay in store for them and some had a chance to take their lives in their own hands.
      The great comments here, including yours, come from committed people who do not read lightly, all of them wonderful writers willing to encourage a colleague through their personal perspectives. I’m proud to have such friends :)
      Hugs back to you!

      Reply
      1. Liz

        My husband and I hold discussions about the current way to fight (and hunt). If the powers that be decide to blast an area because of…. they can narrow down the impact zone, but there are still innocents included in the attack. We are told there are less casualties this way. Are there?

        So yes, Marta, in days gone by, we did know what was coming. It was man fighting man, albeit because another man dictated it to be so.

        I was also thinking that at times, people prefer to have a toned downed version of history and current events.

        I know that the support you receive is because you are a straight shooter, and don’t fluff things to lessen a blow. I like and respect you for this. The people who comment also know that if you debate, it is not an attack, but an honest conversation. Good to see. Just please don’t drop the guillotine blade ;)
        Hugs!

        Reply
        1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

          Liz, I so much appreciate the possibility of conversing! I’ve loved your thoughts and integrity since we first got acquainted. About dropping the guillotine blade… I prefer to kill with words, and only when I see gross injury done to innocent people who cannot defend themselves :)

          Reply
  18. Jim Sellers

    A story of survival, courage, intrigue, class intolerance, flight, persecution, survival and – of course – love. Why is this not a 1200 page novel Marta? I love this story and I’m happy to live in a time when we can say things like this happened at a point in history. Thank you Marta, thank you for sharing. Now please start writing the full version of this story.
    Jim

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Oh Jim, you’ve left me speechless! Thank you for believing that I have it in me to write the Murachver saga.
      So far I’ve tackled only distasteful aspects of contemporary life; those that people would prefer to ignore.
      But with such encouragement as I’m getting here, I might give it a try after I finish my WIP and another novel scheduled after that.

      Reply
  19. Mark

    It’s an intriguing story that covers a lot of different aspects of those times. I like the idea of a man knowing he loves a particular woman and not allowing anyone or anything–even her own biases–to stand in his way. I’m intrigued to know more. You have an engaging voice and a nice flow to your prose–it’s almost poetic. Thank you for sharing :) .

    Reply
  20. Shari Jo LeKane-Yentumi

    Dear Marta,Thank you for sharing such an intriguing tale that explains only a fraction of your complex character and mystique. Your writing is brilliant and I need to know more about the fate of the brave Baroness from whom you glean so much courage and wisdom. The story is only the beginning of what must be a whirlwind adventure on the South American Continent with you and your family. I would love to read the book and understand the evolution that brought you here today.As a child of immigrants and a parent of first generation children in the United States, I am constantly reminded of the choices made by our ancestors (and ourselves) in order to arrive and maintain a stabilizing environment that we so boldly attempt to secure in this world, knowing that there are never any guarantees, and always surviving on free will, determination to succeed and faith.

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Dear Shari, thank you for your support and your insightful thoughts about migration. There is no book, but perhaps so many voices asking about the rest of the story may prompt one.
      Paradoxically, it’s more difficult to find balance in our “civilized” world than it was in the barbaric world some of our ancestors fled. Our plights are not less scary, and human life is still expendable -more expendable, I dare say. I applaud your honesty about the lack of guarantees as well as the weapons you propose: free will, determination to succeed, and faith.

      Reply
  21. Murray Alfredson

    Dear Marta

    That makes you yet another Jew in my circles. I had not known. And reading the story the clear etymological connection between you and your grandfather, its import dawned on me. A both wise fortunate decision to migrate, either to Argentina or even Australia in those days. Had he survived the pogroms, the wake of the October revolution would very likely have destroyed them. And beyond that, Stalin’s purges and the Nazi invasion. Some survived those times, and I went to school with some of them. In fact, a good half of the children I attended were Jewish; most were either from Europe themselves or had parents who managed to get out in the 1930s. A most remarkable story. I think there is important history to be written there, as well as perhaps a family saga after the manner of Thomas mann’s Buddenbrooks.

    with metta

    Murray

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Dear Murray,
      The difference between my grandfather’s last name and mine is due to the ignorance of local immigration officers, who were unable to decipher his Russian papers. Anyway, they did their best -no translators at hand in those days- and the family never tried to recover the original name. You’re so right about what would have befallen them had they stayed in Europe.
      Thank you for reading this little story and for adding valuable information to better frame it. I very much appreciate your suggestion of following into Mann’s footsteps, but Mann was one of a kind, while I’m a very modest narrator :)

      Reply
  22. patgarcia

    Hi,
    This is a beautiful story of courage and the resilience of the human spirit. I see that part of you which displays your perseverance, and it was a joy to read it. One man and four women moving to a country that unknown to them. Surprisingly, they got out just in time.

    The foresight of your grandfather protected his family from what was to come in Europe. I am glad that he had the heart to love one woman enough to do the impossible by desiring to marry her and that he also had the courage to move out and do the impossible and leave the country he was born in.

    This story makes me think of Abraham. He was 75 years old when he was told to leave his country and his family and go to an unknown country. He obeyed. Your ancestors did the same.

    Shalom,
    Patti

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Patti, your take on the story -doing the impossible and obeying a command- enriches my own thoughts on the odds my grandfather stood against. You have the rare ability of opening a new window on “finished” stories as well as on your own works in progress.
      It’s curious that you remembered the story of Abraham, for such was the name of Moshe’s and Sophie’s first-born son. It got me thinking that perhaps my grandfather, who knew his Torah perfectly well, entertained similar thoughts as he set out for the unknown.
      Shalom to you, my dear sister!

      Reply
  23. Vivek

    I didn’t expect the ending Princess Marta. Very Interesting. I’m sure your children and grandchildren too are charting brave new territory as we speak.

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Vivek, I’m so glad you liked it. I have one son only, who is indeed charting new territory with the same fierce, independent spirit his great-grandfather instilled into our blood, and no prospects of grandchildren.

      Reply
  24. Scott Hastie

    Hi Marta,

    I’m back again! What a fascinating fragment of a story – poignant and beautifully smoothly written, with a delicate economy… It must be lovely and often, I imagine, quite inspiring and empowering to have such rich and alluring antecedents… With Best Wishes Scott http://www.scotthastie.com

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Hi Scott,
      I’m so glad you liked it. You’re right that such antecedents are rich and alluring, but sometimes they weigh heavily on us, as we fear not to live up to what our ancestors would have expected from us. Family mandates are hard to shun, you know…
      Thank you for your lovely comment!

      Reply
  25. Shardanand Tiwary

    Marta, my friend!

    Sometimes when we see a movie and it runs so smoothly that when it ends, we feel, we were so deeply involved in watching the movie as we were reading a thoughtful nice novel.

    In the same manner, sometimes when we start to read something, it happens automatically that we start visualizing the things as shot by shot and scene by scene; in continuity as like as a movie.

    In my view, this is the perfect narrative style for representing our emotional memories. And certainly your style of narration is impressive.

    With love,
    ~Shardanand.

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Vivek, I’m so glad you liked it. I have one son only, who is indeed charting new territory with the same fierce, independent spirit his great-grandfather instilled into our blood, and no prospects of grandchildren.

      Reply
    2. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Dear Shardanand, I’m honored that you commented on this story. You are one of the wisest, fairest scholars I’ve ever met, and I set great value on your opinion. If only some movie maker saw the cinematic aspect of my writing as you do! But no fear that’s going to happen; not without the right connections :)
      With much love to you!
      Marta

      Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Thank you, Raani. It’s not half as fun as your delightful posts, but am more than happy that it sounds interesting. Hadn’t thought about mysterious, though. You’ve given me yet another angle to consider!

      Reply
  26. Larry Blumen

    Marta,

    I wasn’t sure at first what I was reading—it had the cadence of great history, but it pulled me in like a romantic narrative. Learning, at the end, that it is a personal memoir, handed down through your own family, hit me with the force of a fine short story!

    My paternal grandfather emigrated to the U.S. from Russia to escape the Czar’s military conscription. I’m sure that there is a story there, but unfortunately nothing has come down within my family.

    You are fortunate that you have this memory and you preserve it like a priceless heirloom. Thanks for a great read!

    Larry Blumen

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Larry, thank you for visiting this blog. Your family history and mine seem to have a lot in common. It’s a pity yours wasn’t preserved, but perhaps a little digging might help retrieve the facts?
      My fatal flaw is that I cannot escape the literary slant, so my few “personal history” pieces, memoirs or present, tend to mislead the reader. Yet if you liked it, the final purpose was achieved :)

      Reply
  27. Ana Rubio

    Marta,
    EXCELLENT written!!! It seemed as I was living the story myself. I really enjoyed it. Your grandfather ‘s story is a story of courage, self-control and confidence. Thanks for sharing it!!!

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Thank you, Ana! My grandfather would have been really pleased to hear such praise, although he’d probably have dismissed it by saying, “Nah, nah” in your presence to enjoy it privately when you were gone :)

      Reply
  28. Linnea Larsen

    Marta,
    Your storytelling talent never ceases to amaze me. It’s brilliant and masterful. I second Scott Hastie’s words: “poignant and beautifully smoothly written, with a delicate economy…” I could never tire of reading your work.

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Linnea, in a very selfish mood, I’m greatly relieved that you could never tire of reading my work, since you have not only read what was published but also what is in the making :)
      Thank you for your constant encouragement and the generosity with which you give of your time.

      Reply
  29. James Roth

    Marta,

    This is a beautiful piece of writing, inspiring and educational at the same time. I admire that you take on difficult issues and write with a profound perspective.

    This story strikes close to home for me. Just yesterday my wife and I listened to a tape of a 1990 interview of Susan’s mother about a book she had written “Witnesses to the Holocaust”. It is an oral history of holocaust survivors, liberators, resistance fighters and righteous others.

    You express the same courage and humanity that my mother-in-law was able to express in her writing and her life. You and your writing are an inspiration to me and many others.

    Well done.

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      James, I cannot hold a candle to your mother-in-law. She would have been a match to my mother, who wrote against the Nazis under a pro-Nazi government during the war and was first threatened and then arrested.
      Letting us into the work of Susan’s mother is a wonderful, enlightening sequel to my story; the “after” that reminds us that historical events are multifaceted.
      I very much value your friendship and support, and feel bound to say that your own work in the field of human rights is the kind of inspiration needed in today’s world.

      Reply
  30. Elaine Cougler

    Hi Marta
    I love this story! I love the voice, the tone, and the eventual revelation that this amazing man is your grandfather. Don’t you just love those heart-warming and surprising details from the past. With research for The Loyalist’s Wife and the sequel, The Loyalist’s Luck (currently my WIP), I have learned a lot about my own history here in Canada. It feels like someone is reaching forward from times gone past and teasing me with just a little taste of where I come from. How exciting and how grounding it all is.
    Thank you for this glimpse, Marta. I’m looking forward to having you on my blog soon!

    Reply
  31. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

    Dear Elaine,
    I’m so happy you liked the story. You are a superb writer, and digging into our own history is fascinating archaeological work, although in my case there’s no digging to be done, as this story and others are kept alive in my family’s conversations when we hold large gatherings.
    I will be honored to be your guest whenever the time is right for you :)

    Reply
  32. Brian

    I enjoyed this, not only because it is well written and provocative, but also because it is amazing to know people have such rich histories and ‘familial narratives’ to draw from. I agree with the statement that the revelation near the end was such a complete and total shock! Once I read that, I went back to read the whole piece over once or twice!

    Reply
  33. Laura Bailey

    Dear Marta,
    So beautifully written to conjure up an age that is long gone but brought fresh to life with your wonderful prose! Best wishes to you, Laura

    Reply
  34. Hanifa Danyal

    A fascinating insight of your family history Marta. Thank you for directing me to this, I really enjoyed the read. All the best.

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      … as I was moved when I read your story. In different ways, you and Moshe lived through tragedy, survived, and drew strength from it. Such lessons in courage should ring loud in the ears of the indifferent, to be found elsewhere, for no one here belongs in that herd.
      Thank you for visiting, my friend!

      Reply
  35. Jim Dittmer

    A marvelous saga! It would make a captivating film, Marta.

    Those of us who weren’t around in the first half of the 20th Century, and especially those of us from the isolationist United States, tend to forget how volatile those years were and how often Jews were the scapegoats for everything that went wrong.

    The scattering of the Diaspora had the unintended positive consequence of bringing- to so many other countries- the talents, abilities, and culture of the Jewish peoples. Their contributions to music, science, writing, even comedy and entertainment have made my country an infinitely better place!

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Jim, your country played a key role in freeing my people from the Nazi horror, and then the three Americas offered shelter and protection to survivors. This is how many ended up in your country and others in mine, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Mexico…

      I agree about the film. Any movie maker interested? :)

      Reply
  36. Alejandra Delfin

    What a wonderful story, Marta. This is, just, a beautiful article. Thank you very much for sharing it!
    Reading your posts is always a pleasure. You are a great writer!
    I’m looking forward to reading another of your stories soon :)
    Hugs!

    Reply
  37. Jim Spencer

    Hi Marta:

    What a wonderful story. I always had a suspicion you were more than just special to me. I think what is really wonderful that the story remains alive and that more than one person gets to share this. This is so much better than a boring history book.

    One can define courage is so many unique ways and I see it everyday in the actions of so many. It is always good to read a piece like this. Stay well and live a better life today than yesterday..

    Jim

    Reply
  38. PJ

    Absolutely gorgeous Marta – I concur most heartily with the statements above – the narrative simply as you began it is so poignantly bursting with drama (as reality often is before being transcribed to fiction) and begging to be expanded upon in greater length. You paint these characters briefly yet with such deft luminosity – I add my voice to these others clamoring the read the subsequent novel. The migration narrative imbued with a love interest that crosses conventional social strata – what a wonderful story – and all the more intriguing for having been born in truth. And I think this idea, this notion of seeking something better, of wanting more for their children, of carving out a new life on foreign soil…the hardships, the adjustments, the pioneering aspect – a new adventure – these are themes which resonate with so many, do you not think? And I cannot think of a more brilliant writer to undertake such a one than yourself. Always such a pleasure to read your exquisite work.

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      PJ, let’s say I’m a potter while you are a diamond cutter. I concur that these themes would resonate with many. Yet what is written here is the romantic side of the story, the seed from which my family bloomed. A book would lay bare many somber aspects, and the question is, is it worth sacrificing the revered memory of the departed on the altar of literature? I need to ponder over this, or else turn the true subsequent events into fiction. Perhaps the answer will come as an insight, for my conscious mind is unable to make a decision.

      Reply
  39. Sarah Dorn

    Loved this excerpt Marta!! PLEASE consider writing it into a book! I love your writing style and the way you build character suspense, thank you so much for sharing this absolute gem with us!

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Sarah, you’re too kind! So many of you have been encouraging me to develop this short piece into a book that I’m beginning to think I should do it, after I’ve finished what I have in hand. See how interesting this is: sometimes we write books that have no readers. Here there are readers for an unwritten book :)

      Reply
  40. Karenina Díaz Menchaca

    Querida Marta: Sorprendente la historia, justo ahora leo a Natsume Soseki y hay mucha referencia histórica del conflicto Japón-Rusia, en “Soy un Gato”. Me gusta el color de tus personajes, pero caray, me hubiera gustado saber más. Seguro que tienes más cositas que decirnos, hazlo, por favor. No todos tenemos ese linaje, que más allá del orgullo familiar, representa un contenido de época que -dicho a través de la experiencia- puede ser aún más enriquecedor. Te mando mi admiración y un abrazo desde México.

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Thank you, Penelope! You’re so right that our family history explains much of our nature. In my case, much was hidden on my mother’s side of the family. Eventually, the secrets came to light, and I understood many things that had disturbed me for years on end.

      Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      I’m sorry too, but my father and uncles talked so much about her that I feel I know her. But life offers compensations: my son shared quality time with his great-grandmother on his father’s side, another remarkable woman in a completely different style, though.
      Thank you for visiting the blog!

      Reply
  41. Penelope Silvers

    Thank you for sharing your story of your ancestors with us, Marta. I really wish I had been told more stories of my own family background. The true stories help us to learn more about who we are in the present. Fascinating piece!

    Reply
  42. Pim Wiersinga

    Dear Marta, in re praise to your person I have preciously little to add, if anything, and I agree with most of the above… Your ancestor Moshe was a fairy-tale hero, enmeshed in a world that was grim rather than Grimm; and under your pen both these layers stand out beautifully – to the extent that you even succeed in combining glamour with humour… a blend rarely found in the best of prose. Don’t write a noveIl on Moshe, if I may put a tongue in my cheek. Write a novel while remembering Moshe.

    Reply
  43. Pim Wiersinga

    Moshe´s story resonates with many brave men and women who endured the terrors of Word War II. In my friend´s forebears, a jewish man in Java who fled the nazi´s rescued a mother with small children (family-in-law) from the internation camps into the safety of Australia. By train. Very risky, but they had no choice. At some point he and company were about to be searched by Japanese officials. This jewish man stood straight, raised his arm in the way Hirohito´s subjects had been taught to appreciate in their ´friends´ and roared, ´Heil Hitler!´ Needless to say, the Japanese demurely made amends for troubling the travellers.

    Reply
  44. Dutch Rhudy

    Hi Marta
    Very lovely. Rich in History, Interesting, and Touching.
    Your grandfather show great courage.
    Excellent Writing!!!
    Looks like Royalty flows in your veins, Marta.
    I’m sure there is much much more to your amazing story.
    Mazel Tov c on the story, and Mazel Tov g in getting the rest on paper.

    All the best to you
    Dutch Rhudy

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Not knowing how to say “thank you” in Yiddish (shame on me), let me say in Russian: спасибо
      I am delighted at your visit. There’s a lot of good material here if you’d care to drop by at any time.
      It’s not royalty that flows in my veins, but royalties :)))
      A mercenary writer…

      Reply
  45. Susan Scott

    As you say Marta sometimes courage is the only option. Thank you for the reminder of Kristallnacht . How blessed you are to have Moshe as your grandfather! The responses/comments and your replies were so interesting as well. Thank you for this slice of life.

    Reply
  46. Neil Newton

    Marta, this is a beautifully told family story and I love the writing and the images it conjures in the mind. Not a wasted word here. This is history at its best, not the recalling of dates and events, but the impact human activities have upon individuals and their lives. Stories recalled this way give us a greater understanding of lives lived before ours, lives which today seem almost alien. The writer’s job is to transport people to different places (imagined or real) and to give readers experiences they would otherwise not have. With this excerpt, Marta you have certainly done that and more – you have given insight into the minds of people we no longer share the world with.

    Reply
  47. Mahnaz

    Dear Marta,

    The lucidity you applied to this story is a very good characteristic of your writing which I like so much. I hope that you will publish more fascinating works in a near future. Wish you the brightest days and the happiest moments.

    Best,
    Mahnaz

    Reply
  48. Linda hales

    Yours is a fascinating read Marta and no less than what I would expect from an accomplished writer such as yourself. Like others have suggested above, a mini series or a great movie should evolve from your offering and I for one hope that it will be done. The best of screenwriters should be beating down your door.

    Reply
    1. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

      Dear Linda, if only good wishes could materialize! But it doesn’t work that way. I’ve often been told that my writing is cinematic, yet to get to the screen what we need are connections, which I definitely lack. So no screenwriter will ever know of my existence, let alone beat down my door :)

      Reply
  49. Belén

    Genial! Marta, I loved it. I suspected it was about your family from the last name, but how simply and wonderfully y deliver the twist. Very happy to have read and discovered a bit more about your past.
    Me encanto!
    Abrazo enorme,

    Belu

    Reply
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