First Book Signing is Sold-Out Event

Martin Small, the subject of the new book, Remember Us: From my shtetl through the Holocaust, appeared at his synagogue in Boulder Thursday night, June 19, 2008 for a book signing along with writer Vic Shayne. This event was scheduled to be a little gathering for a book signing, but with the great organization of Rabbi Marc Soloway and his staff at synagogue Bonai Shalom, there was not one book left unsold within a couple of hours.

Vic Shayne spoke about the process of writing this book as it was told to him by Holocaust survivor, 91-year-old Martin Small, resident of Broomfield, CO. Shayne said that although Martin Small’s life is filled with painful memories, it would be even more painful not to remember, and he referred to Mr. Small as a hero whose book is no less than the story of a hero’s journey.

Shayne also elaborated on Mr. Small’s unusual ability to remember details, names, places and events that live in his memory from more than seven decades in the past. Some of these memories, said the writer, came to Mr. Small in the middle of the night, embedded in dreams and nightmares, adding to the pain and tears that went into this book.

Speaking from the audience, Shael Siegel, who, with his wife Myrna, traveled twice to Mr. Small’s hometown of Maitchet, Poland, agreed with Vic Shayne’s assessment of Mr. Small’s uncanny memory. Mr. Siegel relayed how Mr. Small remembered every street and landmark in his hometown of Maitchet well enough to draw a detailed map for the Siegels that turned out to be not only accurate and useful, but also more detailed than the city officials were able to provide.

Myrna and Shael Siegel’s trip to Maitchet was a bittersweet journey. Mrs. Siegel was able to visit the site of her (Boretsky) family’s flour mills and neighborhood as well as the burial site of more than 3,600 Jews (including members of her and Martin Small’s family) who were murdered by their Polish neighbors in July 1942 when the Nazis invaded the Belarus shtetl. Pictured (right) is a photograph of a monument transcribed in Russian and Hebrew mourning the massacre. It remains at the edge of the forest in Maitchet, the site of the mass murder. This photograph, provided by Myrna Siegel, appears in Martin Small’s memoirs along with other depictions of Maitchet.

Holocaust Survivor Realizes his Dying Wish to See His Life Story in Print

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Photo to the left: Writer Vic Shayne with Holocaust Survivor Martin Small (right)

Holocaust survivor realizes dying wish to see his life story in print

Martin Small, a 91-year-old resident of Broomfield, CO, is a man who has lost everything in the most literal sense, yet now, the one thing he has looked forward to the most was to see his life story in print before passing away.

Born Mordechai Schmulevicz in 1916, Small’s family, numbering eighty-four people, were murdered in his home town of in Molchad, Poland, in 1942. Only he and two cousins escaped the mass murder of more than three thousand five hundred Jewish residents by their Polish neighbors within a month of when the Nazis took over Belarus.

“My mother, father, two little sisters and all my aunts and uncles were buried alive in a grave that is now marked with a memorial plaque at the edge of the forest. Unless you know where to look,” Small says, “you wouldn’t find it. Yet, this is the only reminder that there was a thriving Jewish population in Molchad since the Middle Ages.”

Small, who speaks ten languages, escaped the massacre when he was taken away on a forced-labor caravan that tore him from his hometown forever. A year later he ended up in one of the worst of the Nazi concentration camps, a place called Mauthausen, in Austria.

“I survived the pogrom that took the lives of everyone I knew, and I survived the death camps where I saw American military officers tortured to death in the cruelest ways, and I witnessed the gassing, torture, slavery and destruction of my fellow human beings. When I was rescued by the American Army in 1944, I weighed no more than 75 pounds and was left for dead. Yet my book, written with the help of Vic Shayne, does not dwell on the horrors, but rather the memories. I want people to understand that I come from a loving family and a rich culture. My book is not about the gruesome details of the Holocaust, but about who I am and who I come from. It is a lasting tribute to my family and friends.”

Martin Small’s book is called Remember Us: From my shtetl through the Holocaust, and has been lauded by Nobel Peace Prize recipient and best selling author of Night, Elie Wiesel.

“I think Elie Wiesel said it brilliantly when he wrote that the purpose of telling you my experience is not so that you will understand, but so that you know you can never understand,” Small said. “What happened was unbelievable even to me, and I survived to bear witness. My book is for the millions whose voices were silenced as the result of a mad hatred. The world should know how much they are all missed.”

In the past three months, Martin Small was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. “At that point,” says writer Vic Shayne, “we were racing against the clock in the hopes of delivering a finished book for Martin to hold in his hands. Somehow we managed to do this. For all that Martin has gone through, this achievement is priceless.”

Remember Us, Martin Small’s story as told to writer Vic Shayne, is available through bookstores and amazon.com.