Monday, June 02, 2014

A Stone for Benjamin Tour w/ Giveaway

Virtual Book Tour Dates: 6/2/14 – 6/30/14
Genres: Non-Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs

Since childhood, author Fiona Gold Kroll has been drawn to a photograph of her great-uncle, Benjamin Albaum, a Jewish man who disappeared from Paris at the beginning of World War II. A Stone for Benjamin is the compelling story of Fiona’s quest to discover his fate. Chasing Holocaust shadows across Europe and beyond, Fiona begins her powerful journey searching for clues with nothing more than a misspelled name, old photographs and family stories. Determined to uncover the truth about Benjamin’s life and death and France’s betrayal of its Jewish population, Fiona pieces together her great-uncle’s life, elevating Benjamin’s legacy from a number tattooed on his arm at Auschwitz to a more complete memory of the vibrant man he was.

See the book trailer on Youtube

As I sit on the comfortable sofa in the familiar warmth of my parents’ living room, I look forward to hearing my mother repeat the same stories I’ve heard since I was a child. I cup both hands around the mug while I sip my hot tea, and Mom and Dad sit down across from me.
“Where do you want to begin?” she asks. Pen poised, I say, “Let’s start with all the names of Grandma’s family: parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, anyone else you can think of, including those related by marriage, even if you’re not one hundred percent sure.”
She nods.
“Then I want to hear all the stories again, as Grandma told them to you.”
As my mother speaks, I write down every detail and try to connect all of my relatives. It’s a daunting task, because some of my cousins intermarried. Creating a family tree should be interesting, I chuckle to myself. We talk about the many dynamics of my grandmother’s family before the war: ninety-eight Albums in one town, constantly in and out of one another’s houses.
“When was the last time Grandma heard from Benjamin?” I ask.
Mom looks thoughtful as she sips her tea. “Early in the war, I think he was trying to get papers for the family to escape to England, but suddenly his letters stopped coming.”
Convinced that the Nazis murdered the entire family during the Holocaust, my mother tells me that she’s nervous of “digging too deep” for fear of what we may discover. “I don’t think I want to know the details,” she says.
 “I understand what you’re saying, Mom, but Benjamin disappeared without a trace, and we don’t know what happened to him,” I say. “We do know that he married and had at least one child. What if the child survived?”
My mother is quiet for a moment. “Yes, I suppose you’re right,” she finally says. “I’ll help you in any way that I can, but I’ll leave the digging and the letter writing to you.”
My father, who has been listening mostly silently through all this, gets up to make more tea while Mom continues talking. It takes her almost an hour to retell the old stories. She gives me as much information as she can, including my grandmother’s photographs. Some have handwritten messages in Yiddish and are addressed on the back to my grandmother from her sisters and brother Yosef in Poland, and there are two from Benjamin in Paris. Though my mother speaks Yiddish, she can’t read or write it. I make a mental note to find someone who can translate the words on the back of Benjamin’s Paris photographs for me.
I drive home carefully; the rain and sleet have turned into wet snow. Curiosity takes over and I cannot resist the urge to begin some research. I walk into my office, having almost forgotten what precipitated the afternoon’s events, and my tidy desk takes me by surprise. I turn on my computer and stare at my home page, wondering where to begin. I have only a few names and some photographs. I know so little about the plight of the French Jews during World War II; I have no addresses for the family in Paris. All I know about the location of my grandmother’s family in Poland is that they lived near Radom. I begin running searches on Google, and I bookmark, download and print every piece of information that seems relevant, translating the French documents as best I can.
The Central Database for Shoah Victims’ Names at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem has recently gone online and I check out the website. I click on the database and run a search for Benjamin Album — last known address Paris — but the search is unsuccessful. I run a second search, changing the spelling to Albaum. I pull myself up in my chair, lean forward and hold my breath for a few seconds when two documents appear on the screen: one page of testimony from an individual and the other from a list of deportations from France. A slight shiver runs up my back when I open the two pages and carefully read each line.

About the Author:

Fiona Gold Kroll was born in London, England where she attended university before immigrating to Toronto in the 1960s. Fiona worked as a fashion buyer until she married and had two children. After the death of her husband, she pursued a career in corporate research. In her spare time, Fiona began investigating her family tree.
Fiona wrote a summary about her great-uncle, which was published in Un train parmi tant d’autres, a French memoir about Auschwitz-destined Convoy 6. Fiona later published a short store, “The butterfly Effect,” in 2013. A Stone for Benjamin is her first book.
Happily remarried, Fiona continues to write in Toronto, Ontario.

Connect With The Author:
Facebook -  A Stone for Benjamin
Facebook – Fiona Gold Kroll (author)
Kirkus Reviews
Linkedin: Fiona Gold Kroll
Pinterest:  Fiona Gold Kroll

Enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card! The giveaway will run the length of the tour. Open internationally. 

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