Title: Gated Grief: The Daughter of a GI Concentration Camp Liberator Discovers a Legacy of Trauma
Author: Leila Levinson
Genre: Creative Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, Autobiography, History
Reviewer: Weymouth Symmes
ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 1934980552
After the death of her father, a World War II Army doctor, Leila Levinson discovered a concealed box of shocking photos he had taken of victims of a Nazi slave-labor camp. "A foot emerged from the chaos of countless bodies, a leg. Grotesquely frozen faces. My fingers turned the photo over: Nordhausen, Germany, April 12, 1945."
Intuiting that the photos might be clues to her father’s cold silence and detachment, his intolerance of grief or sadness, she became a detective, finding and interviewing dozens of World War II veterans who also liberated Nazi concentration camps. Veteran after veteran demonstrated ongoing pain and shock. “My mind froze.” “I was never the same.”
Still traumatized by the unimaginable horrors they found, most of the veterans have spoken very little of what they witnessed, not even to their spouses or, as decades passed, to their adult children and grandchildren. “No words could convey the horror.”
As many liberators opened up to Levinson, their recalling long suppressed memories created closure for them as well as for her. Gated Grief weaves their eyewitness accounts with Levinson’s own story to portray the trauma that has followed the veterans and shaped their children’s emotional lives. Gated Grief, which includes dozens of her father’s and other veterans’ never-before-seen photos, concludes with the author’s journeying to Nordhausen in a necessary attempt to reconcile her own life.