Readers who like history about the World War II Resistance movement, will love “When Time Stopped,” by Ariana Neumann.
If you are a sleuth, you will enjoy the detective search. If you trace your ancestors and genealogy, you will find the connections amazing. If you like assembling puzzles, you will enjoy this read.
Who doesn’t like stories with heroes and wonderful endings? If you believe there are no coincidences, you will be amazed how this story evolves. If you relax with an exceptionally good narrator and writer, you will be delighted.
Hans Neumann was a Holocaust survivor who fled to Venezuela after the war. He lived in Caracas, becoming a very wealthy, socially connected businessman and philanthropist. His daughter, Ariana, is the author of this memoir.
Ariana did not know much about her father’s past because he never discussed it. She didn't even know he was Jewish. He believed the past needed to stay in the past. He lived in the present, the immediate.
But odd things occurred with Hans. He would have terrible nightmares, screaming in an unknown language. There was an old, faded framed picture on his desk. He had a box of memorabilia, papers and documents that Ariana found when she was young. Her questions were not answered, and the box disappeared for decades.
In 1997, Araina was touring the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague, Czechoslovakia. She had no inkling she was dramatically connected to this building. In the various rooms, the names of all those who had died at the hands of the Nazis were engraved on monuments and the walls, over 77,000 names.
She was stunned when she saw her father’s name, the question mark for the date of his death an even greater surprise because he was still alive in Caracas. When Araina called to tell her father of this astounding discovery, and ask what it meant, his answer was accompanied by a quiet chuckle, “It means I tricked them. . . I lived.”
Thus begins a story about puzzles, questions, sleuthing and discoveries. Araina became a tenacious researcher of archives in various Holocaust museums and memorials. She used Facebook and email to find more answers. Over several years, she pieced together a quilt of letters, documents, papers and memorabilia.
As things evolved, she met relatives she had never heard mentioned. She jogged people's memories. She was able to put together a family tree and to clearly see her father as a young man living during a horrific time. Finally, her father’s puzzling behavior began to make sense. There was an explanation for the nightmares and screams. The picture on the desk was of her grandparents. She found a family she never realized she had.
“When Time Stopped” is a wonderful book about outwitting the evil of the times and surviving incredible hardships. It is about the outstanding, noble goodness of humble people who did the right thing because it was the right thing to do. This memoir restores our faith and trust in man’s basic goodness.