How Could I Not Have Known? A True Story of Strength, Courage, & Unwavering Faith

Chana Rotenberg spent a happy childhood in Antwerp with loving parents who took her and her siblings to summer vacations at the seaside in Holland and winter vacations in the Alps. She wore nice clothes, and every year on the last day of school, a photographer would come to the house to take the children's portraits while the parents stood by, beaming.

But there was an invisible curtain in their home, kept tightly closed. It hid something that was off-limits, forbidden and terrible, something that wasn't spoken of, something that was scarcely even thought about - until one day, when Chana was already a grown woman raising a family of her own in Israel, the curtain is pulled back. The secret of her Polish-born parents' war experiences is revealed, and her whole world is overturned. To see her strong, capable parents as victims is traumatic. But Chana decides to confront the monstrous facts, and in the process, she discovers that her Mama and Papa are many times greater than she ever knew.

This is the true story of Chana Rotenberg's voyage of discovery. Half as a guide and half as a visitor, she joins a trip to Poland with a group of Israeli graduate students, organized by Nefesh Yehudi. She retraces the steps of her parents' youth, revisits the scenes where they were dragged into the seventh level of Gehinnom, and relates the stories of their strength, courage, and unwavering faith. As she goes through her personal journey, she imparts to the students a recognition of what real heroism is, and what it truly means to be a Jew.


"Although she is a second-generation survivor, the author has fulfilled, through this book, the mitzvah of 'Remember what Amalek did to you… do not forget.' In addition, the book fulfills the last wishes of the martyrs, may their blood be avenged, who asked that their memory be preserved and perpetuated."

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