Member News: The Unanswered Letter Released September 1, 2020

An untold Holocaust story 75 years after WWII award-winning investigative journalist traveled across the globe to answer a family’s 1939 cry for help.

Washington, D.C.—September 2, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of V-J Day, the official ending of World War II. Yet, there is an incredible story that has only now been uncovered by award-winning investigative journalist, Faris Cassell, in The Unanswered Letter: One Holocaust Family’s Desperate Plea for Help.

In 1939, as the Nazis increased their persecution of Vienna’s Jews, Alfred Berger mailed a desperate letter to an American stranger who happened to share his last name. Alfred and his wife had found escape routes for their daughters. But now their money, connections, and hopes were nearly exhausted. Alfred begged the American recipient of the letter, “You are surely informed about the situation of all Jews in Central Europe. . . . By pure chance I got your address. . . . My daughter and her husband will go . . . to America. . . . Help us to follow our children. . . . It is our last and only hope. . . .”

After languishing in a California attic for over sixty years, Alfred’s letter came by chance into Cassell’s possession: “I felt like I held a life in my hands.” Questions flew off the page at her. Did the Bergers’ desperate letter get a response? Did they escape the Nazis? Were there any living descendants? Cassell could not rest until she discovered the ending of the story.

The gripping narrative will immerse readers in the lives of the Berger family and bring them along on her journey in writing The Unanswered Letter, which led her to:
• Over a hundred original letters from the Berger family to each other as they pour out their joys, fears, hopes, and struggles while scattered across the world, fleeing persecution
• A previously unknown opportunity to assassinate Hitler—to which the Bergers were connected
• Investigative trips across the United States, Austria, the Czech Republic, Belarus, and Israel in search of living descendants and more answers
• A room in Massachusetts holding a century of family artifacts
• Firsthand accounts from people who lived alongside the Bergers and survived the Holocaust

A story that will move any reader, The Unanswered Letter is a poignant reminder that love and hope never die.

The Unanswered Letter: One Holocaust Family’s Desperate Plea for Help, by Faris Cassell is available September 1, 2020, in hardcover from Regnery History

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