Title: A Daughter of Many Mothers
Authors: Rena Quint with Barbara Sofer
Publisher: Mazo Publishing
This was, in some ways, a difficult book to read. I went through the whole panoply of emotions: horror of her nightmare time in Bergen-Belsen; tears at the loss of her parents and siblings; sadness at the other losses she sustains, especially of her non-biological “mothers” – women who tried in vain to protect her until they could no longer protect themselves; inspiration for her courage that brought her through a nightmare worse than anyone can imagine, to create a life for herself that she now describes as “joyful.” This is Rena Quint, born Fredzia Lichtenstein, December 18, 1935 in Piotrkow, Poland.
The reader will be filled with admiration that a child victim of the Holocaust has not only survived to age 82, but has – together with her loving husband Emanuel Quint – been the progenitor of a family of 55 people – children; their spouses; grandchildren with their spouses; and great-grandchildren. What a victory over the evil of the Nazis!
Rena Quint spent many years searching for her identity. She has had many name changes over the years – Fredzia, Fannie, Frances, Froim, Freda and finally Rena, making research very difficult. She has also learned, of necessity, how to change identities. At one point, as a six-year-old girl, to survive she had to pretend to be a 10-year-old boy named Froim, so that she could work in a glass factory with her uncle and live a little longer. Yet so many memories are eclipsed by the enormity of shocking chapters that followed the early ones.
Co-author and prize-winning journalist, Barbara Sofer, who is the Israel Director of Public Relations for Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, is very well-known in Israel, especially by readers of the Jerusalem Post. Her articles are usually heart-warming stories of good things happening in Israel. Yet she was able to document the agony of Rena’s early years, help her with research and even accompany her to visits that must have been very painful, such as a meeting with Helena in 2015, who had also been in Bergen-Belsen as a child, and who remembered Rena from Sweden, where she had been recuperating from typhus and diphtheria. I admire Barbara enormously for having co-authored this book, which must have been her most difficult assignment.
There have been so many “mothers” trying to help Rena that she has lost count. The good life began for her when she was adopted by possibly her sixth “mother” Leah Globe and husband Jacob in Brooklyn. She becomes a typical American girl and suppresses all her Holocaust memories, never discussing them even with close friends. In 1958, at Sukkot, she meets her future husband Emanuel Quint, known as Manny. For him, it is love at first sight. They have been blessed with 58 years of a happy marriage and today live in Jerusalem. She is now a much-requested speaker, here and abroad, and has been a guide in Yad Vashem.
How inspirational that she now describes her life as “joyful” and bears the name “Rena” which means happiness.