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Shortly after the end of World War II, a young patient told my father, Dr. Ernst Bornstein, that she was under the impression that stories about the gassing of women and children in Auschwitz was anti-German propaganda.

She asked my father if he was a Jew. When he responded that he was in fact a Jew, she asked if it was really true – were there really concentration camps? He recalled the scene in his memoir:

Until then she had been of the belief that reports of this nature were pure propaganda disseminated by the occupying army to damage the reputation of the Germans. So I understood that this was the opinion of democratically educated post-war youth. If this youth believed that the bloody era of the Nazis was only an invention of the propaganda, I will play my part in shattering these illusions.


Though my father already knew he wanted to write about his experiences in the war, it was that moment in his dental clinic that convinced him of the need to record his story.

He realized it was imperative, especially in a world that was all too ready to forget, that he dedicate himself to raising awareness about what had happened to his family.

As someone who witnessed horrors in no fewer than seven concentration camps, my father also wanted to publicly address the question of how it was possible that large masses of people, numbering in the millions, could be led to their extermination without a fight.

And as a medical doctor, he sought to explain to scientists the psyche and social profile of survivors so that they could receive appropriate help to rebuild their shattered lives.

After my father was liberated in the wake of the infamous Death March, he stayed in Germany where he documented the oral histories of other survivors while working for YIVO. He then went to medical school and graduated with a double doctoral degree (M.D./D.D.S) in medicine and dentistry/oral surgery.

Afterward, despite being busy rebuilding his life and setting up his dental practice, he did not delay in penning his own memoir spanning the years 1939-1945. He dedicated himself to writing while his memories were visceral and raw.

His memoir was eventually published in 1967 in its German original as Die Lange Nacht (The Long Night). As one of the first post-World War II memoirs available to the German public, it was covered in major international publications including The Times Literary Supplement in London.

Ironically, even though the original German edition of The Long Night had a proud place in the middle of our family’s living room, neither my siblings nor I knew much about its content while we were growing up. It took the birth of my youngest daughter, Nina, twenty-five years later to galvanize me to translate it.

At the time, I felt as if a flame were rising within me. I had a great urge to disseminate my father’s experiences in the concentration camps he survived and the Nazi barbarism he and the Jewish people suffered simply because they were Jews. But as my motivation to translate the book grew, I knew I would need a tremendous amount of inner strength to address my father’s past.

My translation of the work soon turned into a labor of love that lasted three years. David Arnold, MBE, who used to coordinate the annual Yom HaShoah program in our community, assisted me with the translation, as he is particularly sensitive to the subject.

He gave me the discipline to address the subject at times when I didn’t feel like it or found it hard to go on. Of course, that brought its own guilt. After all, how could I find this task difficult as I sat in the comfort of my home in the UK when, in absolute contrast, my father had lived through such horrors? How dare I not bear it?

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Noemie Lopian lives in Manchester, England. She is actively involved in Holocaust education and commemoration and is available for speaking engagements. “The Long Night” is available online and in local Jewish bookstores everywhere. It can be ordered from