Law Professor’s Novel Explores His Mother’s Escape from Nazis

Reporter Grace McCauley is a first-year journalism major.

Stan Goldman was left with many questions after his mother, a Holocaust survivor, passed away. One of them being, how did she manage to get free? This quest for the truth became the focus of his novel “Left to the Mercy of a Rude Stream: The Bargain That Broke Adolf Hitler and Saved My Mother.”

“I do not seem to have escaped the small part of me forever being caught in the currents of that rude stream that nearly drowned my mother,” said Goldman, Loyola Law School ’75, where he is a professor and director of the Center for the Study of Law and Genocide.

Goldman’s reading was this year’s Fischmann Family Lecture, an annual event presented by the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts in collaboration with the Jewish Studies program. Each year the lecture centers around a topic that celebrates Jewish culture and religion.

On the balmy, clear night of Monday, Oct. 1, Roski Dining Room was venue to the first public reading of Goldman’s book. His selections were pieced together from throughout the book and focused on his relationship with his mother, Malka, who was imprisoned in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Germany. While this remained the focus of the reading, the book also delves into historical points concerning a secret meeting between Heinrich Hemmler and a German Jewish man, Norbert Masur.

Goldman explained the complex relationship he and his mother shared. As a child whenever Goldman would complain, his mother said, “Stanley, it’s better than being in Auschwitz!” While the audience erupted in laughter, Goldman went on to explain his mother’s reasoning. He said, “Regardless, it was coming from one of the few who actually knew. To me it was ancestral legend, for her it was always there – precise and unauthorable. How could I not expect it to be the every skin of her memory?”

While Goldman fondly recalled the eccentric, comedic nature of his Jewish mother, he recognized the psychological effects behind that. He said, “Survivors like my mother hardly ever received the help they needed.” Goldman also explored the effect that his mother’s trauma had on him, and second-generation survivors, in general.

A question and answer session followed, led by Michael Bazyler, professor of law at Chapman University. When Bazyler asked Goldman to elaborate on his relationship with his mother, Goldman said, “I didn’t plan on writing about my mother.” Goldman was inspired to include his mother’s story while on a trip to Israel visiting her closest friend. Initially, Goldman wanted the book to be a historical nonfiction, strictly about the secret meeting between Masur and Himmler. Instead, Goldman worked his mother’s story throughout the novel to create a balance.

Goldman closed the lecture with one final, haunting passage from his book. He recalled a recurring dream he had after his mother’s death in which they were together in her apartment. He explained that he would always hear a knock at the door but never answer it. Goldman said, “I think my writing this book was my attempt at opening the door.” The crowd, sobered by the final words, applauded.

Goldman’s book does not currently have a release date, but he hopes it will be out by the end of October.