Vera Goodkin Publishes Holocaust Memoir
Will Lecture at MCCC March 2 at noon

1-17-06

Vera Goodkin of Lawrenceville, a Holocaust survivor and long-time educator, has just published a memoir, "In Sunshine and in Shadow, We Remember Them."

Goodkin and her parents escaped to Budapest, Hungary, after they were betrayed in their hiding place in Czechoslovakia in 1944. Their escape to Budapest led them through muddy fields late on a cold, rainy night. They ultimately survived only with the help of the famous rescuer, Raoul Wallenberg.

The book chronicles not only her parents’ lives and their experiences, but five generations of Goodkin’s mother’s family, starting with her great grandparents. “I began with the generation that was unscathed,” she said.

A long-time professor of English and French at Mercer County Community College, Goodkin and her family came to the United States when she was 16, escaping communism. “The second tragedy that befell our family was communism. The ones who were spared from murder because they were Jews now were singled out for persecution because they had been capitalists.”

Goodkin will present a lecture about her memoir on Thursday, March 2. at MCCC's Communication Building, Room 110 on the West Windsor Campus. The lecture is free and open to the public. Call 609-586-4800 ext. 3324 for further information.

Now in her 70s, Goodkin said it was time for her to write her memoirs so they would not be lost. “I wanted to celebrate and commemorate the lives of those who perished in the Holocaust,” Goodkin said of her book. “I also wanted to celebrate the rescuers, especially my family’s rescuer.”

Much of Goodkin’s family history came from her mother, who lived to be 92. “My mother is the reason for this book,” Goodkin said. “We were very close and we talked a lot.” Goodkin’s father was a physician, and her family lived a very comfortable life before the Holocaust. “My essential purpose was not only to speak about Holocaust experiences, but also to show that families like mine were part of a vibrant society. We were essentially not born to be victims."

The rescue of Goodkin’s immediate family is a gripping, dramatic story. Before she and her parents were sent separate ways during the Holocaust, they managed to live together in the attics of rescuers, who helped move them from house to house. Just ten weeks before their liberation by the Russians, the three of them were reunited by Raoul Wallenberg.

Having worked for many years as an educator with the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, Goodkin has a special interest in working with students of all ages. “I want my book to communicate with those who are the future of humanity—the young people to whom I have been speaking since 1983,” she said.

Goodkin earned her bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University, and her master’s degree in French from New York University. She earned her Ed.D. in English from Rutgers University and began teaching at Trenton Junior College in 1963, which became Mercer County Community College in 1966. She retired from college teaching in 1997.

While her book will be useful for the educational market and will be accompanied by a teacher’s handbook, it was also designed for the general public. Published by Comteq, the book may be ordered at the publisher's website.

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