Broken Birds: The Story of My Momila

Image of Broken Birds, The Story of My Momila
Release Date: 
April 2, 2012
Jeanette Katzir
Reviewed by: 

“. . . informative and insightful.”

Broken Birds: The Story of My Momila examines the depth of horror that results from surviving the Holocaust (and fighting with the resistance) and the impact it contributes to a struggling family.

While it might be surmised that having the courage to survive atrocities would build character and stiffness of disposition, the trauma also infects the survivor’s personality resulting in serious emotional disfigurement, destruction of trust, and lifelong neurosis. In this case, it deprives the mother from having a constructive influence upon her children and within her marriage.

This is a powerful and vivid story of a family born into war and persecution and the fractured relationships that result. The author describes her mother’s dominant maternal instincts which become compromised by her wartime experiences and her increasingly controlling neurosis.

Jeannette Katzir and her siblings were raised by their father Nathan, who survived Nazi concentration camps and their overbearing mother (Channa), whose experiences fighting in the resistance during the Holocaust altered her personality.

Channa is so emotionally scarred by her experiences she is consumed by an obsessive-compulsive neurosis for the rest of her life. She coaches her children to distrust anyone who “is not blood,” including her husband, and to assume a negative result from all situations.

This reviewer has seen similar personality traits among Holocaust survivors. Channa is overbearing but also loving, producing opposing familial allegiances with her powerful dichotomy of a personality.

Ms. Katzir has produced an excellent memoir that is both informative and insightful. It illustrates the plight of genocide survivors and their children as they try to adapt to and assimilate within a new nation and dissimilar culture.

The author reveals the emotional catastrophe resulting from memories of abject horror and deprivation as well as their impact within a fruitless attempt to raise children. The depravity and fractured relationships that result constitute the bulk of this book.

Broken Birds: The Story of My Momila is well written, particularly for a memoir. The pacing and flow is solid, although the reader can at times feel constrained by the endless familial internal strife.

As memoirs typically lack the elegant metaphorical flavor of a novel, this book might be enhanced by the addition of maps, diagrams, and pictures. Such objects are not difficult to incorporate, even for an ebook, and result in a more comprehensive and rewarding reading experience.