Rising from their Eastern European Jewish immigrant roots, my family left me a legacy of tikkun olam, repairing the world. My mother, Estelle Malloy, was born in Boston, where her grandfather, Simon Swig, became the first Jew in the Massachusetts legislature. Her grandfather, David Malloy, ended up as a tailor in the British colony of Bermuda where we are the only Jewish family to have lived on the island for four generations. Estelle met Aaron Levine as students at Radcliffe/Harvard University, fell in love, and married during World War II.
As a US military intelligence officer, Aaron was assigned to interrogate Nazi Nazi prisoners of war. My father’s letters to Estelle expressed the horrors he saw in the death camps, including the discovery of the underground camp at Nordhausen. My mother’s love letters to him kept him sane. Their letters are included in this book and the originals are archived in the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati where my father was Chief Financial Officer.
Click below to hear Aaron Levine’s interview about his World War II experiences.
I write about returned to the States from Bermuda so that we children could grow up in the largely Jewish community of Great Neck, New York. From there, my studies took me to Radcliffe, Harvard Divinity School, and Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. I share my work for Jewish agencies, my post-Holocaust programs, and passion for cultural diversity.
“The Liberator’s Daughter skillfully weaves together the story of Deborah Levine’s GI father at the end of WW II, her family’s Jewish roots in Bermuda of all places, and a shocking treasure trove of Holocaust reminiscences from a total stranger whose story becomes intimately hers. In a fascinating, multifaceted memoir unlike any that you’ll ever read, Levine takes us deep into her family’s unusual history to show how it shaped her own growth as a truly inspiring interfaith, social justice activist. Compelling, uplifting, and unique.”
~ Lev Raphael, author of My Germany: A Jewish Writer Returns to the World His Parents Escaped
“Many liberators such as Levine’s father kept their experience largely secret. So the publication of excerpts from his letters is a new important resource for Holocaust education and research… The Liberator’s Daughter also exposes the reader to a whole variety of relevant issues such as immigration, Jewish family life, lack of options facing Jewish survivors at the end of the Nazi era, Holocaust denial, terrorism in our day, and Holocaust remembrance.”
~ John T. Pawlikokwski, OSM, Ph. D
Former Director, Catholic-Jewish studies Program/ Catholic Theological Union
Founding member of the US Holocaust Memorial Council
“This is a moving book, beautifully written, with rich insights in translating a witness to evil into a passion for doing good. Deborah Levine takes us back to her family roots in Poland and the interplay between those who lived in the old country and those who set out for a new life, starting in Bermuda. The central character is that of her father, whose presence looms large even as she describes her own life’s journey to right the wrongs her father experienced during WWII. Baseless hatred and evil can only be combatted by erasing ignorance of the other. Deborah’s passion for bringing disparate communities together in dialogue finds expression in a number of her chosen career paths. Her father’s words, and those of others, appear throughout the book as she chronicles the past and lays the groundwork for her passion and her work.”
~ Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, Congregation Shirat HaYam, Nantucket, Formerly: World Union for Progressive Judaism
“Deborah is a fabulous writer! She writes with passion and the reader can only walk away, after finishing her work, knowing more, caring more and believing more. The Liberator’s Daughter is a tale that beautifully matches its name as it intertwines her life with her father’s. It gives everything it promises.”
~ Cathryn Cohen, Former Executive Director of the Foundation for Monterey County (CA) Free Libraries
The Liberator’s Daughter is many things at once. It is a family memoir filled with love, courage, strong familial and cultural pride, sibling rivalry, and parental strength. The Liberator’s Daughter is enbued with the hopes and aspirations of parents for their children and those of their propinquity. It is a history lesson that dares look into the dark heart of man unflinchingly and yet still maintains hope for its transition from “stone to flesh”. The Liberator’s Daughter observes and participates- even leads, the emergence of women’s awareness of their strength and essential place in this emerging world of ours. Ms. Levine writes with power and sensitivity, with a panoramic view of her and her family’s generations and their places in history; yet, she does so with a sense of modesty that somehow mutes their powerful trumpet-blast impact in favor of their stronger desire to encourage each of us that we all should aspire to be who God- however you know God- has called us to be. This book changed me. Read it and it will change you, too, for the better.
~ Minister William H. Hicks, author of Discipleship and Discipline
- Diaspora-Immigrant Photographs
- Soldier’s Letters from World War II
- Holocaust Survivor Diaries
- Post-war Holocaust, Interfaith & Diversity chronicles
The Liberator’s Daughter
Table of Contents
Forward by The Rev. Dr. John Pawlikowski
Introduction: From the Island to the Archives
Chapter 1. The Oblivious Mermaid
Chapter 2. Old World and New Immigrants
Chapter 3. The Original Island Girl
Chapter 4. Yankee Doodle Boychik
Chapter 5. Ground Zero in Poland
Chapter 6. Teenager in Port
Chapter 7. You’re in the Army Now
Chapter 8. Burials in the Village
Chapter 9. Tsunami: Concentration Camps
Chapter 10. Damage Assessment: The German Front
Chapter 11. Aftermath: What Next?
Chapter 12. The Silent Tattoo Goes Hollywood
Chapter 13. Religion and Politics at Harvard
Chapter 14. Survival in Illinois
Chapter 15. Bombs, Denial, and David Irving in Oklahoma
Chapter 16: From Twinkle Toes to Kicking Butt
Chapter 17. Women and Social Glue
Chapter 18. From Chattanooga to Jerusalem and Off a Cliff
Chapter 19. Life, Death, & Reading
Chapter 20. Making the Local-Global Connection
Chapter 21. I’m Telling You