Madeleine Albright's new memoir says she was never told by her parents of her Jewish roots, and 25 family members were lost in the Holocaust.
The book by the former secretary of state in the Clinton Administration, "Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948" is set to be released this week, and says that between 1942 and 1944, at least 25 members of her family were herded into a ghetto by the invading Nazis in Terezin, Czechoslovakia. None survived.
Albright, originally named Marie Jana Korbelova, left Czechoslovakia for England in 1937, when she was 2 years old, and grew up Catholic, and later Episcopalian
History shows that it wasn’t unusual for people of her generation not to probe very deeply into the past. Even if she asked questions, it seems apparent that her parents, anxious to look ahead and not back, had manufactured answers to quell any further curiosity.
For most of the world, it doesn't really matter when or what she knew. The story is a curious one, but not particularly meaningful. In this day and age, few would question whether a Jew is qualified to be America's top diplomat.
For Jews, however, it's a different story, one that deeply touches one of the most painful chapters of our history: the Holocaust .
The Holocaust continues to haunt us. Six million Jews were annihilated in the gas chambers and slave labor camps of Europe.
But more difficult to understand -- and mourn -- are the thousands of Jews, like Albright's family, who left Judaism. Whether out of fear for their safety or a desire to assimilate in a Europe less than friendly to Jews, Albright's parents were not alone in choosing to reject their Judaism.
We now know that Albright's parents fled Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939 not out of some noble political principle, but because they probably would have perished along with the rest of their families had they stayed. They needed to start new lives.
But starting new lives included depriving their children of their roots.
It took many years, but it seems as though Albright was able to come to terms with her past, in order to face her future. She owed it to herself and others to face her family legacy.