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Biography & Autobiography Jewish

Called to Testify

The Big Story in My Small Life

by (author) Judith Kalman

Sutherland House
Initial publish date
May 2022
Jewish, Holocaust, Jewish, General, Personal Memoirs
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2022
    List Price

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How does a secular, non-practising Jew who has lived most of her life outside the Jewish community suddenly find herself in the front rows of a Nazi war crimes tribunal?

In 2015, the award-winning writer Judith Kalman was invited to Lüneburg to testify at the trial of Oskar Gröning, accused of facilitating 300,000 murders at Auschwitz. She appeared on behalf of a relative she had never met, a child of her father’s first marriage, who died in the camp.

Kalman not only found herself in the unaccustomed company of survivors who had built their identities and missions out of Holocaust remembrance, but grappling with profound questions of loss, guilt, and restitution. For the first time in her life, she was forced to confront her parents’ tragic past, and how it had confounded her own sense of who she wanted to be: “Broken friendships, missed expectations, difficult family relationships, and a problematic marriage were all forged in the heritage of loss.”

Called to Testify is a beautiful, thoughtful memoir about the meaning of life in the wake of traumatic events, coming to terms with your identity, and understanding the magnitude of what can never be restored.

About the author

Judith Kalman is the author of The County of Birches and a range of stories, poems, and essays. Her writing has appeared in Saturday NightDescantPrairie Fire, the anthology Celebrating Canadian Women, and the Oxford Book of Stories by Canadian Women.


Judith Kalman's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Judith Kalman’s decision to testify at Oskar Gröning’s trial makes for absorbing reading.” —Joyce Wayne, Literary Review of Canada


"Gracefully written and emotionally evocative, Called to Testify in many ways goes beyond what one might expect of the memoir genre by virtue of Kalman’s beautiful prose. Above all, Kalman’s memoir is a moving reflection on the impact of trauma and how it shapes one’s identity." —Hannah Srour-Zackon, The Canadian Jewish News