Nancy Kohner spent two decades piecing together her familys history from the vast quantity of diaries, letters and photographs that her father brought out of Prague before the Second World War. The result is the extraordinary and touching record of a Jewish family caught up in the tumult of two world wars. Nancys grandparents and their three children find their sanctuary in the garden of the small town where they live between Prague and the German border called Podersam. There they have their happiest times at the reunion when the eldest son returns from the trenches of World War 1, when their youngest son joins them in the family linen business, and when their daughter gives birth to their first grandchild. But instability and danger are the permanent backdrop. When the Nazi Storm Troopers march into Podersam their lives will never be the same again. The daughter commits suicide while the two sons escape to England and Ireland. The last batch of letters from the grandmother make it poignantly clear that her fate is the death camp of Treblinka.
Nancy Kohner was a respected health writer. She was born in Bradford in 1950. Her father, Rudolph, was a Jewish refugee from prewar Czechoslovakia who married a local girl, Olive. My Father's Roses is the result of decades of work by Nancy reasearching family diaries and letters and piecing together her family history. Nancy died of cancer in 2006, aged 55 just as she was finishing this book. Her daughter Bridget, a historian and archivist for the Wiener Library, completed the manuscript after her mothers death and now provides the link between the past and the present. Bridget lives in London.