I have been obsessed with Holocaust stories and memoirs for many years. Then I branched out to descendants of Holocaust survivors and accounts of researching family history. Do Not Disclose: A Memoir of Family Secrets Lost and Found by Leora Krygier fulfilled both genres. I devoured it in two days.
Krygier recounts two mysteries in one narrative. She filched a file of notes, strewn on her parents’ floor, amidst her mother purging papers. One of the notes said “do not share.” The author also purchased a postcard from a British WWII veteran that stated “do not disclose.” The similar wording on both documents caught her attention and her inquiry.
I had an inkling as to what the purloined file from her parents would expose, but had to read the entire book for the full revelation. The majority of the story is her account of unearthing every last clue in an attempt to identify the post card writer, A. T. Maynard. I was impressed with how she scoured every little lead, despite numerous dead ends. Much of the research was conducted in 2003, the infancy of online information. It was nostalgic to read and reminisce, especially when the author expressed joy in purchasing a laptop so she could research on the go.
During her sleuthing, Krygier avoided reading the family file. While painful to admit, the papers revealed stains and scars that polluted her memories and how she viewed her parents. One particularly heart-wrenching scene entailed her father not returning her sentiment of affection, after a confrontation. Krygier knew the truth but until she was able to face it she submerged herself in tracing the post card writer.
The author did a good job intertwining the two stories, layering connections at various junctures. I appreciated her epilogue, sharing updates about her family as well as the post card family. All families have secrets that sometimes never see the light of day, but Krygier deserves credit for having the courage to share hers and placing it within the broader context of history and culture.