The profoundly moving story of a son's quest to uncover his father's Holocaust secret.
To the outside world, Henry Bernard was a hard-working and beloved family doctor on Sydney's Northern Beaches. Yet he was also a Holocaust survivor whose life was profoundly affected by the experiences of his past. He took extreme steps for his family's security, keeping a rifle near his bedroom and covering up his family's Jewish origin. He was obsessed with paying off debt - the German word for debt being the same as the word for 'guilt'. He kept his striped Auschwitz uniform with a picture of his mother in his wardrobe. These obsessions helped destroy his marriage and restricted any hope he had of conventional domestic happiness.
But Henry had a bigger secret and a deeper shame about what he had done during the war. He suffered privately until he began returning to Germany and Poland to confront his past and come to terms with the deaths of his parents and of Halina, the love of his life.
The Ghost Tattoo is the story of how Tony Bernard, Henry's eldest son, went on a forty-year journey with his father to solve the mystery of why Henry was the way he was, and how he finally came to understand the desperate choices Henry had made in the ghetto to try to keep himself and his family alive.
Tony Bernard is an emergency doctor at Northern Beaches Hospital and Mona Vale Hospital in Sydney. His father Henry was his hero, and it was natural that he followed him into the medical profession. Yet it was one thing to idolise Henry and another to understand who he was and what he had gone through. Over decades and during multiple trips to Europe, Tony found himself on a path of discovery, eventually writing his father's memoirs shortly before his death in 2016. What began as a journey to understand his father became the uncovering of an extraordinary holocaust survival story.
Allen & Unwin
Allen & Unwin
Paperback - C format
Biography & True Stories