‘A gripping story about the shame of a daughter and the history of her Jewish father during the war.’
Some people talk and some people rather don’t. The father of Saskia Goldschmidt wasn’t a survivor that talked always about the horrors he had suffered, but sometimes he did, on moments you did expect it the least. Paul Goldschmidt, a well known speech therapist, prefers to make contact with children that are unable to speak. Working with them makes it easier not to think about the war experiences that are omnipresent in the Amsterdam house in which this willful, creative and vain man lives with his family. A hero to his patients but unreachable for his four children who ‘never experienced hardship and therefore ought to be happy’.
Obligatory Happy is Saskia Goldschmidt’s attempt to recollect the untold stories of her silent father and his Jewish family and in the same time a search for the answer to the question where her overpowering sense of shame comes from.
Digging through the archives and old correspondence she meets her ancestors. The Prussian horse trader, the acid-doctor who moved to Amsterdam and de Coffee King who held on to his one true love. In the ‘land with the heavy air’ she visits the camp Bergen-Belsen which her father just managed to survive. She finds out how his experiences in the war have affected her but she cannot share her discoveries with her father. He dies when she unravels the last family secrets.
‘A personal story which is of all time despite its specific context. Liberating painful.’ – Elsbeth Etty in NRC Handelsblad
‘She builds her story in changing scenes, in the present and the past, and she has an eye for dramatic and comical details. These paragraphs, set against the background of grievance of the War, are very moving.’ – Aleid Truijens in de Volkskrant ****
‘A warm pulsating story that moves. Her father could not have wished for a more beautiful tribute.’ – Noordhollands Dagblad ****
‘Saskia Goldschmidt can fluently and clearly switch between past and present in Obligatory Happy.’ – Red