Book Review: The Unanswered Letter: One Holocaust Family’s Desperate Plea for Help

Regnery History

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The Unanswered Letter: One Holocaust Family’s Desperate Plea for Help, by Faris Cassell is available September 1, 2020, in hardcover (320 pp, $29.99, 978-1684510177) from Regnery History,

The Unanswered Letter placed first in the 2019 Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association Literary Contest for Unpublished Works.

Washington, D.C.September 2, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of V-J day, the official ending of World War II, yet there is an incredible story that has only now been uncovered by award-winning investigative journalist, Faris Cassell, in The Unanswered Letter: One Holocaust Family’s Desperate Plea for Help.

In 1939, as the Nazis closed in, Alfred Berger mailed a desperate letter to an American stranger who happened to share his last name. He and his wife, Viennese Jews, had found escape routes for their daughters. But now their money, connections, and emotional energy were nearly exhausted. Alfred begged the American recipient of the letter, “You are surely informed about the situation of all Jews in Central Europe….By pure chance I got your address….My daughter and her husband will go…to America….help us to follow our children….It is our last and only hope….”

After languishing in a California attic for over sixty years, Alfred’s letter came by chance into Cassell’s possession— “I felt like I held a life in my hands.” Questions flew off the page at her. Did the Bergers’ desperate letter get a response?  Did they escape the Nazis? Were there any living descendants? For decades, Cassell could not rest until she discovered the ending of the story.

Cassell’s gripping narrative will immerse readers in the lives of the Berger family and bring them along on her journey in writing The Unanswered Letter, which led her to:

  • Over a hundred original letters from the Berger family as they pour out their joys, fears, hopes, and struggles to each other while scattered across the world, fleeing persecution
  • A previously unknown opportunity to assassinate Hitler—to which the Bergers were connected
  • Investigative trips across the United States, Austria, the Czech Republic, Belarus, and Israel in search of living descendants and more answers
  • A room in New York holding a century of family artifacts
  • First-hand accounts from people who lived alongside the Bergers and who survived the Holocaust

A story that will move any reader, The Unanswered Letter is a poignant reminder that love and hope never die.

About the Author:  Faris Cassell is a journalist and writer, She and her husband, Sydney, live in Eugene, Oregon. She earned a B.A. in history from Mount Holyoke College and an M.S. in journalism from the University of Oregon. Her decade of research into Alfred and Hedwig Berger’s story was supported by a Mount Holyoke Alumnae Scholarship and by the generous cooperation of the Berger Family.


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  1. „For mid-1933 the German census reported approximately 500,000 Jews in Germany, and Herbert Strauss estimated that there had been about 525,000 in January 1933. If we examine the entire period 1933 to 1945, it appears that approximately 300,000 Jews emigrated from Germany.”
    (Sarah Gordon: Hitler, Germans, and the „Jewish Question”, Princeton University Press, 1984, 119.old.)

    So, why did this family wait?

  2. And just now Merkel wants to get back to the roots :

    Mogilev, Belarus :

    ” During Operation Barbarossa, the city was conquered by Wehrmacht forces on 26 July 1941 and remained under German occupation until 28 June 1944.[7] Mogilev became the official residence of High SS and police leader (HSSPF) Erich von dem Bach. During that period, the Jews of Mogilev were ghettoized and systematically murdered by Ordnungspolizei and SS personnel.[8] Heinrich Himmler personally witnessed the executions of 279 Jews on 23 October 1941. Later that month, a number of mentally disabled patients were poisoned with car exhaust fumes as an experiment; the method of killing was thereafter applied in several Nazi extermination camps. ” Wikip

  3. Holocaust?? What Holocaust? Who are we to believe? Honest historians or the profiteers who make money promoting a fictional story?? According to both David Irving and Ernst Zundel the holocaust never happened, but Jews are paid billions in reparations. Who are we to believe?

    • yes, the Germans killed many jews, by far the most in the east. And these where no Semits, these where Khazars. So these victims where not mentioned in the Bible so it’s strange to call their murder holocaust. But the Khazars love to win their wars by lies. Weaponizing the Holocaust, as Tulsi Gabbard said.

  4. Everyone who has ever gone to Germany and Poland to try to prove the Holocaust really did happen has come back saying the same thing: “There is no evidence”.

    The gassings that supposedly took place have been soundly proven to have been a lie.

    In fact, everything that was said by the Germans regarding the supposed “Holocaust” has been found to have been true.

    If the Jewish people want to blame the real villains of WWII, they have to look no further than their precious Rothschild family of bankers. They financed Hitler’s campaign and made a deal with him to uproot the Jews of Europe and bring them to Palestine.

    Were it not for the Rothschild family, neither WWI nor WWII would have taken place. They financed both wars for the sake of creating Israel.

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