When Walter Fast emigrated from Vienna to England alone aged fifteen, he was escaping the Nazi occupation and the decimation of the Eastern European Jewish population. Yet with his escape came great loss – he would never again see his aunts, uncles, cousins and mother – the family who had loved and raised him and whose Jewish roots gave him his early identity.
His name changed to Walter Foster, he married in England and had children and grandchildren of his own, who had no connection to their incredible historic past. Walter revealed the importance of telling his story, which is also his children’s story, in the foreword to the book he eventually wrote – the past is not lost if it is remembered.
“I was persuaded to write these notes when not long ago one of you asked, concerned and perplexed, why it was that I had come to England when my family had gone to Israel. Clearly I had not done enough to explain. The Haggadah commands us to tell our story to our children and children’s children. And I really would like my grandchildren to know about their roots. So here is the story of the Fasts and of the Schlamms and of my early years. When I re-read what I had written it reminded me of Voltaire’s catalogue of the calamities of his century: the tale of Candide and the maiden Conégonde, and their friend, the wise Pangloss, who taught that all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds – and that come what may we must cultivate our garden. My wish for you is that you and your children and your grandchildren should always live in a decent society in a peaceful part of the world. (The Haggadah is the Passover prayer book, which commands that the story of the plight and exodus of the Jews exiled in Egypt should be passed down from one generation to the next, by telling the it to the children.)”
For more description of Walter’s life and journey, please visit his author page here.