Saskia Goldschmidt

Verplicht gelukkig

Portret van een familie

There are talkers and silent types. But there are also fathers who are neither one nor the other. Paul Goldschmidt, a well-known speech therapist, is an expert at making contact with children who are unable speak. With them, he never has to discuss the war years, which are ever-present in the Amsterdam house where this willful, creative, and vain man lives with his family. A hero to his patients, he is unreachable and absent to his four children who ’have never experienced anything and should therefore be happy’.

In Verplicht gelukkig Saskia Goldschmidt sets out to uncover the untold stories of her silent father and his extended Jewish family. And she also seeks answers to where the overpowering sense of guilt and shame she feels comes from.

By going through archives and old letters, the daughter gets to know her ancestors. The Prussian horse trader, the vinegar doctor who emigrated to Amsterdam, and the ‘Coffee King’ who refused to be robbed of the love of his life. Step-by-step, she realizes how her father’s wartime experiences have shaped her as well. The discoveries she makes, which she can no longer share with him, are the basis of an unsettling and remarkable family story.

Shame, disgust, anger, admiration and ultimately love. Saskia Goldschmidt easily navigates between all these hard to grasp emotions and, towards the end of his life, gets to know Paul Goldschmidt: ‘a terrible father, but an inspiring person’.

de Volkskrant

A beautifully composed and strongly-written story. A personal account that, regardless of the specific circumstances, is timeless in nature. Painfully liberating.

NRC Handelsblad

Saskia Goldschmidt

Saskia Goldschmidt (b. 1954) made her debut in 2011 with Verplicht gelukkig, portret van een familie (Obliged to be Happy: Portrait of a Family), the story of her search for her Jewish family history that had previously been swept under the rug. In 2012 she published the successful novel De

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Verplicht gelukkig. Portret van een familie (2011). Non-fictie, 285 pagina's.


English (PDF document)



Kerkstraat 361
NL - 1017 HW Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 528 99 11
Fax: +31 20 528 99 12

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