My Sister's Eyes: A Family Chronicle of Rescue and Loss During World War II

Hala and Ignas on their honeymoon, September 1935.

It's May of 1935, when Hala Kaplan, the pampered daughter of a prominent family of Lodz, Poland, receives a phone call from her best friend inviting her to meet an eligible bachelor who resides in Belgium. Ignas Krakowiak has come home to find a bride. Soon after, Hala and Ignas marry.

In My Sister's Eyes, told through the voice of Hala and Ignas's daughter, Joan Arnay Halperin, we learn how the grand illusion of the Krakowiak family's charmed life is catapulted into the harsh reality of World War II. Their ‘exodus’ across half the world following their rescue by the "Angel of Bordeaux", Aristides de Sousa Mendes, and their evacuation to an island 'paradise' leading to personal tragedy, is a Holocaust tale quite unlike any other.

My Sister's Eyes is available to buy now through:

The Sousa Mendes Foundation and

Praise for My Sister’s Eyes 

“My Sister’s Eyes is a charming work written with precision and passion. It tells the story of the Krakowiak family from their prosperous life in Poland and Belgium through the Nazi onslaught and their perilous flight to freedom. The story unfolds so graciously that one does not quite realize its power as we experience the world before in its elegance, the descent into hell, the struggle to find a way out of Europe, the moral heroism of the Portuguese Consul in Bordeaux and then their escape from the inferno and their journey to a new world and a new life. And just as they are about to reach safety, they experience a tragedy – and later freedom and stability, birth and rebirth. The brevity of the work intensifies the depth of the journey, the words that are written and what cannot be written.”

— Michael Berenbaum, Director, Sigi Ziering Institute, Professor of Jewish Studies, American Jewish University

“This book is beautiful and well written. The photos, letters and family timeline are excellent, serving to immediately engage the reader. Depending on the ability of the individual student, it could be a good source for middle school, and equally excellent for high school, college level and teachers alike. This true story of one individual family provides the teacher an opportunity to present the historic background of this bleak period of history. It is a lesson from the past, a confrontation with the present, as well as a message for the future.”

— Marcia Sachs Littell, Professor Emeritus, Holocaust & Genocide Studies, Stockton University