A SCOTTISH author is releasing her second book based on her family history which dates back to Nazi-era Berlin. 

Connective Tissue is the second novel by Edinburgh-based Eleanor Thom. Her first, The Tin-Kin, was published in 2009 and focused on her grandfather’s side of the family.

He was part of a group of Scottish Travellers and, following on from that book’s success, Thom turned to the other side of the family tree.

Specifically, she looked into her Jewish grandmother, Dora Tannenbaum (below), who was exiled to the UK in 1939 from Berlin at just 22-years-old and forced to leave behind her family.

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The book itself tells two stories – one set in Berlin in the 1930s and a little into the 1940s and another set in south-west Scotland in 2010.

“The first narrative is about a working-class Jewish family and a character who is based on my grandmother who is exiled for being stateless and she comes alone to the UK”, the author told the Sunday National.

“The second is her granddaughter’s story. She starts to look back into her family history and ends up going back to Berlin to find out who her family were in the past.”

The book is the product of years of research, one that was complicated by the fact that Thom never actually knew Tannenbaum as she died when the author was around two years old.

“I always knew about the story. I always knew she was Jewish, that wasn’t a secret or a mystery.

“I knew she’d come from Berlin and that she had come on her own. She was forced to leave behind a family who eventually died in the camps.”

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Among those left behind was Tannenbaum’s one-year-old daughter Ruth.

Thom (below) explained: “We didn’t know these people’s names or very much about their lives. There was only the odd clue left behind.

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“Everything I knew came from her four daughters and my mum is the eldest. I always assumed nothing would be in the archives as they’re very scattered around the world.

“But I ended up finding a lot of information when I went to Berlin and there were parts of the city she knew very well where relatives would have lived or worked that I could still visit.”

After making it to the UK, Tannenbaum worked as a maid but was eventually needed in a factory due to the Second World War.

“She moved from London to Luton and that’s where she met my grandfather. He was originally from a Travelling family who had settled in Elgin.

“All his family were still there but he was away for the war. My grandmother (below) also ended up in Elgin and she stayed there until she died.”

Although the story is based on the experiences of Thom’s family, some things have to be left to the imagination.

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In the book for example, the characters based on Thom’s grandparents meet in a dance hall as the author says she doesn’t know what the specific circumstances were.

It’s a nice balance to strike though, as the author admits it’s nice to be given some creative licence when dealing with a story that takes place across decades.

“The research I did and all the documents gave me the facts but I still have to accept that I’m bringing in my own experience of interpreting all this”, Thom explains.

“I think I have a little bit more licence that way. Havin that framework has very helpful.”

After so much research, the writer can’t wait to finally see the novel hit the shelves at the beginning of September.

“It is exciting. I’m really relieved actually because it’s been with me for a really long time”, she said.

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“But in some ways I still don’t think it’s finished because I’m still researching. I’ve spent a lot of time in archives on my own or with my cousin Debbie who has helped a lot.

“We’re often on the phone late at night.”

The book’s success is one thing, but Thom hopes that it well help to spark a wider conversation among families with similar experiences.

“People will have conversations with me about the book and I love meeting people who perhaps share a similar story, who maybe had ancestors.

“It allows us to share resources and that’s really just as important.”

Connective Tissue by Eleanor Thom will be released on September 6.