It had come to this: breastfeeding her screaming three-month-old while sitting on the cigarette-scarred floor of a union hall, lying to her husband so she could attend yet another activist meeting, and otherwise actively self-destructing. Then Sonya Huber turned to her long-dead grandfather, the family “nobody,” for help. Huber’s search for meaning and resonance in the life of her grandfather Heina Buschman was unusual insofar as she knew him only through dismissive family stories: He let his wife die of neglect . . . he used his infant son as a decoy when transporting anti-Nazi literature in a baby carriage . . . and so the stories went. What she actually discovered was that, like his granddaughter, Heina Buschman was a committed and beleaguered activist whose story echoed her own. Huber’s research not only conjured her grandfather’s voice in answer to many of the questions that troubled her but also found in his story a source of personal sustenance for herself. Based on extensive research and documentation, this story of Heina Buschman offers a rare look into the heart of the “average” socialist trying to survive the Nazis and rebuild a broken world. Alternating with his voice is Huber’s own, providing a rich and moving counterpoint that makes this deeply personal exploration of family, politics, and individual responsibility a story for all of us and for all time.
Huber, Sonya. Opa Nobody. American Lives Series, ed. Tobias Wolff. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2008.
Huber, Sonya, "Opa Nobody" (2008). English Faculty Book Gallery. 23.