(September 19, 2022, Oegstgeest, Netherlands, JNS thread) Post Amsterdamrs focuses on Holocaust memoirs written by Jewish survivors and their descent.
Founded by Liesbeth Heenk in 2012, it started out as a generalist publisher but gradually evolved into the niche publisher it is today, having built up a reservoir of over 60 books in English and now publishing around 27 books on the subject per year.
Its 10th anniversary was celebrated in New York with an aperitif for American authors on September 12, 2022 at the Consulate of the Netherlands, which four survivors were able to attend, and at Studio Libeskind (for press and organizations) the following day.
Liesbeth Heenk runs the publishing house alone:
“I believe in the power of first-person stories told by survivors. These important stories need to be told, so we don’t forget them. I focus on stories of individuals because they can have the most impact and create empathy. Holocaust history must be preserved at all costs to combat anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.
Amsterdam Publishers books have been translated into 15 languages. Over 74% of the reader market is based in the United States and a total of 42 million Kindle pages have been read. Amsterdam Publishers books can be ordered from bookstores around the world. Many of his award-winning titles have become bestsellers in their genre, including that of Manny Steinberg Outcry (2014), by Tammy Bottner Among the reeds (2017), and Nechama Birnbaum The Auschwitz Redhead (2021) of which more than 30,000 copies were sold in the first 6 months.
“Liesbeth Heenk deserves tremendous recognition and thanks from all of us for her dedication to bringing to light the stories of Holocaust survivors, especially those written by their descendants. Holocaust survivors are dying but their stories will survive thanks to the work of Amsterdam publishers. Many major American publishers have stopped publishing Holocaust memoirs, which apparently are out of fashion. Thanks to Liesbeth Heenk and the editors in Amsterdam, these stories will stay alive and relevant.Kenneth P Price Ph.D., author of Separated Together (Amsterdam Publishers, 2020).
Amsterdam Publishers, Liesbeth Heenk, Lange Voort 223, 2343 CD Oegstgeest, The Netherlands, tel (00 1) +31 6 518 58260, [email protected]
Speech Liesbeth Heenk – owner of Amsterdam Publishers on his publishing company’s 10th anniversary celebrated at Studio Libeskind on Broadway, New York City Tuesday, September 13, 2022
I would like to start by thanking Daniel and Nina Libeskind and the Dutch consulate for generously organizing this special event.
I am very grateful to be able to celebrate the launch of Aftermath and 10 years of my publishing house and here at Studio Libeskind.
Like her brother, Annette is versatile. Although a scientist by training, she writes beautifully flowing prose; she has a delicate way of evoking meaning through her words – choosing those words with great care.
Not only congratulations on this achievement, Annette, but also a happy birthday!
A publisher exists by virtue of its authors. And I’m proud to have an exceptional and dedicated group of authors. I feel truly blessed. Today, some are present: the award-winning Dr. Kenneth Price, flown in from Texas, best-selling and award-winning author, the incredible Nechama Birnbaum whose book, The Auschwitz Redhead, is still a #1 bestseller 10 months after its launch, and two forthcoming authors, Roslyn Bernstein and Oren Schneider.
Fortunately, I saw many perpetrators yesterday at the Dutch consulate, including four Holocaust survivors.
Amsterdam Publishers is a small publishing house (based in the Netherlands) committed to keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive by publishing books about the Holocaust. The best way to do that is to tell stories, real stories. History books with absolute numbers don’t have as much impact as stories that create an emotional connection.
Perhaps you have asked yourself the same question that many of my authors have asked themselves: is she one of us? Is she Jewish? No, I’m not, I’m a Dutch agnostic. I don’t believe, but I believe in the power of words. Words can change things.
My motivation is linked to a feeling of injustice. It most likely started when my mother told my siblings and I at the dinner table how she, as a young girl, used to carry brochures in her bicycle for the Dutch resistance. You don’t realize the significance of these things until much later. More deeply, I feel a strong need to do something meaningful, to change the world as much as an individual is capable of changing the world.
Whether the books reach the audience they should reach is a matter that concerns me the most. How can I ensure that new generations read the books? Starting a new “Holocaust Books for Young Adults” series is not enough.
I would like the books to be part of the compulsory reading curriculum on the Holocaust in American schools. Several would make excellent and impactful reading for students. One of my goals is to educate future generations and preserve the heritage of Holocaust witnesses.
Ten years at 60 pounds is a start. My job won’t be done until 6 million stories are told.
On a personal level, I not only feel blessed by the trust that my authors – especially the survivors – have placed in me, but above all I am inspired by their resilience and the way they dealt with the trauma of the past. They teach invaluable lessons of tolerance, kindness and acceptance. Nobody had the right to be bitter and angry with the world anymore. Still, they got their lives back.
Their messages resonate with me every day.
Liesbeth Heenk – Owner and Founder of Amsterdam Publishers