Marion Blumenthal Lazan’s unforgettable memoir Four Perfect Pebbles: A Holocaust Story (Greenwillow Books) recalls the devastating years that shaped her childhood.
Following Hitler’s rise to power, the Blumenthal family — father, mother, Marion, and her brother, Albert — were trapped in Nazi Germany. They managed eventually to get to Holland, but soon thereafter it was occupied by the Nazis. For the next six and a half years the Blumenthals were forced to live in refugee, transit, and prison camps that included Westerbork in Holland and the notorious Bergen-Belsen in Germany. Though they all survived the camps, Walter Blumenthal, Marion’s father, succumbed to typhus just after liberation.
It took three more years of struggle and waiting before Marion, Albert, and their mother at last obtained the necessary papers and boarded ship for the United States. Their story is one of horror and hardship, but it is also a story of courage, hope, and the will to survive.
An outstanding speaker, Marion Blumenthal Lazan has shared her moving first-hand account of the Blumenthal family’s life in Germany, from the events preceding Kristallnacht to imprisonment in concentration camps to liberation in April of 1945, with upwards of one million students and adults. Her Holocaust experiences and messages of respect and tolerance go beyond the facts and inspire audiences around the world. The praise she has received from event hosts is remarkable as she evokes life-changing responses time and time again. She has spoken in public, parochial and private schools, colleges and universities, to church and synagogue groups, and to civic organizations across the United States and internationally.
Marion Blumenthal Lazan lives in New York with her husband Nathaniel. They have three married children, nine beautiful grandchildren and two incredible great-granddaughters.
Praise for Four Perfect Pebbles:
"By the time WWII ended in Europe, the Blumenthal family--Marion, her brother Albert, and their parents--had lived in a succession of refugee, transit, and prison camps for more than six years, not only surviving but staying together....This gripping memoir is written in spare, powerful prose that vividly depicts the endless degradation and humiliation suffered by the Holocaust's innocent victims, as well as the unending horror of life in the camps. It's also an ennobling account of the triumph of the human spirit, as seen through a child's eyes."
Praise for Marion Blumenthal Lazan:
“I am (also) deeply grateful for your participation in the Shoah Foundation’s project. Your dedication to Holocaust awareness is incredibly important and is so meaningful to ensure that future generations will be able to learn about the Holocaust from those who survived.”
– Steven Spielberg
“Personal memoirs have no equal in their weight of truth and memory – yours have educated so many. May you continue to tell and retell your story for years and years.”
– Elie Wiesel, Nobel Laureate
“One woman, one microphone, and a voice was all that was needed to keep more than 900 students in awe.”
– Heather Nuneviller, Principal, Manheim Township Middle School, Lancaster, PA
“I consider your assembly program at Ohio County High School to be the BEST in the history of the school.”
– Judy Bevil, Coordinator, Ohio County High School Youth Center, Hartford, KY
“Marion Blumenthal Lazan was the most powerful speaker I have ever seen in 30 years of school assemblies, as a student, teacher and principal. …….. Can’t remember another time students gave a speaker a standing ovation.”
–Bruce VanWeelden, Principal, Saranac Lake High School, NY
“Thank you so much for your time, energy and the message of hope, respect and love. Your talk was incredibly impactful and students are still talking about you and your message. You radiate hope and a positive outlook which drew them to you and helped make your words penetrate the teenage defenses. You made a difference and for that we are grateful. I think some of them will remember your story for a very long time, if not forever. Thank you. Thank you.”
– Christina Rivera, Principal, Redlands High School, CA
“Dear Marion, Thank you so much for coming to the Air Force Academy. It was my great pleasure and honor to meet both you and Nathaniel. Your talk to the Cadets received outstanding reviews and passionately moved the hearts of many. Thank you so much for your kindness & investment in the lives of future officers.”
– Lou Theriault, Secretary to General Dana Born, Dean, AFA, Colorado Springs, CO
“To say her visit (Marion Blumenthal Lazan) to our school was successful is an understatement. Marion and her husband Nathaniel were among the nicest, warmest people I have ever met. Immediately upon meeting them (and being greeted with a hug) I felt like I was being wrapped in a blanket of love. I was amazed, as this came from someone who had experienced such hatred and darkness. Our students and staff were mesmerized by her and you could hear a pin drop. Our district publicity coordinator, who took pictures of the event, said she’s never seen a more captive audience. After Marion’s discussion, she answered numerous questions and then asked to be photographed with our students. She met each one with a hug, a smile, and a genuine interest in them. Two of our students, both accomplished musicians and dancers, performed a special Irish dance and violin solo for her and Nathaniel privately. They were overwhelmed. Never in my career has this happened and it verified why I do what I do. My building principal, Mrs. Beth Lozier, was particularly moved. She couldn’t even talk about Marion’s presentation at our afternoon faculty meeting as she was so touched – it was beyond words. She’s asked me to please book her for next year – and this time she wants every student and faculty member in attendance. Marion’s presentation is as much about character education as it is a look back at historical facts and events. So, please put Camillus Middle School on your list!”
– Sharon Bush, LMS, Camillus, NY
“I had one of the most memorable and precious moments of my life today. I had the honor and privilege of introducing Marion Blumenthal Lazan. She is amazing; an 80 year old Holocaust survivor. First thing she said to me, “Boy you look like you need a hug.” She was correct. I am also proud of our CCHS, MS, and ES and Murray students who were in attendance. We had roughly 900 people in attendance. I will never forget her.” –
- Shane Stephens, Principal, Clarke Community High School, Osceola, IA
“It was extremely touching to see how the students surrounded you after your presentation…they just had to reach out and touch you! As in many high schools in this country, many of our students deal with horrendous situations in their home lives, and many feel bitter and beaten. It was mostly those students who commented afterward about how your message gave them hope for their own futures. Thank you again for coming and spreading your message. We all are so grateful – With love and gratitude, Darlene Stott”
– English Teacher, RCS Senior High School , Ravena, NY
“I wanted to send you a message and just say thank you for writing your book Four Perfect Pebbles. I got to read it for first time when I was in 7th grade back in 2005. I’m now 23 years old and I will forever hold that as one of my favorite books. I actually got the pleasure to meet you in 2006 when you came to Fairforest Middle School in Spartanburg, SC. That will also go down as one of my favorite moments in my life. Therefore, again, I thank you for all that you’ve done.”
-Kayla de Mattos, SC
“I am a chemistry teacher at McDowell high school and I had the privilege of hearing you speak both this past Sunday and on Wednesday to the students. We met personally very briefly in the room out side the main office Wednesday afternoon. I just wanted to reiterate the impact that you had on both myself personally and also the vast numbers of students in our school. You have been talked about constantly since you spoke. Students during class, in the hallways, and in the lunchroom have been talking about you experiences, your spirit, and most importantly your message of kindness and respect. It breathed a breath of fresh air in to our building and into my heart. Furthermore, I am also the Youth Director at a Presbyterian church in the next town over. Sunday I was honored to bring a young man that I mentor in the church to your talk. He was deeply moved. Your message of kindness, respect, and tolerance was precisely the message I try to convey to my youth group and also, I believe, the central message of both of our faiths. I was absolutely honored to meet you. Words are inadequate to describe my gratitude for you coming and sharing a very painful story so that others may live their lives better. I promise you I will share your story with my son, Luke (age 2) and my daughter, Lillian (age 4 months) when they are older. God Bless you”
– Jake Tobolewski, Chemistry Teacher, McDowell High School, Erie, PA
“Marion, your words will live in the hearts of those incarcerated women forever!!!! I am so grateful to have met you. The women were still in awe of you by their night time meeting.”
– Liz Stokes, Suffolk County Correctional Facility, Riverhead, NY
“Thank you so much for coming to our school and talking to our students and staff. I consider myself truly fortunate to have met you. Marion, your presentation was so moving! Not just to me, but to everyone that was in attendance. I am amazed and so pleased with the positive buzz your visit instigated. Your missions to bear witness, and your message of hope and optimism, resounded. It is evident in conversations, and I believe it was evident in kinder interpersonal actions within our school. It is evident in these children’s’ letters to you. God has touched you, and made you shine. Thank you for spreading that light to our school community.”
– Mary Gotham, West Genesee High School, Camillus, NY
“We are still glowing from the wonderful week we shared with you. You two have a fan club back here…we hear a continual stream of praise for the both of you. You two are a great team, and it is easy to see how many lives you have touched in your few short days in Kingsburg. Denise and I figured out that you spoke to over 5,000 kids and adults, and your story reached about 100,000 through TV and newspaper coverage. That is pretty amazing! Not only was your story heard, it was embraced by the listeners. One teacher said, “We expected an old lady, and we got an energetic, positive, and dynamic speaker. The kids were glued to every word. WOW!”
– Janet Kelly, Kings River School, Kingsburg, CA