When Time Stopped

A Memoir of My Father's War and What Remains


About The Book

In this remarkably moving memoir Ariana Neumann dives into the secrets of her father’s past: years spent hiding in plain sight in war-torn Berlin, the annihilation of dozens of family members in the Holocaust, and the courageous choice to build anew.

In 1941, the first Neumann family member was taken by the Nazis, arrested in German-occupied Czechoslovakia for bathing in a stretch of river forbidden to Jews. He was transported to Auschwitz. Eighteen days later his prisoner number was entered into the morgue book.

Of thirty-four Neumann family members, twenty-five were murdered by the Nazis. One of the survivors was Hans Neumann, who, to escape the German death net, traveled to Berlin and hid in plain sight under the Gestapo’s eyes. What Hans experienced was so unspeakable that, when he built an industrial empire in Venezuela, he couldn’t bring himself to talk about it. All his daughter Ariana knew was that something terrible had happened.

When Hans died, he left Ariana a small box filled with letters, diary entries, and other memorabilia. Ten years later Ariana finally summoned the courage to have the letters translated, and she began reading. What she discovered launched her on a worldwide search that would deliver indelible portraits of a family loving, finding meaning, and trying to survive amid the worst that can be imagined.

When Time Stopped is an unputdownable detective story and an epic family memoir, spanning nearly ninety years and crossing oceans. Neumann brings each relative to vivid life. In uncovering her father’s story after all these years, she discovers nuance and depth to her own history and liberates poignant and thought-provoking truths about the threads of humanity that connect us all.

About The Author

Photograph by Bryan Adams

Ariana Neumann was born and grew up in Venezuela. She previously worked as a foreign correspondent for Venezuela’s The Daily Journal and her writing has also appeared in The European. She currently lives in London with her family. When Time Stopped is her first book.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (February 4, 2020)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982106379

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Raves and Reviews

When Time Stopped is beautiful, deeply moving, and extraordinary in its reach and its depth. I felt such kinship with the way in which Ariana Neumann moved through the world in her journey. It is absolutely remarkable.”

Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare with Amber Eyes

“Utterly riveting: Ms. Neumann's memoir reads like a detective novel, as she unravels her late father's complex, agonizing yet inspiring trajectory. Conjuring the lives of her relatives murdered in the Holocaust, she brings their lost world to vivid life.”

—Claire Messud, author of The Emperor’s Children and The Woman Upstairs

“Ariana Neumann's beautiful, meticulously researched memoir is an extraordinarily moving story of a family’s lost history, a father’s well-kept secret, and a daughter who pieces it all together with courage, tenacity, and most of all, love.”

—Dani Shapiro, author of InheritanceDevotion, and Still Writing

“I’ve read countless memoirs. I’ve read hundreds of books about the Holocaust and mysteries and detective stories and rigorously researched tomes of history and psychological studies of the effects of trauma. But never in my reading life have I ever come across anything akin to this magical, brilliant, and gripping work of art.”

—Deborah Copaken, author of The Red Book

“Through her painstaking work Neumann takes lifeless fragments ensuring her family's obscurity, and magically brings them back to life in this carefully woven beautifully written tapestry. This is a work of resistance against oblivion, a reminder against forgetting, an investigation driven by true love.” 

—Stephen D. Smith, PhD, Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation

“An astonishing family memoir that will imprint itself on your psyche as only the best books can, forever changing the way you look at your own family.  With a mastery of the dogged art of research rarely seen, and with an exquisite narrative sensibility to match, Ariana Neumann has breached the hidden surface of her family’s tumultuous past and brought not only their tragedies and sorrows, but also their joys and loves, to indelible light.”

—John Burnham Schwartz, author of The Red Daughter, The Commoner and Reservation Road

“A love letter to a father who, out of sheer will and determination, did not allow the Nazis to destroy him—and who rose to become one of Venezuela's most successful industrialists.  Part literary memoir, part mystery tale, Ariana Neumann's tribute to her father is a classic story of redemption and love.”

—Janine di Giovanni, author of The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria

“A fascinating and beautifully constructed memoir and more than that, a testimonial to the power of meticulous research and family love.”

—Caroline Moorehead, author of A Train in Winter and Village of Secrets

“Ariana Neumann’s story may strike a chord, and rightly so….When Time Stopped is more than just history. It’s a warning.”

Michael Palin

“Remarkable…Through painstaking, meticulous research Neumann tells the true story—part memoir, part history—of her heart-wrenching and ultimately life-affirming journey in uncovering her family’s long hidden past.”

—Georgia Hunter, author of We Were the Lucky Ones

“Ariana Neumann has given us a gripping true story…This is nonfiction that reads like a detective thriller.”

—Tilar J. Mazzeo, author of Irena’s Children

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