Montgomery Co. writer and grandson work on projects to tell their family history

Richard Bank spent part of his career practicing law, but says since the age of 15, he's also been writing.

"It's more my passion. It's more than an outlet, I can't do without it," he said.

Bank poured that passion into penning what became a trilogy - exploring his family's past and the Holocaust. He wrote "Feig," "I Am Terezin," and "The Tree of Sorrow."

In the dedication of his most recent book, a memoir titled "The Tree of Sorrow," Bank mentions his grandparents, Ludwig and Sophie Frank, who survived the concentration camp Theresienstadt.

He describes them both as "loving grandparents."

"They never spoke of the Holocaust, ever," explained Bank. "And I never asked."

Bank says he didn't know much about Theresienstadt until he started to do some research for his books.

"It was a horrible place to be and I realized then how lucky I was to have them both survive," he said.

Bank's grandson, Hayden, also wanted to find out more about past generations.

"I always had a love for genealogy," said Hayden. "Why not do the Frank family tree?"

Over the course of almost two years, he found more names to add to the family tree - many who perished in the Holocaust at Auschwitz.

"I didn't know these people even existed," said Bank.

"There are eight generations," his grandson explained. "It really goes back to the 1700s."

Banks says looking at the family tree his grandson put together, there is a positive message of hope. Despite the many broken branches, new generations are growing the tree.

"My great-grandmother would have been very proud of doing it," said Hayden.

"The Tree of Sorrow" is also a reference to his grandfather's watch. His grandfather, Ludwig Frank, survived the Holocaust and carried a pocket watch while in the concentration camp.

"It's something that was actually in Theresienstadt marking time," said Bank.

Bank received the watch for his Bar Mitzvah and passed it along to his grandson on his Bar Mitzvah his last year.

"It was a very emotional thing and a wonderful event to give it to him," said Bank.

Hayden says the watch is a "great bond between grandfather and grandson."

"Nothing could have beat that moment. It was great," he said.

"With memory comes responsibility, so we have to remember. And then we have to do something about it, and I know he will," said Bank.

For more information:
Richard Bank
Holocaust Trilogy
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