Story of HOPE

One of the most life-changing books everyone should read

How far reaching is the Holocaust?

More than anyone will ever know.

Mitchell Raff’s book, Little Boy, I Know Your Name, is an honest and relatable account that encompasses resilience and hope in the aftermath of the Holocaust as a second-generation survivor. Each person has their own unique story and experiences that deserve to be heard. This book is simply a must read.

A boy photo of Michael Raff standing next to a fence.

About Me

Mitchell Raff

Author

A second-generation Holocaust survivor who grew up in Los Angeles. As a child, he was kidnapped and taken to Israel where he lived for a year and a half before the private investigator hired by his family located him. This led to a lifelong connection with the Jewish homeland, and as a young man, he returned to Israel to serve in the Israeli Defense Force.

A former business owner, Mitchell now resides in Southern California and is the owner and director of an outreach charity, Clothing the Homeless. Little Boy, I Know Your Name: A Second-Generation Memoir from Inherited Holocaust Trauma is his first book, and it is an intensely personal examination of how he survived being the child of survivors.


A quote from Mitchell, "DURING MY ADULT LIFE on countless occasions a friend, acquaintance or stranger would ask about my life. When speaking of my childhood, I learned to be careful in how I answered this question knowing that often it would lead to more uncomfortable questions. Nonetheless, I would respond. Eventually and without fail, my friend or acquaintance would say, 'You have a very interesting life story. You should write a book.' So I did."

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"This is one of the most compelling memoirs I have read in a long time…
Little Boy is tragic, heartbreaking, captivating, and, in the end, quietly triumphant." — Pacific Book Review 

"An absorbing remembrance of a difficult psychological legacy." — Kirkus Reviews

"It takes courage and self-awareness to prevent the spread. His story is a lesson, a guide, and a warning." — Online Book Club

"Heartfelt and hopeful—a touching coming of age story about a boy born to Holocaust survivors." — Independent Book Review

"Rejecting a family tradition of silence to catalog inherited and individual wounds,
Little Boy, I Know Your Name is a powerful memoir." — Foreword Reviews

"At once intensely personal and historically significant." — Self-Publishing Review (starred review)

"If I and many others like me are children of the Holocaust, the Holocaust is a weirdly absent parent.
We feel its presence but never enough to truly know it." — The US Review of Books

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Praises For

Little Boy, I Know Your Name

Endorsements

“This intensely personal account of survival as a second-generation Holocaust survivor offers hope to those caught in a cycle of self-deprecation and self-loathing. Mitchell's ability to heal and transform his life should be an encouragement to all who struggle to overcome the traumas of life­ from a 'poser' to one accomplished and authentic man.”

Alice Lynn
marriage and family therapist; "In the Absence of Family: Lives Shaped by Loss," frequent presenter for the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

“As one of many survivors who have struggled to cope with inherited trauma, Mitchell Raff's story is both human and relatable. It pushes you to look deep into your own story, to trace the patterns of brokenness and blessings. It's a must-read for all those looking for a way forward to a fuller and more beautiful life.”

Joey Ross
ordained pastor and speaker

“Mitchell Raff has written a mesmerizing account of his life as the child of Holocaust survivors. His memoir eloquently testifies to the Holo­caust's legacy of trauma and violence across the generations - even when memories went unspoken. Largely abandoned by his father and cruelly mistreated by his psychologically damaged mother, Mitch find the love and stability that he so desperately seeks in his uncle Issa who with his wife Sally become his surrogate parents. But even their love proves unable to prevent Mitch from embarking on a path of self-loathing and self-destruction fueled by the abuse that warped his childhood. In this fiercely honest account, Raff shares his long struggle to break the cycle of violence, attain self-understanding, and, ultimately, even forgiveness.”

Marilyn ]. Harran, PhD
founding director, Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education;
professor of religious studies and history, Chapman University

“As the surviving victims of Nazi atrocities pass on, their children are left: to cope. One of those children, Mitchell Raff, has written a unique and powerful memoir about being raised by an abusive mother, dysfunctional father, and kind relatives whose lives have been defined by the Holocaust. A natural storyteller, Raff uses insight and candor to draw us into a per­sonal hell in which he repeatedly tries and fails to become the man he wants to be. At the end, he offers a ray of hope as he finally learns to deal with his personal demons and discovers love. As a first-time author, Raff writes in a fresh and compelling style, and his candid examination of his life teaches readers something about themselves. A must-read.”

Robert Loewen
author of The Lioness of Leiden

“When I picked up Mitchell Raff’s compelling story of a painful childhood, I did not know what to expect. His mother and father, both survivors of the Holocaust, who separated early in Mitchell’s childhood, were deeply damaged by years of surviving in Nazi-occupied Europe. They were psychologically incapable of providing a nurturing environment for children. If this description sounds a little insipid and clinical, this is not how Mitchell experienced it. Through years of neglect, physical abuse, and abduction to Israel, he struggled as an adult with addiction until finding a place of serenity and love. Luckily, Issa and Sally, two other Holocaust survivors related to his biological parents, had provided him with a space of safety and support whenever they could.

Though the memoir does not recreate the lives of his parents during the Holocaust, their trauma overshadows Mitchell’s boyhood and beyond. His writing is less a testament about intergenerational trauma; rather, it is about the resonances of extreme violence and fear that affect the coming generations, including Mitchell’s son decades later. Once I started reading Little Boy, I Know Your Name, I could not put it down until I reached the last page.”

Björn Krondorfer
Regents’ Professor Director, Martin-Springer Institute & Endowed Professor of Religious Studies
(Dept. of Comparative Cultural Studies)
Northern Arizona University

“I was very moved by Mitchell Raff's heartfelt and honest memoir. He doesn’t shy away from detailing the brutal realities of his upbringing, marked by abuse at the hands of his Holocaust-survivor mother and the subsequent turmoil that shaped his early life. His experiences of being kidnapped to Israel and then adopted by his aunt and uncle in the United States add layers of complexity to his story, providing a unique perspective on trauma and survival. What makes this memoir exceptional is Raff's openness about his years of sex addiction and unhealthy relationships, showing us how trauma echoes through generations. And he shows it's possible to overcome past traumas and create a fulfilling life, to become "the man I always wanted to be but didn't know how." Little Boy, I Know Your Name is more than a memoir. It's an important narrative about the power of self-reflection, the courage to confront one's demons, and the resilience required to change one's life trajectory. The book contains several pages of family photos, which I appreciated. I highly recommend this book!”

Naomi K. Eagleson
Founder & Coach, Artful Editor

“You rarely have insight to the true story of the people you know, and you especially don't know the secrets they manage to hide successfully. Author Mitchell Raff bares his soul in this remarkable memoir of inherited Holocaust trauma. My heart ached for the losses, celebrated love's embrace, struggled with the demons, and forged forward with the jour­ney of healing a wounded soul. In being so open, Mitch provides a type of therapy session for the reader. Hauntingly titled, Little Boy, I Know Your Name shows us that we can find help and support in order to choose to live a healthier life.”

David B. Moore
assistant vice president, Chapman University

What Readers Are Saying

This book is truly the story of a man who was broken under the unfortunate circumstances of his life but he turned all that into an amazing success story…

This book has been an incredible story of the life of a man that is filled with heartbreaking traumas starting in his young childhood age, with a broken, dysfunctional family all the way to his painful adulthood years as a family man.

This book is a roller coaster of a life filled with afflictions, losses, deep addictions and so much more that makes you wonder how Mitchell Raff survived the darkness that followed him everywhere for so long.

Every loss, every trauma felt so real in the reader’s heart that I truly felt the heaviness of his pain so deeply… This book took my breath away.

Despite the sadness that I felt throughout this incredible memoir, it still brought so much hope to know the power of perseverance that God has given to each and everyone of us. Some such as Mitchell are examples of this incredible gift and they demonstrate this gift so beautifully. What an inspiration to see how he overcame the stumbling blocks of his life despite of the losses of so many loved ones that he endured.

This book is truly the story of a man who was broken under the unfortunate circumstances of his life but he turned all that into an amazing success story of helping others by shinning his light on them. Amazing book that I will share with many for sure...

— C. Hynes – Reviewer (posted on NetGalley)

I found this to be an incredibly moving memoir which so many can relate to...

As a teacher, one of the things that have been stressed in recent staff meetings is the concept of generational trauma. A significant portion of my students have had challenging familial situations or have friends/family experiencing trauma both first and second hand. This is a topic that has been coming up more and more in the news and media, which is a critical mental health concern. Little Boy, I Know Your Name is a prime example of how generational trauma has the trickle effect, affecting generation after generation in one way or another.

Author Mitchell Raff does a great job describing his childhood, parenthood and the trickle down effect that generational trauma continues to have on families and the difficulties in changing behavior away from this trauma. Mitchell’s parents are abusive and neglectful as they try to forge ahead, broken after surviving the Holocaust. Due to the Holocaust being such a widely affecting atrocity in history, it made me wonder how many families are suffering through generational trauma because of this event.

Mitchell spends the majority of his story, however, identifying how his childhood affected his relationships and parenting. This memoir is very introspective, where Mitchell identifies all his failings in maintaining healthy relationships and the potential whys behind them, all the while trying to make changes to be a better person. Between absent parenting and using addiction to cope, he attempts to change the path of his family and stop the path of destruction that trauma has woven into his family.

I found this memoir to be a very quick read and difficult to put down. I empathized with Mitchell as he struggled through his experiences and attempted to make better choices. I found this to be an incredibly moving memoir which so many can relate to, answering the “why” someone may be treating others poorly and how generational trauma seeps through to children not even born yet.

— E. Pretsch – Reviewer (posted on Goodreads)

I have nothing but admiration for your bravery and willingness to tell your story.

You have had quite the life and I am glad you are still here to share it with me and the world. I cannot imagine your experience of living through the many traumas you did, but through your story telling I have a window into how hard it was.... My family fortunately had immigrated to the US prior to WWII so I do not have any relatives that I knew who were held by the Nazis, but relatives of my grandparent's generation who remained in Europe perished in the death camps. I have always been curious how that trauma found its way into my parents and then into me. Your story has relit the desire to look deeper into that.

You are a gift to trauma survivors by unflinchingly addressing the ways you coped. I have personal experience and family history with addictive practices and hold your journey in nothing less than awe. There are countless ways addiction finds its grasp on behavior in our lives, and you model in such stark honesty your path into and out of its hold. For that you are a blessing.

Thank you for sharing your story.... it left me truly inspired. I literally read half the book in one sitting and the rest the following day. That says how much I got out of it!

— Eric

What a memoir! This book affected me!

What a memoir! What an inspirational yet devastating read! This book affected me! I knew little about Jewish culture or holocaust survivors and in all honesty thought little about the generational impact. I do however have an educational and professional background in trauma and providing trauma therapies. This is a fantastic honest insight into all of the above. It had me engaged throughout, feeling many emotions and wanting to see how things turn out. I feel privileged to have read this and it’s provided me with a lot to consider. Thank you.

— K. Gall – Reviewer (posted on NetGalley)

Brave, honest man to share your story with the world.

You have so much to be proud of in all the work you have invested into yourself (most importantly) and your book. You have accomplished a tremendous amount.

— Dr. Julie White, EdD

I was touched by your honesty and heartbreaking descriptions.

I think it will help people more fully understand generational trauma and its destructive implications. Even though you had told me many of these stories, it was still shocking to read them and to digest what you have gone through. I hope writing it, publishing it, and sharing it gives you closure, and I wish you all the best moving forward with your life with Marie.

— Jen

It's an eye-opener for me — for many people and things that we have in our lives that we take for granted.

I am so sorry that you lost everyone (whom you loved and loved you) in your life. I'm sharing your book with a few friends... One in particular, a coworker/friend, who probably would gain the most from it, and hopefully their (adopted) son who had struggled with drugs and alcohol in high school would read it, too. I hope your book will reach a bigger audience. It'll be good therapy for many.

— Mariel

It takes so much courage to tell a story like this.

I absolutely was hooked after reading the first couple of pages and I finished the book in a few hours. To think that the Holocaust still affects people of the 21st century and destroys lives still to this day just befuddles me. The author was able to communicate his horrific childhood very simply and quite bravely. Despite all the violence Mitchell Raff endures from his mother, he doesn’t seem bitter or angry. He is able to compartmentalize the bad parts of his life from the good which is quite remarkably after all the mental and physical abuse he sustains at the hands of his holocaust surviving mother. I think the best part of this book is how the author despite the years of abuse, he is still able to accept love from other people in his life. He so gently describes and communicates to the reader how special his relationship with his Uncle Issa is throughout his life. Although this book is undoubtedly sad and unbelievably painful to read, you can’t put it down. He learned only violence from his mother and nothing else. It takes so much courage to tell a story like this. Mitchell Raff not only. tells his story so humbly but so eloquently. He really has inspired me.

— A. Tilton – Reviewer (posted on NetGalley)

Mitchell Raff describes a phenomenon that is little understood…

This book could not have been better timed. In Israel, an entire generation has been traumatized by the terrorist attacks of Oct. 7, which were the most serious crimes against the Jewish people since the Second World War. The atrocities of that horrible day will weigh upon not just the survivors, but their children. In this harrowing volume, Mitchell Raff describes a phenomenon that is little understood, which is how impact of genocide can continue into future generations. Raff is unsparing with himself and his family as he describes how the trauma of the Holocaust carried into the behavior of his parents and impacted upon his life. This is not always an easy read. But it is an essential one. It is also admirable.

— M. Graff – Media/Journalist (posted on NetGalley)

I deeply admire his honesty and preparedness to lay his life open in order to educate and help others.

This book covers the fascinating and neglected subject of inter-generational trauma linked to Holocaust survivors and does so in a brutally honest way. The author does not shy away from his own poor choices and behaviours, highlighting them and illustrating his understanding of how they impacted others. His observation about whether he would choose not to be born at all was deeply insightful and courageous. The Holocaust has had such lasting impacts on so many and this book shows the heroism as well as the price so many survivors paid. A fascinating and well written book. While I found the author and his decisions challenging, I deeply admire his honesty and preparedness to lay his life open in order to educate and help others.

— L. Gray – Reviewer (posted on NetGalley)

Experiencing Raff's life, as he wrote it, I was struck by how drawn in I was.

Little Boy, I Know Your Name is a heartbreaking memoir of a man who inherited the traumas of his Holocaust surviving family. Mitchell Raff paints a painful history of the chapters of his life growing up in the midst of the trauma's manifestations, including the physical abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother.

As a frequent reader of books with tough themes and topics, I'm finding myself struggling to digest what I read. This topic is so important and well-worth the read, but be sure to emotionally prepare yourself. Experiencing Raff's life, as he wrote it, I was struck by how drawn in I was, experiencing each memory to the fullest extent I'm able (as a reader). Wonderfully written, very complicated book that everyone must read. ** Don't skip the epilogue! It's crucial to tying together WHY Raff wanted to share his story!

— E. Ostrowitz-Levine – Reviewer (posted on NetGalley)

The themes of self-discovery, family betrayal, life, and death are beautifully portrayed in this memoir.

Little Boy, I Know Your Name: A Second-Generation Memoir from Inherited Holocaust Trauma by Mitchell Raff is an insightful, heart wrenching story of the author's life. Mitchell's father and mother both endured the unspeakable evils perpetuated on the Jews during the Holocaust. This left them ill-equipped to take on the challenge of parenting. For a while in his early years, his paternal aunt, Sally, and her husband, Issa, took him in and loved him as best as they could; they were also Holocaust survivors. At four years old, Mitchell was enticed to live with his mom and little sister. He soon regretted this decision. His mother physically and psychologically abused him. This trauma went on to affect every relationship Mitchell would have.

I enjoyed reading Little Boy, I Know Your Name by Mitchell Raff. The story was conveyed mainly in chronological order and was well-paced. Raff's writing style kept me in suspense, always wanting to know what would happen next. His childhood was filled with sad episodes that helped me connect emotionally not only with Mitchell, but also with his sister Regina (Malka), Issa, and Sally. Raff masterfully captured the essence of every person that he spoke about, no matter how small their contribution to the story. This included lovable family members, slimy in-laws, and racist classmates. Additionally, Raff relates his battle as an adult against drug and sex addiction tactfully. The themes of self-discovery, family betrayal, life, and death are beautifully portrayed in this memoir. I highly recommend Little Boy, I Know Your Name to all avid readers.

— J. Lynch – Reviewer (posted on Readers’ Favorite)

It's simultaneously heart wrenching and uplifting.

Little Boy, I Know Your Name is a thought-provoking memoir about inherited trauma. Mitchell Raff was born in Los Angeles in January 1959 to parents who experienced the Second World War and the Holocaust. In this book, he describes what he endured growing up and the self-destructive ways he would find himself relying on as an adult. Like many Holocaust survivors, Mitchell's uncle, aunt, father, and mother chose to stay silent and suppress the horrors that the Holocaust unleashed on them and millions of other Jews. When Mitchell was four years old, at the insistence of his abusive mother, he left his second set of parents, his aunt and uncle, whom he loved very much, to live with his mother and his half-sister. Thus, with an absent father and a disturbed mother, he learned what instability, fear, physical and emotional abuse, poverty, dissociation, and humiliation felt like.

Little Boy, I Know Your Name is a profoundly impactful book. Mitchell Raff offers a brutally honest look at the harsh reality of inherited trauma, addiction, and the road to recovery. This incredible true story helps the reader better understand why some people act out and how trauma can affect our lives and those around us. It's simultaneously heart wrenching and uplifting. It inspires and gives hope to those who struggle with sexual addiction, substance abuse, self-loathing, failed relationships, and loneliness. I'm impressed with the author's ability to write honestly and authentically about the traumatic events he endured throughout his life. This devastating story of a second-generation Holocaust survivor is well worth reading. It focuses on loss, depression, the need to be loved, hope, and the importance of therapy.

— E. Megan – Reviewer (posted on Readers’ Favorite)

Raff's memoir is ultimately a testament to the power of healing and resilience…

Little Boy, I Know Your Name: A Second-Generation Memoir from Inherited Holocaust Trauma is a work of non-fiction in the autobiographical writing, sociocultural issues, and family issues subgenres. It is best suited to the adult reading audience owing to difficult subject matter such as sexual trauma and child abuse. Penned by author Mitchell Raff, the author vividly recounts the manifestations of inherited Holocaust trauma through his parents' experiences, his mother's abuse, his father's sorrow, and the struggles of his extended family members. He narrates his traumatic childhood, marked by abandonment, abuse, and a search for identity amidst the shadows of his mother's actions. Reflecting on his adult life, Raff recognizes the profound impact of the trauma, evident in his struggles with addiction, self-loathing, and despair.

Author Mitchell Raff has crafted a powerful memoir that holds nothing back, approaching life with a raw perspective that balances the beauty and tragedy of life in a poignant juxtaposition. Despite the darkness of his past, Raff's memoir is ultimately a testament to the power of healing and resilience, and he allows readers to get into his psychology and emotional processing at the most crucial moments of his development. Through his journey of transformation, he confronts and names the inherited trauma, offering hope and insight for others grappling with similar struggles. The structure of the work reflects the journey well and offers a highly readable experience as a result. Overall, I would certainly recommend Little Boy, I Know Your Name as an eye-opening work and a must-read for those seeking compelling narratives of trauma, healing, and the resilience of the human spirit.

— K.C. Finn – Reviewer (posted on Readers’ Favorite)

It contains vital lessons that can transform your life and help you reflect on your actions.

Little Boy, I Know Your Name is an emotional memoir by Mitchell Raff that highlights how trauma can be inherited and affect future generations. Mitchell narrates how he was raised by his abusive mother, emotionally absent father, and caring aunt and uncle, who all were survivors of the Holocaust. Despite leaving the grasp of his abusive mother, he was haunted by unresolved emotions that continued tormenting him into adult life, leading to sexual addiction and drug use. His marriage crumbled, and the final blow was his son’s delinquency and death. Throughout the book, he talks about his therapy and the discussions that helped him trace the roots of his trauma. Join Mitchell on his journey as he seeks healing and inner peace.

Little Boy, I Know Your Name is a powerful story that captivates your heart and immerses you in Mitchell Raff’s world, allowing you to experience his emotions and journey. His raw honesty and vulnerability in his writing make it a deeply impactful read that stays with you even after you finish the book. It contains vital lessons that can transform your life and help you reflect on your actions. It also highlights the effects of suppressing trauma and how it can manifest in the most unexpected ways. Mitchell draws comparisons to his parents' trauma, explaining the similarities, like how he forgot that he had shown his uncle the wounds from his mother’s beating and how his mother blocked out her experience of hiding in a barn during the Holocaust. The narration is suspenseful, as he provides little hints about his life before fully disclosing them. The book is divided into different parts, which makes it organized and easy to follow. It is a must-read for those on their journey of self-discovery.

— L. Nyakansaila – Reviewer (posted on Readers’ Favorite)

Inspiring message of love, healing, and growth…

At age four, Mitchell Raff met his biological mother for the first time, behind the fence of his elementary school. This incident would forever change his life because her first words to him were, "Little boy, I know your name," which is the title of his profound memoir. Mitchell grew up with a family that had trauma from the Holocaust. His father was crippled by it, his mother expressed it with anger, and his loving Aunt Sally and Uncle Issa chose not to talk about it. Unfortunately, the effects manifested in their lives and consequently in Mitchell’s life, from custody battles to his choice of a partner, sex life, and identity as a Jew. His life began to unravel due to his experiences and trauma.

Little Boy, I Know Your Name is an emotional story that captivated me from start to finish. Mitchell Raff’s life is a memorable one that I will reflect on for many years. His easy narration and calm tone are vital to the storytelling because most of the incidents mentioned in this book will make your blood boil. The story contains triggering topics such as child neglect, and physical, mental, and sexual abuse. Nevertheless, it is worth reading because of its inspiring message of love, healing, and growth. The author’s journey will remind someone going through dark moments that they are not alone. The book is well-written, with humor laced into the tense moments. I loved reading Mitchell’s story and appreciate that he shared it with the world. Overall, this is great work.

— D. Chombu – Reviewer (posted on Readers’ Favorite)

A story of breaking cycles for ourselves and for those who come after us.

LITTLE BOY, I KNOW YOUR NAME - is a challenging read. The raw emotion in the pages as the narrative exposes the pain of inherited trauma is, at times, visceral and uncomfortable. The missed chances for healing, the doors closed by death and distance, the 'almost' of too many loves - I'm not gonna lie - make this book a pathetic drama in the mode of Greek Theatre - tragedies that you cannot change and cannot look away from.

And yet, somehow, Raff manages to survive and eventually thrive. This account of that process is through years of therapy, self-examination, and, most importantly, through engagement with the world at large rings of hope.

This book is for anyone who has felt hopeless or locked into unhealthy choices and bitter legacies. It is a story of breaking cycles for ourselves and for those who come after us.

Disclosure: I was an early writer/interviewer for this book. Today, I crossed a career milestone—a project I was part of, which developed into a book long after my involvement was completed and manifested into an actual physical object I can hold and read—weird and gloriously cool!

Full disclosure: I spent nearly two years of my life meeting with Mitch twice weekly, sitting on his couch and asking probing questions, digging into the family dynamics, the pain and the joy, the successes and the setbacks. In all that time, there was a sense of this thing that might become - this book that could translate the complicated story of his life into pages that could give others hope. Seeing how he turned our sessions' raw recordings into such a powerful narrative is a great joy.

— E. Louise, Author (posted on Goodreads)

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