Klempner, Mark 1955–

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Klempner, Mark 1955–

PERSONAL: Born 1955; married; children: one son. Education: Cornell University, A.B., 1997; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, M.A., 2000.

ADDRESSES: Home and office—Apartado 296-4013, Atenas de Alajuela, Costa Rica.

CAREER: Folklorist, oral historian, journalist, and public speaker. Worked as a professional musician for over twenty years; has appeared as a commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition.

MEMBER: Phi Beta Kappa.

AWARDS, HONORS: J. William Fulbright Award; Robinson-Appel Humanitarian Award; Conger Wood Research Fellowship; Cornell Tradition Fellow.


The Heart Has Reasons: Holocaust Rescuers and Their Stories of Courage, Pilgrim Press (Cleveland, OH), 2006.

Contributor to books, including The Oral History Reader, 2nd edition, edited by Robert Perks and Alistair Thomson, Routledge (Oxford, England), 2006; also contributor to journals and periodicals, including Tikkun, National Catholic Reporter, News & Observer, Oral History Review, and Historia y Fuente Oral.

SIDELIGHTS: Mark Klempner is an oral historian and folklorist. In 1996 he received a grant to travel to the Netherlands and interview Dutch people who had rescued Jewish children during the Nazi occupation. He recorded the testimony of dozens of these common citizens who shared with him their tales of heroism and hardships. Klempner was quoted in the Cornell Chronicle online as saying: "The experience of interviewing the rescuers was surprisingly upbeat…. They were incredibly warm and gracious, and being welcomed into their homes and having the chance to talk with them was an experience that changed my life." Klempner profiles ten of these individuals in his first book, The Heart Has Reasons: Holocaust Rescuers and Their Stories of Courage, published in 2006. The book interweaves the rescuers' stories with the author's own account of the impact that meeting them had on him. Klempner's father was a Jewish child who escaped to the United States one week before the Nazi invasion of Poland. Each chapter of the book begins with a particular rescuer narrative, followed by a question-and-answer section in which Klempner explores that rescuer's current values and convictions. Klempner sometimes includes anecdotes of his encounters with the rescuers or personal sections discussing what those encounters have meant to him.

A critic in Publishers Weekly disliked the duality of the book's focus, claiming that "the narrative often shifts uncomfortably between a focus on the rescuers and the author's focus on himself." However, a Midwest Book Review contributor called the book "superbly presented" and "an important addition to … Holocaust literature." Additionally, Booklist reviewer George Cohen found that "these poignant stories shed light on one of the darkest episodes in the twentieth century."



Booklist, February 1, 2006, George Cohen, review of The Heart Has Reasons: Holocaust Rescuers and Their Stories of Courage, p. 18.

Library Journal, February 15, 2006, Daniel K. Blewett, review of The Heart Has Reasons, p. 132.

Midwest Book Review, July 9, 2006, review of The Heart Has Reasons.

News & Oberver, April 21, 2006, Yonat Shimron, "Tales of Courage Changed His Life."

Publishers Weekly, January 9, 2006, review of The Heart Has Reasons, p. 47.


Chronicle Online, Cornell University Web site, http://www.news.cornell.edu/ (May 22, 1997), Jill Goetz, "Mark Klempner Interviewed World War II Dutch Rescuers of Jews"; (April 17, 2006), Daniel Aloi, "Mark Klempner '97 to Talk about His Book of Dutch Holocaust Resuers' stories, The Heart Has Reasons."

Public Radio Exchange, http://www.prx.org/ (April 15, 2006), Chris Goldstein, interview with author.

Heart Has Reasons Home Page, http://www.hearthasreasons.com (April 18, 2006).