My desire to have that narrative was no different from my grandfather’s desire to believe the stories about the Jewish neighbor or the Polish maid. Both were motivated by a need for a story that, however ugly, would give their deaths some meaning–that would make their deaths be about something. Jack Greene told me something else that night: that like Shmiel, his own parents had been hoping to get their family to safety, hoping to get visas; but that by 1939 the waiting list for papers was six years long. (And by then, he said, everyone was already dead.) Because I am a sentimental person, I would like to think–we will, of course, never know–that my grandfather and his siblings did everything they could for Shmiel and his family. What we do know is that by 1939, nothing they could have done would have saved them.
– The Lost: A search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn
(This book is the story of a great nephews search for his great uncle, aunt, and cousins who did not survive the Holocaust.)