The only one I know by name is Peter Klein (though he may have had a different first name).

The first and only story about Peter ends, “Hitler got him.”

Peter was one of several brothers who came from Hungary to the U.S. in the early 20th century, many of them via a “family club,” which met regularly and pooled money to bring relatives over one by one.

It was Peter’s turn. Peter had a girlfriend. She was pregnant. Peter said, “I’m going to the U.S.” Peter’s girlfriend’s father said, “No, you aren’t.”

And Hitler got him.

Peter’s brother Martin was my grandfather. Martin has been dead since 1971. There is only one other relative alive who might know more about Martin, and she’s an in-law.

My generation is the last who knows this story, though I’ve probably told my kids. They have little interest in generations before them unless they’ve met them, and even then, maybe not so much.

I tend to be deeply interested in the dead who came before me, especially in my link to history. I have a shoebox full of correspondence between a genetic dead end and a forebear of my grandmother’s who fought in the Civil War, as did my husband’s great-grandfather. He died not in the war but after the war while digging a well.

As I type this in pixels on a screen, I wonder what the shoeboxes of the future are. I wonder who the purveyors of the stories are. And I wonder if I can make my kids care.