Ted Blum

A grandson learns about his family’s harrowing history.

Ted Blum

Ted Blum’s pile of family documents, passports, visas, photographs and more had been growing for years, and it wasn’t until COVID came that he had time to sort through them. “I kept saying, ‘Someday, I’m going to do something with all this,’” Blum says. “Then when so much of the civic and charitable work I do was put on hold, I had a lot of extra time. I got bored streaming every Netflix and Amazon show, so I holed up in my study and started digging into the past.”

What the Sandy Springs attorney uncovered in the scattered collection of papers, pictures and recordings was a story so gripping, Blum was moved to write it down in a book called Calculated Risks. “I had never written or intended to write a book,” says the managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig’s Atlanta office in Buckhead. “This book found me.”

Calculated Risks by Ted BlumThe story centers around the harrowing experiences of his Jewish grandparents as they escaped Nazi-occupied Europe. In 1941, his mother’s family left Budapest and traveled through Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain and Portugal before arriving in the U.S. and finally settling in Champaign, Illinois. His father’s family had a similar tale.

“These were people who had to make impossible life-and-death decisions for their families, and that drove the trajectory in the story,” Blum says. “Their circumstances were dire, but by taking risks they made those circumstances more promising. And the more I dug into their story, the more impressed I was with how steadily they overcame the obstacles.”

Learning about his family’s past brought him closer to relatives he never knew.

“My father’s father died before I was born, so I got to know him from stories my dad shared,” Blum says. “I felt close to him but didn’t know why, then I realized it was because of the power of those stories. That’s what made me want to bring them to the next generation and the greater world.”

The project also provided an escape while the world was shut down. “I felt as if I was also traveling. I was cooped up in Atlanta, but I was researching Hungary, Italy, Paris, Madrid—all these places it turns out my ancestors traveled through. I was traveling the world while getting to know my family and the sacrifices they made.”

Over the last few years, Blum has made the trip in person to walk in his family’s footsteps across Europe. In Budapest, he visited his grandparents’ home and the town in Croatia where his mother was born.

“I found an intergenerational connectivity between people who lived 100 years ago and my life,” he says. “There’s an attachment to their experiences and mine. Knowing where they were and the roots of their experiences gives me a foundation that grounds me. And it makes me think about how to pay it forward for the next generation.”

Part of paying it forward is the book that debuted last fall. “I need to be a transmitter of stories so, one day, my future grandchildren can know them. And those stories will have the same positive impact on their lives.”


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