Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A few more days

The archives in Poland confirmed they have mailed the photocopied prison files..  Each day I walk to our mailbox and hold my breath before I pull down the lid, reach in  and slip out our mail, looking for a large envelope, its contents possibly revealing all, or perhaps, nothing new.  It's still not here today.

 Ironically, the US Holocaust Museum recently acquired prison files from Radom.  They searched for me and found only  the cover of "our" files with a reference number, because they were not processed as Jews, being arrested on false papers.   I found this surprising, because my Grandmother told me that the police had ways to find out if they were Jewish. She remembered during the chaos and fear of their arrests that the Polish police ordered her husband to..."be inspected" ..demanding that he drop his pants. I cannot imagine their anger and loss of hope after being on the run for four years.

So, I wait for the documents.  Each morning I climb the stairs to my writing studio carrying my espresso, Kimball my sweet dog right behind me.   She tucks into her bed or spreads out on the sofa and waits while I write.  Some days are easier than others and the words flow.  Other days I might finish one paragraph and feel as if this project will take years and years.  Some days I research and I don't write anything.
The Studio.   Dog: Kimball.  Sofa:  Ikea.

Before lunch, Kimball and I usually walk for at least an hour. I've learned you can only sit and write for so long before you need a break.   We wander the trails  beyond our house, and I think I am the luckiest person in the world to live here.   Sometimes we swim in the river, other days we visit our baby swans to see if they have shed their brown feathers and become adults, with responsibilities and places to go.

At the end of each day, my dear husband waits for me to share the days discoveries.   Sometimes he reads what I've written and gives me constructive feedback.   Mostly, he encourages me fervently to keep going, to stop worrying about work and career, to finish the important task I have started.

Friday, August 17, 2012


I'm humbled by the work of historians and archivists who painstakingly stitch together what happened in the past so we can all make sense of the future.  I couldn't undertake this project without them.    A large part of my writing day is spent searching online for answers to my hundreds of questions, trying to uncover the truth,  hunting for fragments, looking for people  I know existed -  some whose names I know, others nameless,  whose memories I must keep alive through their heroic actions.  Some I find. Others who were fathers, sisters, brothers to someone but now may only be dust  in the ground, I cannot find.  They are the forgotten ones I want to bring back.    I wished I had asked more questions when my grandparents were alive, but then , I may not have received answers.

Online I "met"  a Professor in Israel who had some intriguing information on Mietek (my grandfather by adoption) and Zdislaw (my birth grandfather who my mother discovered later in her life).  The Professor was most helpful and sent me a fragment of critical information that is leading me closer to finding the Nazi I'm looking for, the one who saved their lives and my mothers life.
The Nazi has a story, but no name, yet.   I know much about him, but so very little.  His deeds as an SS commander ranged from horrific and evil, to the  humaneness  he showed only to my family, for some reason.

 Thanks to Google, the Professor in Israel,  people she connected me to, the archives at Harvard, Yale, Yad Vashem, the US Holocaust Museum and more, I may be close.   Now I wait.  And wait.   I wired money to Poland to obtain the finally found prison files.   In those files is my last hope of finding the name of the man who stopped, took a breath , and for some reason did not kill.  He chose instead to preserve and give life.