viernes, septiembre 12, 2014

Author´s Note from "Waldek" the boy who defied the Nazis

I wrote this novel at the request of its protagonist and my husband, Waldek Grode. I must confess I was not prepared to do so, however it was his wish and in 2000, I started to think seriously about the possibility of telling his life story. Many a time opportunity and circumstances conspire to turn things into reality. Just around that time we received a letter from the German Government. It stated my husband was entitled to receive payment for the years worked as a slave laborer in the Gusen concentration camp, and in Mauthausen, for the Messerschmidt manufacturing company. Waldek was also in Auschwitz but as a prisoner, and would not receive any compensation. Since my husband had been thinking of traveling to Poland to visit his mother, he took the opportunity to retrieve the needed documentation and present it at the United Nations Repatriation and Refugee offices in Geneva. As it turned out, that journey cost him the equivalent to what he would receive as payment in the following years.
 
It was not an easy story to write. For starters, it took countless nights of long, painful conversations in which Waldek opened his heart while I took copious notes. He told me about his wishes, his desires, his first loves and first disappointments. And although he carried his feelings pent up for over almost sixty years, I was able to get in through a cranny and faithfully extract his life experiences. All during these heartfelt confessions, I got to know the man I had lived with for so many years, thirty-eight at that time, and realized I had only known him on the surface. I admired him more than ever and fell in love with him, once again. The courage and bravery he displayed all through his childhood, adolescence, and youth made me see him from a different angle.

I also wish to make it very clear that I am not part of this book. In the first version, yes, I did include myself. But the publisher who read the manuscript thought the details of how the story was obtained to be of no importance nor interest to the reader. Therefore, I rewrote the last part in its entirety. However, it must be said that until his last day, the life of my husband ran parallel to a life of fiction. There are those out there who do not believe such number of tribulations can happen to one person. And I know that as a rule, they do not happen to the majority of people, but they certainly did happen to Waldek. Others question his physical presence in New York at the time of the Twin Towers’ attack. He was there. He had just returned from Geneva, and I still have in my possession the airplane tickets and the hotel invoice. 

Waldek was a very strong man, the type who could flatten someone’s nose with his enormous fists. When the elevators malfunctioned at the building where I had my haute couture shop, he could and at seventy years of age climb sixteen flights of stairs without losing his breath and with a cigarette in his lips. He belonged to a generation of men who were survivors of the worst type of punishment. But there are illnesses and attitudes that do not forgive, and one of them carried him to his death. It was lung cancer caused by a long life as an inveterate smoker that ended the life of a man who had much in store to give to the world. 

I am very glad he lived to see the fulfillment of his dream: Roca Editorial first published the novel in January 2008. By the way, this was not the same publishing house which read the original manuscript that included me, but that version kept the exclusion. And this is how the novel was published.
I dedicate this book to Waldek, my personal, unforgettable character. Wherever he is now, I am sure he can see how many people around the world learn about his incredible life experiences. And that`s what he always wanted. 
 
I am very grateful to all of those who have noticed this work. And I truly hope you will not be disappointed.

Blanca Miosi