Saturday, June 29, 2013

Why History is the Agreed Upon Lie by Uvi Poznansky Author of Apart From Love, Home, A Favorite Son, and Twisted

Uvi Poznansky's photo.History is written by the winners. They make sure to remove that version of history that belongs to the losers. David, the young entertainer coming to play his lyre in king Saul’s court, makes this point in my upcoming book:
“Hung on the wall is an shiny iron shield. I brush my fingers over the sharp ridges of the engraved inscription, trying to figure it out by  my touch. It says, The House of Saul. To a naive observer it may seem like an emblem of a highly respected ancestry—but as everyone around the country knows, Saul has no royal blood in his veins. He is the son of Kish, a lowly farmer who owns but a few asses. In his youth Saul used to tend to these stubborn animals. He may long for those carefree days, but word on the street is that he did a lousy job, because the asses got lost more often than not. Everyone hopes and prays that he will do better as a king. The worst part is, his family comes from a tribe of ill-repute. The tribe of Benjamin is known to be nothing but a rowdy mob, notorious for an insatiable appetite for rape and murder, for which it was severely punished. In a fierce civil war, it was nearly wiped out —not so long ago—by the other tribes. For the life of me I cannot figure why the first king of Israel should be picked from the poor, the downtrodden. It is a questionable political decision, but perhaps it is better this way. In the back of his mind, Saul should know his humble beginnings. All of which makes this emblem quite pretentious. But who cares? By instinct I get it, I understand his need to display the thing, because this is the way to create history, when none is available.”
Even when the winner’s version of history makes it to the books, it is modified by later generations, adding layers upon layers of interpretation. So when I select old yarn to give it a new twist, I always focus on the human aspect: my biblically-inspired characters are no heroes. They are modern man and women, who at times find the courage to do heroic acts; at times they are besieged by emotions of grief, jealousy, or
overwhelming passion; and always, they ponder who they are with the doubts and hesitations that are familiar to all of us.
So here, for example, is what Yankle--the main character in my book A Favorite Son, inspired by the biblical figure of Jacob--says about who he is.
“I like to think of myself as a modern man. A confused one. One left to his own devices, because of one thing: The silence of God. When Isaac, my father, laid on his deathbed, waiting for me, or rather, for his favorite son to come in, he suspected, somehow, that he was about to be fooled. And yet, God kept silent. Now, all these years later, I wonder about it. God did not help the old man. He gave no warning to him; not one whisper in his ear, not a single clue. Now as then, He is utterly still, and will not alert me when my time comes; when they, my sons, flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood, are ready to face me; to fool their old man.

Image of Uvi Poznansky

Uvi Poznansky is a California-based author, poet and artist.
She earned her B. A. in Architecture and Town Planning from the Technion in Haifa, Israel. During her studies and in the years immediately following her graduation, she practiced with an innovative Architectural firm, taking a major part in the large-scale project, 'Home for the Soldier'; a controversial design that sparked fierce public debate.
At the age of 25 Uvi moved to Troy, N.Y. with her husband and two children. Before long, she received a Fellowship grant and a Teaching Assistantship from the Architecture department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she guided teams in a variety of design projects; and where she earned her M.A. in Architecture. Then, taking a sharp turn in her education, she earned her M.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of Michigan.
During the years she spent in advancing her career--first as an architect, and later as a software engineer, software team leader, software manager and a software consultant (with an emphasis on user interface for medical instruments devices)--she wrote and painted constantly, and exhibited in Israel and California. In addition, she taught art appreciation classes. Her versatile body of work can be seen online at It includes bronze and ceramic sculptures, oil and watercolor paintings, charcoal, pen and pencil drawings, and mixed media.
Uvi published two children books, Jess and Wiggle and Now I Am Paper. For each one of these books, she created an animation video (see Author Videos at the bottom of this page.)
She won great acclaim for her novel, Apart From Love, published February 2012 and for her poetry book, Home (in tribute to her father, the poet and writer Zeev Kachel) published September 2012. ~ AuthorPage ~Uvi Poznansky

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

SHADOWS OF THE PAST by Carmen Stefanescu

Anne's relationship with her boyfriend Neil has disintegrated. After a two-year separation, they pack for a week vacation in hopes of reconciling. But fate has other plans for them.

The discovery of a bejeweled cross and ancient human bones opens a door to a new and frightening world--one where the ghost of a medieval nun named Genevieve will not let Anne rest. This new world threatens not only to ruin Anne and Neil's vacation but to end all hopes of reconciliation as Anne feels compelled to help free Genevieve's soul from its torment.

Can Anne save her relationship and help Genevieve find her eternal rest?

The twists and turns in this paranormal tale keep the reader guessing up to the end and weave themselves together into a quest to rekindle love.



"Come, we should leave at once," she said and glanced nervously over her shoulder. "Something terrible happened after you left for town. I think the Abbess found out about us. Our meeting in Uncle Ryan's cabin is no longer a secret. We have been overheard. For all I know someone spies on us even as we speak. I think the Abbess, or one of her 'friends,' is hovering somewhere nearby and listening to every word."

Andrew pulled Genevieve to his chest. "Do you regret you've come with me?"

Passion smothered Genevieve's doubt and guilt. "Never," she answered, aware of her body's response to his touch, and she succumbed to his embrace.

With her eyes closed and their bodies touching she became, for the very first time, simply a woman. She melted in his embrace in spite of the invisible vicious threat breathing around them. Aware they might never be alone again, she fought hard to silence the voice of conscience berating her.

"Oh, God. Please forgive me," Andrew muttered under his breath when he bowed his head to kiss her. Their lips met in a passionate first kiss.

Genevieve's spirits fell and her heart skipped a beat when, a couple of seconds later, she opened her eyes and her gaze fell on a knot strangers.

                             … . . .


            Tears welled in Anne's eyes, blurring her vision. She couldn’t explain them, or the sudden sadness seeping into her heart. This should’ve been a moment of happiness or, at least, contentment. She was with Neil again, and the outcome of their trip together should, very likely, bring their reconciliation. Why then did she seem detached from where she stood?

Anne shivered. Why the deep feeling of having seen this place, this forest before? And why the eerie sensation of being present here only in the body, while her mind was far away?

Away from the forest.

Away from Neil, the man who'd betrayed her trust and her love.

            An onrush of sensations unfamiliar to her followed. Dizziness and a malevolent feeling of unreality suffocated her.

Anne edged cautiously closer to the rim of the bare cliff. Her foot tapped the edge. It seemed solid. She stared into the darkness of the abyss at her feet. It echoed the shadows in her heart.  An unusual curiosity took hold of her. Should she step ahead? What was down there? Other human bones? Another mystery? The presence of evil, creeping up and enveloping her, became almost palpable. The vines of fog folded around her, dragging her to the depth. Her throat turned dry, and she gasped for air.

Megan's face contorted, the voice no longer pleasant. A hoarse gurgle, spluttering distorted words, "Yes, come... I'm waiting... I've been waiting for you for such a long time..."

Connect with Carmen Stefanescu's @

Blog Author Page for Carmen-Stefanescu




Buy Link: Wild Child Publishing


Barnes & Noble


            Carmen Stefanescu was born in Romania, the native country of the infamous vampire Count Dracula, but where, for about 50 years of communist dictatorship, just speaking about God, faith, reincarnation or paranormal phenomena could have led someone to great trouble - the psychiatric hospital if not to prison.
            Teacher of English and German in her native country and mother of two daughters, Carmen Stefanescu survived the grim years of oppression, by escaping in a parallel world, that of the books. 

            She has dreamed all her life to become a writer, but many of the things she wrote during those years remained just drawer projects. The fall of the Ceausescu’s regime in 1989 and the opening of the country to the world meant a new beginning for her. She started publishing. Poems first, and then prose. Both in English.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

From Romania this week CARMEN STEFANESCU

  "History is a lie agreed upon." I will not disprove the statement. On the contrary. I will add to it another one, which is: "History is written by the victors." In my opinion, it will never cease to be that way. That doesn't mean they lie outright. The events themselves usually don't change, but the motives behind these events often get twisted, either deliberately, or through genuine misunderstanding. We are inculcated with what the masters of the humankind, whoever they may be, depending in what part of the world we live, want us to acknowledge as THE TRUTH. The victors are the ones putting out the 'facts'; they are controlling the means and the amount of information streamed to the masses.
            It's happened starting with the ancient times, with the Bible writings, (another form of history), up to the present day times. I don't want to enter a political debate or stir feathers of any kind but, take my word, not everything we take for granted is the truth and nothing but the truth.
            And, all through our life there's an infinite number of things we take for granted.  Things that we consider can't be different from what we came to acknowledge as fact. While many of you, people living in the western world, took for granted that Communism was only evil and Capitalism was "rags to riches", many of us living behind the Iron Curtain, in Europe, were inculcated with the concepts that Communism was the ideal society and Capitalism was the evil one. It seems we were both misinformed.
Things are never only white or only black. I think that the truth is in the shade of gray. Both systems are ways of life. For some they mean heaven, for others they mean hell.
             I can truly say I've lived history, as until 1989 my country, Romania, was closed behind the Iron Curtain that cast a chilling shadow over us. And, like millions of others in my generation I have grown to maturity in this numb world. I can look back on it now without emotion and consider the fall of the Iron Curtain for what it was, the culmination of decades of history, the final chapter of World War II and perhaps the 20th century itself.  For much of its history, the population of my country did not know what was going on past their own neighborhood, didn't much care; life went on. All of a sudden they saw what was going on in the world and they were energized.
             Many things have changed since 1989. And not the way we hoped for. I wonder how History will describe all this transition from a system to the other in a hundred years' time. Our grandchildren will ask questions whose answers will be alien to them.
            The quote "History is a lie agreed upon," means in my opinion that history isn't necessarily true but it's a compromise between conflicting reports. That's why it's better to use your judgment while reading and researching certain aspects of history. You may discover that what you consider reliable sources are not so reliable after all. Read more points of view, if possible, to come to an approximate conclusion. I did it while researching for my novels Shadows of the Past and Dracula's Mistress. Both dealing with medieval times. Regarding Dracula's Mistress, as I am a native of his country, I had available both Romanian and foreign reports on Walachia and Vlad III Basarab. And I found discrepancies in some of the sources though at first sight they seem extremely reliable.
Author bio:
            Carmen Stefanescu was born in Romania, the native country of the infamous vampire Count Dracula, but where, for about 50 years of communist dictatorship, just speaking about God, faith, reincarnation or paranormal phenomena could have led someone to great trouble - the psychiatric hospital if not to prison.
            Teacher of English and German in her native country and mother of two daughters, Carmen Stefanescu survived the grim years of oppression, by escaping in a parallel world, that of the books. 
            She has dreamed all her life to become a writer, but many of the things she wrote during those years remained just drawer projects. The fall of the Ceausescu’s regime in 1989 and the opening of the country to the world meant a new beginning for her. She started publishing. Poems first, and then prose. Both in English.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

THE BONE CHURCH a novel by Victoria Dougerty

The Bone Church

After secretly witnessing the murder of his father at the hands of a Nazi thug, Czech hockey star Felix Andel sets his sights on revenge.  Soon Felix and his half-Jewish lover, Magdalena Ruza, become embroiled in a Prague Underground plot to assassinate the man who ordered the hit on his father:  Hitler’s nefarious Minister of Propaganda, Josef Goebbels.

But in the surreal and paranoid underworld of wartime Prague, Felix and Magdalena must forge unlikely alliances in their quest—with a mysterious Roman Catholic Cardinal, a reckless sculptor intent on making a big political statement, and a gypsy with a dangerous sex life. 

When the assassination attempt against Goebbels goes wildly wrong, fierce historical winds blow the lovers in separate directions.  Critically wounded and slipping into a fog of extraordinary visions, Felix’s destiny is sealed at The Bone Church, a mystical pilgrimage site on the outskirts of Prague where he experiences a religious conversion.  Magdalena, abandoned by the Cardinal who promised her safe passage out of the country, goes deep into hiding lest she be rounded up and transported to Auschwitz.  

Twelve years pass. 

Felix, now a Jesuit priest, is an emissary for people in trouble.  From Vienna, he runs a Vatican-financed operation that smuggles prominent dissidents out of Soviet-occupied countries.  Only this time, it’s Magdalena who needs his help.  After a long exile in various political prisons, she turns up in a bleak corner of the Czech countryside – disgraced, impoverished and struggling to stay alive.  Felix’s superior in Rome, the Cardinal who betrayed Magdalena, reluctantly dispatches him to collect her. 

 With government security forces closing in around them as they run for the border, the émigré priest is forced to confront his past…and the fragility of his faith.  

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Truth, Beer, and History’s Massive Tailwind

In the late 1990s I wrote a novella that chronicled the life of a teen-age boy who was the product of a one night stand between an African-American soldier and a Czech mother during the liberation of Pilsen in 1945.  His story was complex, as he was growing up in Czechoslovakia in the midst of hard-line Stalinist oppression.
I never published it and it’s still sitting in a drawer somewhere.  To be honest, it’s probably not very good.  But the story that inspired it is, and I wanted to share it with my friend Catalina, who herself has a great appreciation for history and all its quirks. 
By Victoria Dougherty
In 1995 I had the good fortune to accompany a Czech film crew to a celebration commemorating the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the city of Pilsen, Czech Republic by us Americans. 
 It was a joyous event filled with music, great beer (it is the town of Pilsen, after all, where the name Pilsner comes from), hearty food (dumplings, anyone?), and scores of veterans from all the world over.  Freedom was new to that part of the world, and it still felt like a dream.  The way it must feel in the aftermath of winning the lottery.  
About an hour into the merriment, parade watching, and copious beer drinking, I realized that if I didn’t find a bathroom, things might get ugly.
I ran into what I think was a welcome center and was immediately pointed in the direction of a clean, unisex toilet by a kindly woman manning a beer tap.
When I emerged, I figured I could use another beer, so I went over to the woman at the tap and started digging some coins out of my pocket.
“No, no,” she said, and handed me the beer free of charge.  “Sit down.” 
She offered me a platter studded with several rows of Topinky, which is basically the Czech version of bruschetta:  slices of rye bread fried in lard, spread with a thick layer of lard (think cream cheese on a bagel), and topped with diced raw onions and a sprinkle of salt and paprika.
“You’re American, so you’re used to the truth,” she said between bites of Topinky.  She pointed outside at the celebration.  “But for us, you can see it’s still a luxury.” 
And that’s when she told me her story. 
It so happened that of the American troops that liberated Pilsen, at least one was an African-American regiment.  In the wild revelry that lasted for days after the citizens of Pilsen were finally freed from the Nazis… well, let’s just say there were a lot of very grateful Czech women and a lot of handsome men in uniform around.  Not to mention fountains of really great beer to fuel the fire.   My new beer wench friend happened to be one of those grateful women, and about nine months after the partying died down, she gave birth to a beautiful, brown baby boy.
Now, what was then Czechoslovakia didn’t have the same kind of racial baggage that we had over here in the United States.  People of color (unless you were a gypsy) really were just that, and garnered stares only because they were exotic.  So, while an unwed mother was still a bit of a scandal back in the mid to late 1940s, the fact that the child was dark skinned was neither here nor there. 
Except for one little problem. 
Once the Soviets took over the country, they took over the country’s history as well and declared that it was in fact the Russians – not the Americans – who liberated Pilsen.  Contradicting this new truth carried some pretty heavy consequences, which left my new friend in a pickle:  fair-skinned babies could be explained away easily, but the dark ones gave new meaning to the ethnic term “Black Russian.”
“So, what happened?” I asked.
“At first I was scared they might take my son.  You know, disappear him,” she said.  “But it was funny.  Instead, people started to pretend he looked like everyone else.   I met my husband a couple of years after the war and people would go out of their way to tell me how much my dark son looked like my husband and our other children.  Even people who knew.  It was crazy.  Without talking about it, everyone began to lie.”
She started to wonder if she had imagined making love to an African American soldier and pondered other reasons that could explain her son’s skin color.  Maybe her child had inherited a recessive gene?
“At times,” she said.  “I really thought I was going crazy.  Even my husband started going along with it.”
One thing kept her sanity.
She was walking in the market with her son the first time it happened.  He was little – maybe four or five – and right in front of her at a fruit stall, she spied a little boy just like hers:  the same age, the same color.  The other boy’s mother saw them, too.
“What did you do?” I asked her.
She told me that she and the other mother smiled at each other and went their separate ways.  It was too dangerous for them to start talking.  What they could say would only bring trouble.
And that wasn’t the only mother she encountered over the years.  There were a good handful in Pilsen, and when they saw each other on the street, they always smiled the satisfied smile of someone who knows the truth.  Not only was it proof positive that they weren’t crazy, but also a reminder that they were being ruled by lies and that there really was a better life out there.   A life without fear, invented histories, and hopelessness.  She told me she was very proud that the father of her child was American.
I guess it’s one of history’s little ironies that a dark skinned boy was a symbol of truth and hope in a totalitarian society, and one of oppression and bitterness left over from a Civil War and a slave trade in a free one.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that her son’s father went home to a segregated society.
But I did have the heart to tell her what I know to be true:  that as long as people are free to speak, things can change quickly.  Lies are contradicted - subject to a constant stream of information, bad policies are over-turned, even hearts and minds evolve.  
Victoria Dougherty
Victoria Dougherty Bio
Victoria Dougherty has for nearly twenty years distinguished herself as a master storyteller, writing fiction, poetry, drama, speeches, essays, and television news segments/video scripts. 
In Prague, Ms. Dougherty co-founded the acclaimed Black Box Theater, translating, producing and acting to sold-out audiences in several Czech plays – from Vaclav Havel’s riveting “Protest” to the unintentionally hilarious communist propaganda play “Karhan’s Men.”  Black Box Theater was profiled in feature articles in USA Today, International Herald Tribune, and numerous European publications.
Currently, Ms. Dougherty lives with her family in Charlottesville, VA, and her first novel, The Bone Church will be debuting summer 2013.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Paulette Mahurin on OUR VENTURA TV

Frontier Lesbians: Hatred/Intolerance vs. Love/Friendship

Saturday, June 8, 2013

An Essay On Understanding Oscar Wilde, A Metaphor: A Different Perspective On Homosexuality In History by Paulette Mahurin

Paulette MahurinWhile spotlights shine on same sex marriages and homophobia internationally and change is occurring at a reasonable pace, it took over a hundred years for the archaic Victorian law used to prosecute author Oscar Wilde to come under reform. The fact that so much time passed before said reform took effect fuels the flames of veracity as to what is accurate about Wilde, his case and homophobia at the time and from history from then till now. Passions obscure the strongest of historical facts when written through biased lenses and data are not readily available from the subjective parties’ perspective. In Wilde’s case there is ample documentation on his own personal perspective, which lends to a retrospective comparison of his view  (his defense while on trial and in his letter to his lover, De Profundis, while serving his prison sentence) and the view of society, including the press.  


First, it’s important to understand the history of homosexuality legality in Britain to understand the intensity of scrutiny and bias that Wilde incurred. Years before the formation of the United Kingdom, in 1707, Henry VIII pioneered The Buggery Act, 1533; it was the country’s first civil sodomy laws, punishable by hanging. Previously, homosexual offenses were dealt with in ecclesiastical courts. Since that time the Buggery Act has been repealed and re-enacted and repealed. Although the law changed and the death penalty was removed (Offences against the Person Act 1861), male homosexual acts remained illegal and were punishable by imprisonment. The Labouchere Amendment, of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, extended the laws regarding homosexuality to include any kind of sexual activity between males. Under this broad interpretation of Indecency, Oscar Wilde was tried, convicted and sentenced to two years of hard labor. Once his imprisonment hit the press, human emotion and sensationalism altered the course of history of homosexuality.


On April 7, 1895 The Salt Lake Herald published an article, Damaging Evidence Given which was similarly mirrored in the New York Times and other papers around the world that highlighted the immorality and sensationalism of the trial of Oscar Wilde for criminal activity, violating the law of Indecency. The first sentence in the article was a biased view which read and I quote, The Hero of Impulsive American and English Females Convicted of the Grossest Kind of Immorality Known to Civilized People… The article goes on to describe an action taken by Wilde to remove his hat as indolent and compares this as the way he was on the stand, generating an image of lazy uncaring defendant. The article mentions a witness on the stand, Alfred Woods, made comment that he wanted to get away from Wilde and people like him.


How did an article like this impact on the view of Wilde historically? The view of homosexuals in general? Prior to the trial and conviction of Oscar Wilde, homophobia was a whisper in drawing rooms; after which it was openly discussed with disdain and hostility.  Prior there existed a conservative tolerance toward people with a tendency toward an affinity preference of a male-to-male relationship, afterward homophobia flared. Wilde’s trial and conviction was a watershed time in history for an escalation of overt homophobia, fueled by biased press reporting and learned hatred.

     Wilde’s emotional defense, during his trial, (below) points out the very essence of the misrepresentation of homosexuality by our collective human nature, finding that which digresses or differs from our own preferences (whether made by the dogma of religious beliefs or societal conditioning) when he states: " 'The Love that dare not speak its name' in this country is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare. It is that deep, spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect . . . It is in this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as 'the Love that dare not speak its name', and on account of it I am placed where I am now. It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it, and it repeatedly exists between an elder and a younger man, when the elder has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him. That it should be so, the world does not understand. The world mocks at it and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it." Paulette Mahurin: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks ...The very fact that homosexuals were driven into the closet lends to the veracity of Wilde’s perspective. Can his defense be construed as hubris, vapid words without heartfelt meaning? Of course, but if one were to read what he wrote while in prison (De Profundis) to his lover the reader would see a humbled man, who overtly owns the hubris of which his personality, not his sexual orientation or actions found guilty of, was at fault. In what is a profound and poignant read from a man, broken in spirit, his life forever altered, one sees a truth, an authenticity of spirit, a view into what it is to be homosexual at a time when writers of same wanted to paint it very differently. Wilde was told by friends to lie about his inclination. To this he wrote:

When first I was put into prison some people advised me to try and forget who I was. It was ruinous advice. It is only by realizing what I am that I have found comfort of any kind. Now I am advised by others to try on my release to forget that I have ever been in a prison at all. I know that would be equally fatal. It would mean that I would always be haunted by an intolerable sense of disgrace, and that those things that are meant for me as much as for anybody else – the beauty of the sun and moon, the pageant of the seasons, the music of daybreak and the silence of great nights, the rain falling through the leaves, or the dew creeping over the grass and making it silver – would all be tainted for me, and lose their healing power, and their power of communicating joy. To regret one's own experiences is to arrest one's own development. To deny one's own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one's own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.

He goes on to write a tome on his experience prior to the trial and during, how he felt about his lover, his preference—his God given nature, his self-expressed hubris,

and arrogance that he felt responsible for his ruination, not because of a sexual preference but rather because of rubbing shoulders of those in power the wrong way and failing to cater to the powers that be. That he defended his own character and refused to cater or yield casts a different shadow on the whole debacle he lived through that broke his spirit. He was never allowed a life of freedom to be who he was born to be, after that, and fled England to live in France under a pseudonym to his death.


The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap by Paulette MahurinHistory looks back to Wilde as a criminal of indecency, but to what real crime did he commit and what impact did the biased reporting press have on this view? The consensus is very few see the man, the author of De Profundis, and only see a flamboyant effeminate who was a criminal, they do not see a man who dared to be who he was, despite biased from laws and the press and a large sector of the population he lives in, an untimely unfortunate historical twist, the odds against him. There is no mystery that history has been written from a biased perspective. When such a heated topic as homosexual behavior, condemned by religious and civil laws, when abhorrence exists through societal programming, and it is this same thought process that exists in the hand of the pen that writes the story, history or a non-fiction novel, how can one not question the veracity of bias? How can one not question the intolerance in ones own heart, that wants to believe what is different from what is?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Christoph Fichers on The Berlin Wall

From Bath, UK Christoph Fischer

Is history the agreed upon lie?
I must say that this is an excellent question and one that I have often thought about before writing historical novels.
When the Berlin Wall came down, the German press was full of Chancellor Kohl walking along a river with President Gorbachev and the myth was created that on this “walk-and-talk” only Kohl’s diplomatic skills led to the German reunification. Praise the hero and superman Kohl. But was it really likely that anyone wanted two separate German states or cared in the period that was Glasnost? At the times many bought into the story, after all, didn’t it sound nicer than the idea that Russia had no longer an interest in the broken satellite state? Still, the myth made its way to history books and has always slightly bothered me because in my view it was created for all the wrong reasons.
Berlin Wall
In my research for “The Luck of the Weissensteiners”, I came across quite a few sources that seemed politically coloured. One history book about Slovakia as a state from the middle ages to the presence only had a short chapter about the entire WWII era and it pretty much painted a whiter than white picture of Slovakia, an axis power at the time. Although it appears that the author didn’t even speak the language and had not researched within the country archives, there was no dispute about the book since it agreed with the polished version of events that many people in present day Slovakia would prefer to agree upon.
Archives have been destroyed by the axis powers, collaborators of Hitler managed to find their way back into the important positions, Communist regimes tried to white wash the former fascist past to bring the nation in line with its policy and many other factors might have come into play and make efficient research admittedly difficult. Let alone human sentiment and forgetfulness.
Mary Heimann learned Czech and did enormous research of her own for a book on Czechoslovakia as a state, but her findings are highly disputed, partially because they may not be totally waterproof and partially probably because they are painting a much less favourable picture of both Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
One example: Jews in Slovakia were safe for an extremely long time compared to other axis power states. The religious wing of the Fascist party claims credit for it. Others claim that the high price per head for each Jew that had to be paid to the German Reich had something to do with the reluctance of the then government to comply with Hitler’s demands.
Personal presidential exemption papers to save individual Jews from transportation allegedly were used in multiple thousands according to some sources but in much smaller numbers in others.
Admittedly, with so much original data destroyed and with such strong political and personal agendas to portray one’s country retrospectively, with eye witnesses dying away, who is to say which version is indeed true?
During my research for “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” I saw so many references made to the golden days of Vienna before WWI, the tolerant multi-cultural city and the Jew-friendly times. It was why I decided to set “Sebastian” in that period. My research for the new book however showed a much more complex and less favourable picture than I had anticipated. Particularly the work of Stefan Zweig, a Jew living in those times, challenges those assumptions strongly. Of course his work is mainly fiction and the history books can dismiss him easily as non-academic. So who do we believe?
Somewhere in my research a source wisely suggested that because of the horror that came twenty years later people’s memory changed their perception of the times and idealised the times in comparison, which makes a lot of sense.
The consequence for me as a writer is to keep checking data, to read all sides to a story and remember that history books are all relative when it comes to unquantifiable data. It is a continuous dispute and in most cases a wonderful challenge to think for yourself and maybe to find the occasional source material that brings in new light and aspects to what you think you knew.
73486647I tried in my books to use the controversy in my favour, to let different character make opposing statements, assumptions and predictions. Many of those characters didn’t have a television, radio or any type of reliable data to find out about what goes on beyond their own little corner of the world. And who can claim to have the comprehensive view, the complete information and can be sure to draw the right conclusions. All of this makes history exciting and a living process as long as it is not deliberately falsified. The line between misinterpretation and lie however are often more than blurred.

Sebastian cover
Other ‘historical novels” I can highly recommend:
The Bridge of Deaths by M.C.V. Egan
The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap by Paulette Mahurin
Until the Robin walks on Snow by Bernice L. Rocque
Sideshow at Honey Creek by Steven D. Malone
Rani of Rampur by Suneeta Misra
Chinese Laundries by John Jung
New Fire by Philip Dickinson
Of Kings and Queens by Suneeta Misra
Daughters of Iraq by Revital Shiri-Horowitz
Jazz Baby by Beem Weeks
Okatibbee Creek by Lori Crane
Huachuca Woman by Arletta Dawdy
By Grace by Arletta Dawdy
The Golden Grave by David Lawlor
Khamsin, The Devil Wind of the Nile by Inge H. Borg
“Elsie, Adventures of an Arizona School Teacher: 1913-1916″ by Barbara Anne Waite
Murder in the Synagogue by T.V. LoCicero
Rivka’s War by Marilyn Oser
Book Front Cover
9780985682200 Until the Robin Walks on Snow COVER 1000x1600
okatibbee creek cover front JPEG
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MURDER (400x640)