Tagarchief: WWII

The Hidden Village

The_hidden_village_imogen_matthews_amsterdampublishersThe Hidden Village, historical fiction set in WW2, by Imogen Matthews

Deep in the dense woods of the Dutch Veluwe lies a monument in memory of six Jews who were shot by the Nazis in October 1944. Every year on Commemoration day, inhabitants of Vierhouten and neighbouring Nunspeet gather to put flowers on the memorial stone.

What’s the story behind this monument, hidden deep in the woods near Vierhouten?

During the Second World War all Jews faced deportation to concentration and death camps by the Nazis. Since chances of discovery were less likely in the Dutch countryside, some were desperate to get shelter outside of the big cities. Around Vierhouten in the province of Gelderland many were looking for a hiding place. Due to the large numbers of refugees, the villagers could no longer shelter them in their own homes. The villagers of Vierhouten, led by the lawyer Von Baumhauer and the Bakkers, decided to go deep into the woods to build wooden huts that housed as many as 100 people.

Reconstruction of one of the huts of the hidden village

Unfortunate discovery of the Hidden Village

From February 1943 until October 1944 the refugees lived in these huts many below ground. Their very survival depended on the goodwill and courage of the villagers. With Germans roaming about the place it was very hard to bring food and supplies to the people in the hidden village. Unfortunately the huts were discovered and eight Jews in total were shot. The other 78 luckily managed to escape. Apart from Jewish families, the hidden village was also occupied by young Dutch men trying to avoid Arbeitseinsatz (enforced labour in Germany), refugees from nearby camp Amersfoort and stranded pilots from the Allied forces.

When Imogen Matthews, an Oxford author, came upon the memorial during one of her cycling holidays in Holland, she was intrigued. She discovered the three huts that were rebuilt in 1970 and 1995. Being of Dutch descent herself, she was able to read Het Verscholen Dorp, Verzet en Onderduikers op de Veluwe by A. Visser. The remarkable story of the Jews in hiding sparked off her imagination.

The result is The Hidden Village, a fast-paced work of historical fiction. The book does not claim to be historically accurate. The author used the subject of people hiding in the woods from the Germans as the starting point for this fascinating piece of fiction. Recommended reading for all of those interested in WW2 novels, and, especially, those set in wartime Holland.

The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews is available now from Amazon (Kindle ebook) and as paperback.

Bestseller The Hidden Village

On 13 June 2017 The Hidden Village reached bestselling status in no less than 3 different categories. The book is clearly being appreciated! Ever since it has been a bestseller in all three or even more  categories, and the overall ranking has been in the low hundreds. Imagine, this is the ranking of all books on Amazon! Absolutely amazing. And it has well over 300 reviews.

Author-imogen-matthews-and-amsterdam-publishers-liesbeth-heenkDiscussing our 2018 marketing strategy in a brown cafe in Leiden (Holland): Imogen Matthews and publisher Liesbeth Heenk.

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About the author

Imogen Matthews lives in Oxford, England and is the author of two romantic fiction e-novels. The Hidden Village is her first foray into historical fiction. Born in Rijswijk, Holland, to a Dutch mother and English father, the family moved to England when Imogen was very young. She has always enjoyed holidays in Holland and since 1990, has gone regularly with her husband and two children to Nunspeet on the edge of the Veluwe woods. It was here that she discovered the story of the hidden village, and, together with her mother’s vivid stories of life in WW2 Holland, she was inspired to write her next novel…

Author of The Hidden Village Imogen MatthewsImogen Matthews, author of The Hidden Village:

“I remember the first time I came across the village hidden deep in the Veluwe woods in Holland. We were on one of our favourite cycle routes bowling along paths framed by tall beech trees when I spotted a memorial stone I hadn’t noticed before. Chillingly it told how a number of Jews had been shot dead by the Germans not long before the end of the war. They’d managed to stay hidden in a village of purpose-built huts for nearly 2 years.
What struck me about this episode frozen in time was how courageous & resilient these people were. So too were the many who were prepared to shelter these refugees by putting their own lives at risk. I didn’t want to write a historical account of these events as I already had ideas for a fictional story and my characters were taking shape in my mind.”

 

The Hidden Village in the press

Imogen Matthews wrote a guestpost in A Lover of Books on 12 July 2017

On 27 September Imogen Matthews was interviewed by the Belgian Reviewer in the Author Spotlight.

On 25 August 2017 The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews was featured in the Oxford Times.

The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews in Oxford Times

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The Dead Years

Dead_years_holocaust_memoirs_joseph_schupack_amsterdampublishersThe Dead Years – Holocaust Memoirs by Joseph Schupack

Holocaust survivor stories need to be kept alive.  Every year, survivors with unique testimonies are passing away. This means that we will soon no longer be able to hear first-hand from the people who survived the Holocaust. Books and video testimonials by survivors will be the only ways to get to know their moving stories.

The sons of Joseph Schupack (1922 – 1989) have decided to republish their father’s testimonial, The Dead Years in order to keep his memory alive by giving it better exposure.

Amsterdam Publishers is very pleased to have released the revised and augmented edition. The Dead Years is our fourth Holocaust memoir, and we are committed to continue to bear witness to the atrocities committed by the Nazis during the Second World War.

PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT YAD VASHEM

Joseph Schupack’s two sons are grateful to Liesbeth Heenk and Amsterdam Publishers for the opportunity to make their father’s work available to a wider audience and wish to further the project of remembrance of the Holocaust by donating the proceeds of The Dead Years to benefit Yad Vashem‘s causes, to take effect from 1 July 2017.

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The Dead Years is different from most Holocaust Survivor stories. Not only is it a testimony of the years wasted before the second world war in Poland and subsequently in the concentrationcamps of Majdanek, Auschwitz, Dora / Nordhausen and Bergen-Belsen in Germany and Poland, but it also serves as a witness statement. Although it has been written years after the events took place, the author has tried to mention as many names, places and dates as humanly possible. It contains a wealth of information for researchers and people interested in the era, or coming from Radzyn-Podlaski and surroundings.

The Dead Years is a deeply personal book. Schupack saw how people in the depths of misery shared their last morsel of food, how they were prepared for any sacrifice. There were many examples of brotherly love that grew out of empathetic pain.

Schupack describes the rampant anti-Semitism he encountered when he tried to reclaim his possessions in Poland after the end of the war. For the Poles in his home town, the best Jews were the ones who did not return. A new, strictly anti-Semitic organization had been founded and its primary goal was the liquidation of all Jews returning from hiding or concentration camps.

After the war the author confronted his demons, mentally scarred by his experiences, and suffering from a chronic anxiety about the future and a permanent feeling of insecurity. It is a miracle how he has come to terms with his memories. We are deeply grateful that he confided his memoirs to the paper, so we never forget.

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The Dead Years also available in German as Tote Jahre

Dr Volker Katzmann has kindly gave us permission to republish the original version of The Dead years (Tote Jahre). As from 24 September 2017 it is available as eBook on Amazon. In due course it will be released as paperback as well.

Tote Jahre von Joseph Schupack, herausgegeben von Amsterdam Publishers

An excerpt from The Dead Years

Like a stranded man among the stranded, like a sufferer bound to all sufferers, I stood alone in front of the shambles of my life which had stopped when I was seventeen years old and from which nothing could be salvaged or repaired.

My own Holocaust had started almost five years before. I was very young then, but in the meantime had aged much more than those five years. The time of youth, when the basis for a human being is created and his personality is formed, the time of cheerful memories, of school, of first love – this period of laughter and pranks from which everyone derives pleasure for a lifetime – this period did not exist for me and my contemporaries. It was taken from us because we were born Jews. We spent this period in a hell among devils in human form. Those years were dead years.

No nightmare, no horror story, no fantasy can be compared to life in that inferno. Those five years seemed like a lifetime to me; I thought that I had been born and always lived there. Sometimes I would strain my memory to remember the time before 1939.

Then, my world was comprised only of Jews and non-Jews. I saw the world divided into the persecuted and the persecutors, the tortured and the torturers: on the one side, the beaten and the dead, on the other, the sadists and murderers. We Jews were always given the role of the persecuted. Even after the liberation I did not dare to think of changing roles, although I had wished it before: just once I wanted to play the other part and then die. The outrageous injustices committed against us hurt us more than all the resulting suffering. I could forgive neither God nor mankind for what I had witnessed and experienced during the extermination of our people. There is a lot of injustice in the world, but for that kind there is no consolation. Like a wounded animal I thought that I had to show my wounds to the world with its morals, political parties, organizations and religions so that not only the crimes of the murderers, but also the injustices committed against us Jews would be recognized.

To wake up from this trauma, conscious of the necessity to see and judge the world and people differently, to overcome the past was my problem and that of all my fellow sufferers.

The Dead Years is a poignant story offering a unique perspective on the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations

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Abbé Glasberg

The-mission_ogf_abbe_glasberg_lucien_lazareThe Mission of Abbé Glasberg by Lucien Lazare

The Mission of Abbé Glasberg by Lucien Lazare is the fascinating story of a priest – of Jewish origins – who dedicated himself to the task of helping the refugees who were streaming into France during the years preceding World War II. Together with Father Chaillet, Alexandre Glasberg created the ecumenical Amitié Chrétienne in May 1942 with the full support of Cardinal Gerlier, archbishop of Lyon.

In a joint effort, they managed to retrieve hundreds of Jewish children from French-run concentration camps and disperse them among religious houses and private homes. They refused to give them up even when the government of Vichy placed Chaillet under house arrest in a psychiatric hospital for three months.

They disregarded the orders of Alexandre Angeli, the regional prefect of Lyon who was a Nazi collaborator. Alexandre Angeli was condemned to a death penalty immediately after the war, later commuted to a sentence of four year-imprisonment. Abbé Glasberg later joined the French underground.

After the war, Abbé Glasberg assisted the Mossad in their attempt to transport many of the survivors of WWII to the land of Israel. The book contains an introduction by Cardinal Albert Decourtray, April 4th, l990.

The book is available on Amazon as eBook and paperback:

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Justus Rosenberg, one of the Jews saved by the Glasberg network

On 29 April 2016 The New York Times (Sarah Wildman) devoted an article, ‘The Professor Has a Daring Past’, on the 95-year-old Justus Rosenberg who provided a safe passage out of Vichy France to anti-fascist intellectuals and cultural figures fleeing the Nazis. Rosenberg was used as a courier to deliver messages to refugees and scout out safe passage, in particular via the overland route through Spain.

In August 1942, he was rounded up with several hundred other Jews and was taken to a transit camp, Vénissieux, outside the city of Lyon. There, he was rescued by the network of Abbé Alexandre Glasberg and received his new identity: Jean-Paul Guiton. He went on to serve with the French Resistance.

Article in French by Leo Abrami on Alexandre Glasberg in the Tribune Juive

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Wanda Landowska

Wandowska_landowska_de_falla_amsterdam_publishersWanda Landowska – Manuel de Falla Correspondance (1922-1931) by Loes Dommering-van Rongen

We are pleased to announce the publication of the correspondence between Wanda Landowska and Manuel de Falla by the Dutch musicologist Loes Dommering-van Rongen. The correspondence covers the years between 1922 and 1931.

In his book Sonderstab Musik, Willem de Vries described how the Nazi’s not only stole works of art but also musical documents form the Jews. During WWII the ‘Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg’ was set up, an organisation set up to eliminate Jewish cultural life in Europe. The Nazi’s also established a ‘Sonderstab Musik’ to locate musical manuscripts, books and instruments.  Their goal was a general confiscation and removal of Jewish possessions, including those connected with music-making. Sonderstab Musik describes the activities of the ‘Sonderstab Musik’ in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The Polish-Jewish harpsichordist Wanda Landowska (5 July 1879 – 16 August 1959) was one of the many victims of the organisation.  When she had to flee her home in Saint-Lieu near Paris all of her musical instruments, manuscripts and personal documents were taken by the Nazi’s. Among the items stolen were letters written by the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. Some of these were discovered by De Vries in Nuremberg. The Dutch lawyer and musicologist Loes Dommering-Van Rongen reconstructed the correspondence during the years 1922 and 1931 between Wanda Landowska and Manuel de Falla.

The publication contains a lot of new information and throws an interesting new light on the relationship between the two. Wanda Landowska – Manuel de Falla is available as eBook and Print-on-Demand paperback in French, the original language of the correspondence.

 

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Mendel by Anita Lavi

Mendel _anita_lavi_amsterdam_publishersMendel: a Holocaust Story for Children by Anita Lavi

Mendel is a children’s book that gently introduces the subject of the Holocaust to children.

In Mendel, a father tells his two children the story of a Jewish boy who lived in Poland during the second world war. Each night after he tucks his children in, Father sits on the edge of the bed and begins his story about Papa, Mama and their three boys. It is, as you may have guessed, his own story.

The book is based on the life story of the author’s father, Manny Steinberg. Together with his father and brother, Manny Steinberg managed to survive four Nazi camps.

Mendel by Anita Lavi takes you from a quiet, loving and warm family home, to being put into trucks, and living in camps. Being reunited after the war, the family ultimately emigrates to the US, arriving to be greeted by Lady Liberty in New York harbor.

The tone of the book is simple, but poignant and gentle which makes it suitable for children aged circa 8 to 11. Mendel is written to teach without frightening. The emphasis is  very much on strength of family.

The author stresses the importance of family, hope and love. The book has been illustrated with pencil drawings by Caroline Juler that beautifully depict the mood and era of the story.

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Anita Lavi on writing Mendel: a Holocaust story for Children

“A few years ago, I helped my dad re-write his book Outcry – Holocaust Memoirs.  The collaboration not only brought us closer in understanding one another, but helped me realize that I had a passion for writing.  In April, 2015 I traveled with my father (Manny Steinberg) to Germany for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Vaihingen Concentration Camp. The small city invited survivors and their families to their quaint town to celebrate life and pay tribute to the people who once suffered at the hands of their countrymen and forefathers.  It was an emotional trip to say the least, but my dad endured it at 90 years of age.

One of the events that we attended, was at a local high school where students asked questions of the survivors.  I thought to myself, there in a room filled with 15 – 17 year old kids asking so many questions; how do we as parents and grandparents explain the holocaust to younger children?  I thought about it for several days and when I sat down to write, the words came flooding to me. I remembered when I was a little girl, my dad telling me bedtime stories and all about the young boy and his family who once lived in Radom, Poland.”

Praise for Mendel

“Passing along family history and the simple lessons of life to our children is maybe the most important responsibility parents have. Perhaps the most challenging lessons are those that deal with reality and the fact that bad things happen and children need to know this without scaring them.

If your family is Jewish, this a great book to start to teach the kids in a gentle way some of the more difficult parts of history. It is an excellent tool to generate healthy questions and discussions.”

The drawings are great punctuations in the story and themselves a great way to engage children and let them talk about what they see. Read this book to your children and then have a chat about Mendel and his family and then talk about your family.”

Mendel is available in English (eBook and Print-on-Demand paperback), and in French.

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