I collect stories as some people collect rare books or stamps.
Stories fascinate me. As a newspaper reporter and magazine writer, I had the (paid) opportunity to listen to people tell stories. I’ve literally heard 1,000s of oral histories, often from people who didn’t believe they were interesting enough to have a story.
I believe everyone has a story.
People who live in other countries are especially interesting as they involve different cultures. That leads me to my current book project, some details of which I’ll share with you here.
During the past eight years while interviewing 250 American World War II veterans, I would hear about other person who had participated in the war or had a story of survival or helped the Allies often in danger of losing their lives.
While putting together my 3 books of World War II stories, I kept track of these mentions in a file, planning to do something with them in the future.
That day is here.
Here are some stories planned for this special book:
- Australian war bride (above) who left her family to marry an American soldier, living the rest of her life halfway around the world from her homeland
- Belgium Resistance fighter who as a teen helped blow up German railroad lines, working with Allied soldiers
- Female French Resistance fighter who served as an interpreter between the French and American forces and jumped out of a plane to deliver messages
- German 10-year-old who fled on foot with his widowed mother and six siblings from the Russian Army who would have killed them if caught
- Teen from Hungary who barely escaped his country from the Russians to live in a refugee camp for three years before coming to America
- Five-year-old child evacuated from London to the country during the time when Hitler rained bombs on the city day and night to live with strangers.
- American wife who found her soldier husband in a hospital, only to have him not know his name or hers.
This book is unlike my others as the interviews are not mostly with men but women. We didn’t talk about battles but conflicts on the home front– rationing, the Blitz of German bombs on London; long separations from loved ones; sickness.
These stories have the same level of uncertainty and even danger as soldiers. People found themselves in risky situations, often not of their doing but due to the decisions of others.
The stories of children are truly poignant. It’s terrible to think of little ones enduring starvation, deprivation, even fear for their lives. But it happened and we need to know what they endured. I’m thrilled to have met so many of these people and to put their stories into print for the first time.
The book is due out by end of summer 2019. More details will follow.
What question(s) would you like to ask one of the people mentioned above?