Tag Archives: World War II

We Are Going to Be Lucky A World War II Love Story in Letters Book Review

If we are lucky, we find the person whom not only makes us happy, but whom we will hopefully spend the rest of our lives with.

In the new book, We Are Going to Be Lucky A World War II Love Story in Letters, Lenny and Diana Miller were both first generation Jewish Americans who met and married just as World War II was starting to heat up. The book is a series of letters compiled by their daughter, Elizabeth L. Fox. Both born in New York City, both Lenny and Diana’s parents were Eastern European Jews who immigrated to America at the turn of the 20th century.

After they married, Lenny, like many young men of his generation, joined the Armed Forces.  While Lenny was in the army, he and Diana communicated through letters. While Lenny wrote about his life in the military, Diana kept her husband abreast from news at home, especially the news regarding the birth of their daughter. After returning from the war, Lenny and Diana had a son and remained married until he died in 1990.

This book is absolutely fascinating. It illuminates the daily life of an ordinary couple who kept their love alive with the war going on, knowing that at any moment, Lenny might have given his life for his country.

I recommend it.

 

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz Book Review

The few that survived Auschwitz relied on wit, skill or just plain chance.

Lale Sokolov is one of the few who did survive Auschwitz. He did so by becoming the Tätowierer (responsible for carving the numbers into the arms of his fellow prisoners). His story is recounted in the novel The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Written by Heather Morris, the book follows Lale from his first days at the notorious death camp until the end of the war when he and the rest of the survivors are freed from captivity. Instead of outright murdering him, the Germans use his multi-lingual ability for their own uses.

While this is happening, Lale is trying to save as many of his fellow prisoners while he is falling in love with another prisoner, Gita. It is their relationship and mutual love that helps him to stay alive when he knows that death is all around him.

This book is amazing. If nothing else, it is a reminder that hope and love can still exist when it seems impossible that neither should exist.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

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Operation Finale Movie Review

The Holocaust is one of the most well-known massacre in modern human history. Ten million innocent people were murdered, six million of them were Jewish.

Adolph Eichmann is known as the architect of The Holocaust. After World War II, he escaped to Argentina, where he lived under a new identity. That is, until 1960, when Mossad agents located him, captured him and brought him back to Israel to stand trial for his crimes.

The location and capture of Eichmann is told in the new movie, Operation Finale. Adolph Eichmann (Ben Kingsley) has been living in Buenos Aires under the name of Ricardo Clemente. When the Israeli authorities are given this information, a task force of top Mossad agents are given the job of catching Eichmann and transporting him to Israel for trial. The team includes Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) and Hanna Elian (Melanie Laurent).

Once the team is able to capture Eichmann, they have to hold him until they can fly out of Argentina. Capturing him was the easy part, getting to the airport and flying out without being held up or discovered is the hard part.

This movie is amazing and should be seen by as many people as possible. It should be seen not just because it is relevant in 2018, but because it is a historical thriller done right. The psychological tension, especially between Peter and Eichmann is so tight that it forces the audience to really think about how thin the line between good and evil truly is.

Not only do I recommend it, but I have a feeling that this movie will do very well come award season.

Operation Finale is presently in theaters. 

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Throwback Thursday-The Audrey Hepburn Story (2000)

There are few old Hollywood performers as memorable as Audrey Hepburn. Remembered for her iconic roles in Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961), Roman Holiday (1953) and her humanitarian work, Ms. Hepburn will always forever be remembered for heart and her trend setting fashion.

In 2000, Jennifer Love Hewitt starred in the TV movie/biopic, The Audrey Hepburn Story. As a girl, a young Audrey Hepburn (Emmy Rossum) wanted to be a ballet dancer. But her parent’s divorce and World War II changed all that. The movie then follows her career as she becomes a movie star and has to juggle work, fame and relationships.

As biopics go, this TV movie is not bad. But it’s not good either. While Jennifer Love Hewitt is not the best actress, she certainly gives it her all. I just wonder what could have been done differently to make this program more palatable.

Do I recommend it? Sort of.

 

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Immigration Is Not A Black And White Issue: Thoughts On The Accused Killer Of Mollie Tibbetts And The Deportation Of Jakiw Palij

The myth about America pertains to the thorny issue of immigration. While Emma Lazarus‘s immortal poem, The New Colossus has greeted new American immigrants along with The Statue Of Liberty for generations, the immigrant experience has never been an easy one.

In 2018, the complications have become magnified, thanks to you know who.

Last month, college student Mollie Tibbetts went missing. This week, her body was found. Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who authorities have identified as an illegal immigrant originally from Mexico was accused of her murder.

My heart breaks for those who knew her and loved her. May her memory be a blessing.

It didn’t take long for certain political factions in this country to use this girl’s murder as a reason to paint all illegal immigrants with broad brush. Most, if not all immigrants, regardless of their status, did not come to America to become criminals. They came to this country for the freedoms and opportunities that for many immigrants are not available in the countries of their birth.

This case also bring to light two scourges on our global cultural landscape: sexism and racism. Some of the news reports stated that Mr. Rivera approached Miss Tibbetts.  When she rebuffed him, he didn’t understand that no means no. Racism comes into the picture because this case amplifies the myth that all men of color are predators when it comes to white women. Therefore, white woman need to be protected by white men from the men of color who might have less than honorable or harmless intentions.

The other news story that  brings into light the shades of grey when it comes to immigration is the case of Jakiw Palij.

In 1949, he came to America, claiming to be a farmhand and factory worker. Since then, he has lived in Queens, New York. According to news reports, Mr. Palij was actually a Nazi labor camp guard at Trawniki concentration camp and lied on his immigration paperwork. He is being deported back to Germany.

While I understand that he is 95 years old, justice must be served. From my perspective, when an immigrant is deported, the government must have a solid reason to send him or her back to their country of origin. In this case, I cannot disagree with his deportation. While it would be impossible in 2018 to prosecute every member of the Nazi party who stood by while their Jewish friends and neighbors were being murdered, the prosecution of Mr. Palij must proceed. The message must be heard loudly and clearly: those who had a hand in murdering Jews and other minorities during World War II will be judged and prosecuted for their actions.

Despite the promise of America, immigration will never be a black and white issue. It is my opinion that unfortunately, it’s taken Americans over 200 years to realize that fact.

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Defending The Motherland: The Soviet Women Who Fought Hitler’s Aces Book Review

War often asks ordinary citizens to act differently than they would when their country is at peace. This includes women who for the most part, remained in the background.

One of the lesser known and appreciated historical facts about World War II is that the war motivated women to stretch their legs beyond the traditional roles that they were accustomed to. In The Soviet Union, women not only actively joined the armed forces, but also were part of same-sex combat units that successfully fought back against the Germans.

The story of these women is laid out in the 2015 book, Defending The Motherland: The Soviet Women Who Fought Hitler’s Ace’s. Written by Lyuba Vinogradova, the author pulls together interviews with the surviving airwomen to tell the story of the squadrons who fought for their country while fighting sexism within the military.

I found this book to be not only educational and well written, but extremely interesting. The author found a way to bring her subjects to life in a way that not only appealed to both the feminist and the history nerd in me.

I recommend it.

 

 

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We Were The Lucky Ones Book Review

To have said that you survived The Holocaust took more that luck. Fate and perhaps split second decisions had a hand in deciding if one would become a martyr or a survivor.

Georgia Hunter’s 2017 memoir, We Were The Lucy Ones, tells the story of her mother’s family survived The Holocaust.  She starts the story in 1939 as the Kurc family from Radom, Poland is celebrating the holiday of Passover. They are all together with the exception one of the sons who is living and working in Paris. Then the war starts and the family is torn apart. At each turn, it looks like they will join their slain brethren. But somehow, the family survives forges a new life far away from the hatred and terror that nearly took their lives.

This book is nothing short of wondrous. I could not put it down. There were points in the novel where I held my breath, praying that each individual family member would find a way to survive not just that moment or that day, but the war. It is a breathtaking story of survival, love and perseverance against all odds.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

 

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Those Who Save Us Book Review

For some of us, the past is the past. Who we were and the choices that we made at that point in our lives is no longer of consequence. That is, until the past rears is head back into our lives.

In Jenna Blum’s 2004 novel, Those Who Save us, Anna Schlemmer emigrated to America from Germany just after World War II with her American soldier husband and young daughter. Fifty years later, her husband is dead and Anna is determined to let the past remain in the past. But her now grown daughter, Trudy, is a professor of German history and curious about her mother’s past. Finding an old photograph of herself and her mother with a German officer, Trudy is determined to find out the secrets that her mother has been hiding for half a century.

This book is remarkable. While normally I would say that a slow narrative does not bode well for finishing a novel,  the slow burn towards the end of the story is well worth the emotional payoff that ends the novel. Adding to the suspense is the sometimes tenuous relationship between middle-aged Trudy and senior Anna.

I absolutely recommend it.

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The Greatest Thing You Can Do Is Serve Your Country, But Some Are Still Prevented From Serving

Immigrant has become a dirty word in this country, especially since you know who became President.

While the ban on Transgender troops was lifted last year, there are many who are willing and able to serve, but are given the runaround when they present themselves as recruits.

Today, the Associated Press reported that immigrant recruits are being quietly discharged by the military.

Not only is America the land of immigrants, but her military is made up of immigrants or children of immigrants. My grandfathers, the sons of Jewish immigrants, served their country in World War II. One of my great-uncles served in World War I.  Many Irish immigrants fought for the North and the South during the Civil War. Similarly, European immigrants fought for America during World War I. They wanted to prove that they were just as American as any native-born soldier.

The fact is that America has not had a draft since Vietnam. Everyone who signs up for the military is doing so of their own free will.  They know, just as we know, that it is an honorable, but perilous profession.

To potentially put your life on the line to protect the American people, reveals to me at least, the nature of those who join the military. I could say the same thing about you know who, but he did use the excuse of “bone spurs” to get out of serving in Vietnam.

 

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The Lost Family: A Novel Book Review

Our past is our past. Whether we like it or not, it will always be with us.

Jenna Blum’s new novel, The Lost Family: A Novel, starts in 1960’s New York City. Peter Rashkin is chef/owner of Masha’s, one of the most respected restaurants in the city. He is also one of the most sought after bachelors in the city.  A survivor of Auschwitz who lost his wife and young daughters in the war, Peter is not interested in dating anyone. Then he meets June Bouquet, an up and coming model who is two decades his junior. Despite the age and religion difference, Peter and June fall in love. When June finds herself pregnant, they marry. The rest of the book covers the next two decades as Peter, June and their daughter Elsbeth face not only the challenges of change, but Peter’s past.

This book is an absolute must read. What makes this book a must read is that is just so good. What I loved about the book was the human imperfection of the characters and how that played into the narrative.

I absolutely recommend it.

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