Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Latest From Ronald H. Balson out today! Karolina's Twins, A Literary Tale of Redemption...

I have come to the conclusion that the sound of war is not the guns banging nor the bombs blasting, it is the sound of a blessed voice that has made it through another stupid battle fought for naught... This book was inspired by the story shared to the author by Fay Scharf Waldman... and others...



"In those days, Chrzanow had about twenty-five thousand residents. Forty percent of the town was Jewish and the remainder was Catholic. The immediate area around Chrzanow was hilly and thick with forests. Beyond the perimeter, the countryside was a patchwork of farms, lumber mills and mining operations, especially coal. Krakow, Poland's second largest city, was forty-five kilometers to the east.
"My mother's family owned a store on the edge of the main square that sold building materials and farm provisions. It had been in her family for years. My mother, Hannah Scheinman, worked in the store se4veral days a week. My father, Jacob Scheinman, worked there as well. With both my parents working, Magda not only took care of the house, she took care of Milosz and me.
"The day I met Karolina, it was raining. Magda had gone out of town to visit her mother. My father was supposed to pick up Milosz, but he got tied up at the store and couldn't break away. He asked the school's headmistress to have someone help me bring Milosz home. Karolina was chosen.
"Our home was three blocks off the market square--a two-story, stone house with a gabled roof and a small attic. I mention the attic because it would soon become the centerpiece of my existence. When Karolina brough Milosz home, she hung around for a while. As young girls will do, we have a snack and gossiped away the afternoon. Soon my mother arrived and insisted that Karolina stay for dinner. I was twelve at the time. Milossz was seven. Karolina was thirteen.
"I had seen Karolina at school, but she was a year ahead of me. She was also very popular. Even then, as a young teen, she was exquisite and she grew more beautiful with each passing year. She was strong, athletic and vivacious. She had dark, curly hair and big expressive eyes. Coy, flirtatious, smart, bold and very sure of herself, the boys flocked to her.
"I didn't know at the time, but her confidence was a charade, an appearance that she wore like an overcoat. Inside she was unhappy and insecure. Her father, Mariusz Neuman was a withdrawn, severe man, always worried about his business. He had little patience for Karolina's gaiety. His business was struggling, especially in the 1930s. So, Karolina started spending a lot of time at our house.
"Karolina became an adjunct member of our family. We all loved her and she loved us, but I think she loved Milosz the most. She would sit and listen to him play even when he was just practicing his scales." Lena shrugged. "Or perhaps it was my mother's kreplach soup. Any way, Karolina practically lived at our house..."
~~~


Karolina's Twins

By Ronald H. Balson


It was a good life there in Chrzanow...There was no strife between neighbors because of their religions... Death occurred naturally and was accepted as part of the life cycle...

The Scheinman family had been comfortable and Lena's father had served during WWI, as no religious distinction was made at that time. One hundred thousand Jews fought in the German army, often holding high ranks, and twelve thousand lost their lives. Jewish families had been welcomed then and Jewish society flourished. After the War, Captain Scheinman was still referred to by his title in honor of his rank and service... They were happy days when Lena's mother would often be singing as she worked in the kitchen.

But when Hitler rose to power, everything changed for everybody.. But it was the Jews he planned to exterminate...

It is through Ben from Once We Were Brothers, that Lena Scheinman Woodward meets Catherine Lockhart, lawyer, and her husband and private investigator, Liam Taggart... Catherine is impressed with this elderly woman who is well-dressed, meticulous in her care and effectively communicates her wishes...

But she needs to share her story at her own pace and with her own memories... At first Catherine and Liam are ready and wanting to move on to the investigation to find two baby girls that were lost during the War. However, Catherine, who is the primary listener of the story, is soon caught up, just like I was, in Lena's life...



Come with me.
Where are we going?
To the Synagogue. We'll say Kaddish for your family...
"Kaddish?" I said to Yossi. My tone mocked him. "To Whom? To the absent God?" My voice was rising. "Do you think someone's listening when you chant Kaddish? Face it, Yossi, if there's a God, he's ong ago check out of this hotel. Where is he when they're torturing us? Where is God Almighty when pious people are slaughtered? Where is . . ."
"Stop!" he commanded. He grabbed my arms. "You are a Jew. They cannot take that from you. The Nazis can take away your house, they can take away your bread, they can even take your body, but they cannot take away who you are. The Nazis seek to kill us physically and spiritually. I may not be able to stop them from killing me physically, but I am in control of my spirituality. I, and I alone, will decide when to say Kaddish, when to welcome the Sabbath, when to dance on Simchat Torah. Your father, your mother and your little brother--they were all Jews. Nazi Germany, with all its might, attached their Jewishness, but it did not win. It did not rob them of their faith. The Nazis cannot win as long as we remain Jews. Do you understand?"
"I admire your strength. I admire your resolve. But I cannot share your reverence. Look what they've done to you, Yossi. A learned man living minute to minute on a basement floor. No food, no water. All because you are a Jew."
"And I am still a Jew. And so are you. If you will not say Kaddish, will you assist me to the synagogue and I will say it for both of us? Walk with me, please. We will santify the name of God at a time when such sanctification seems wholly unavailing. And that is precisely why we do it. Walk with me."
~~~





The story is written as a first-person biography. I imagined that Lena had gone over and over the events to keep everything fresh in her mind. Not because it wouldn't have been better to forget much of her life story, but because she had made a promise to her best friend, her adopted sister, Karolina, to try to find "Our" babies.

For it had been Lena, Karolina, and a nurse Muriel, who had come together, moved into a tiny furnace room, where heat was still available, and took care of the two beautiful little girls who brought bright light to the world, a love breaking through the hate, the pain, the hunger and the suffering that plagued every Jew who now had been pinpointed for elimination from Chrzanow - in one way or another... 


I find though I've read other individual stories from Holocaust survivors, I never tire of reading each singular tale. The war and the German soldiers' actions may change very little, but it is in the lives of those who suffered that we gain their memories, their losses...so that, we, too, can never forget.


Lena's father had forced her to promise to hide in their attic if the German's came for them. She could hear what was happening and then see the ravages to their home, including her brother's wheelchair, which had been totally destroyed, and his one shoe, which had undoubtedly fallen off when they lifted him out and carried him away... Lena picked up and treasured that shoe, taking her into what she faced ahead, as the only remnant of her family...


Almost the entire book is Lena's story, interspersed with the responses and beginning investigation activities by Liam... But the drama deepens when Lena's son begins legal action to have his mother declared incompetent to handle her own affairs... I must say that the legal and court portion of the book is quite interesting and is certainly a learning experience regarding this potential situation for all seniors....


Undoubtedly, the extensive coverage of the war is of interest to historical enthusiasts. I have noted that the author has expanded into other information of the time as it relates to the specific book. For instance, this book included much more about the Russian involvement...and also about those who secretly sought to eliminate Hitler...


There is both happiness as well as tears shed as Lena shares her story with us. The author mentions in his afterwords that the novel is made up of other people's stories in order to fill out the overall storyline. To me, that only broadened the impact, knowing that the Holocaust survivors are speaking out and sharing about the degradation--the horror--perhaps the worst, ever, that's been seen on this earth... Why did we not learn from it???


The contrast between such a beautiful old song and pictures of such a terrible event shows all sides of humanity. The beautiful side is shown by the song and the terrible side is shown by the photographs.
-..creator of video...

Ronald Balson has been given a wonderful gift--a gift of listening and then sharing individual stories molded into a novel that reaches into the hearts of readers. It may bring tears, but it also shares the joy that does come...

Highly recommended!


GABixlerReviews





Ronald H. Balson is an attorney practicing with the firm of Stone, Pogrund and Korey in Chicago. The demands of his trial practice have taken him into courts across the United States and into international venues. 

An adjunct professor of business law at the University of Chicago for twenty-five years, he now lectures on trial advocacy in federal trial bar courses. 

Travels to Warsaw and southern Poland in connection with a complex telecommunications case inspired Once We Were Brothers, his first novel.