April is the A to Z Blog Challenge – 26 posts in one month. My theme this year is Historical Treasure.
You know Anne. Now meet Irene.
Image Copyright AP
Image Copyright Three Kings Publishing
In 1929 two girls who later wrote about World War 2 were born in Germany, they were Anne Frank and Irene Kucholick. Anne’s dream was to become a famous writer. Irene’s dream was to become a nurse. Both their dreams were achieved in unexpected ways. Both of their lives were changed in profound ways by the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party in their native homeland. Both were oppressed because they were not pure Aryans: Anne was Jewish and Irene was half Polish.
Anne is world famous. Irene is virtually unknown. However they both wrote about a time in history that should not be forgotten or brushed under the rug. People tend to forget that Anne was a German Jew. People tend to forget that the first people Hitler oppressed were his own.
Anne’s family fled Germany and still ended up living under Nazi rule in The Netherlands, where she began her writing career in earnest at the age of 13 while in hiding. Irene’s family stayed in what became East Germany, where she began her nurse training at the age of 14.
Though Anne did not live to see it, she is one of the most famous writers of WW2 and one of the most famous holocaust victims. Anne died in 1945 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp just weeks before the camp was liberated. In her diaries she said, “I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
Irene’s sorrows lived on, haunting her years later. She suffered from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) until she began writing about her life and experiences, exorcising the grip of the past from her present. On Saturday, June 20th 1942, Anne said, “I feel like writing, and I have an even greater need to get all kinds of things off my chest.”
Irene had the same need.
Before the Iron Curtain: My World War 2 Childhood Memoirs by Irene Kucholick
Anne and Irene’s books are historical treasure troves. Where Anne’s writings end on August 1, 1944, Irene’s writing goes on describing daily life and survival through end of the war, through her 3 years hiding from Soviets as a boy, through her young adult nursing career on the dark side of the Iron Curtain, and through the actions leading to her spy accusations that sent her fleeing across the border from East to West Berlin in 1953.
Irene lives to this day.
Read her story.
Send your questions in the comments.
Living history of those times is getting harder to find.
Follow along this month as we dive into this treasure trove with excerpts and commentary from A to Z.
(Coming Soon…B is for Bolsheviks)
Kristin King is one of Irene Kucholick’s biggest fans and the unexpected publisher of her memoirs. Kristin is currently working on a recording of Irene’s story for audiobook release. She hopes to visit Irene and hold a book signing in Maryland Thanksgiving 2017.