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Category Archives: A to Z Blog

A is for Anne and Irene in World War 2

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.

Anne-Frank-300x220

Image Copyright AP

Irene 6 years old headshot

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.

anne frank quote about writingThough 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

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)

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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.

 

 

 
 

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B is for Bolsheviks (A to Z Historical Treasure)

April is the A to Z Blog Challenge – 26 posts in one month. My theme this year is Historical Treasure.

Publishers get to do things like update cover designs. This mockup might be on the 2nd edition of Irene's first book.

Publishers get to do things like update cover designs. This mock-up might be on the 2nd edition of Irene’s first book. Need to work in a swastika or other Nazi symbol.

Publisher.

Not a title I expected to have. Even after sending my husband’s first novel and my own into the world, I did not expect to work on getting others’ books into the hands of readers.

Then came Irene. Her complete manuscript came into my hands at church on a Sunday night. It was obviously photocopied from a typed original. Having never been a huge fan of biographies and history, I nonetheless agreed to look it over. Almost from page one I knew I was holding a historical treasure.

Here is an excerpt (copyright 1996 by Irene L. Emmerich Kucholick):

Around the time of my birth in 1929, in the industrial city of Chemnitz, Bolshevism had established itself in Russia. The Nazi party catapulted into power, teetering Europe on the brink of great turmoil.

My father, fluent in many languages, worked as a foreign correspondent for industrial firms. During evening hours refugees from Russia–members of the old white Russian nobility (anti red) crowded into his study to learn the German language. His attraction to a Russian countess and subsequent unfaithfulness to my mother caused her to leave him while she was pregnant with me, her first child. She later divorced my father.

….After dinner, strange people in elegant clothes began to arrive. Father took them immediately into his study. They spoke harsh-sounding words I could not understand.

“Russian,” Father told me.

When they took off their coats, I saw fashionable dresses of fine wool. They wore jewelry and I saw large rings reflecting bright colored lights from moving hands. Long earrings and necklaces held brilliant jewels.

“This is the wealth they brought from Russia,” Father said, “and they keep much of it on them. They are slow to trust others.” When the men removed their coats, I noticed medals of rank and honor, awarded by the Czar.

From this point forward, Irene’s memoirs had me. My fascination with the story of Anastasia, much encouraged by the 1970’s movie with Amy Irving as the supposedly still surviving Russian princess, and with the fate of the Tzar’s family prior to World War 2 urged me on.

3 Memoirs in 1: World War 2 Childhood, Years Hidden As a Boy, and Journey to Freedom (East to West Berlin)

3 Memoirs in 1: World War 2 Childhood, Years Hidden As a Boy, and Escape to Freedom (East to West Berlin)

Story after story of Irene’s young life in tumultuous times played out as I read straight through her childhood and young adult life in three days. History came alive for me in a way it never had before. Irene’s straight forward accounts, written without emotionally charged embellishments, brought the era closer home to me than had my visits to historical sights such as the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the Dachau contraction camp, and the battle fields of Bastogne.

“We have to publish this,” I told my husband. And we did.

I’ve gotten to know Irene who is one of my heroes. Getting her story into the hands of readers became a labor love from the days of transferring typed pages into digital format via three softwares to the audio recordings I am making this month.

This is the historical treasure for you to catch glimpses of throughout the A to Z Blog Challenge this month. What episode of history fascinates you? Do you have a question for Irene? Tell us in the comments.

(Next up: C is for Crazy Kids (World War 2)

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Kristin King is a publisher with Three Kings Publishing, but she does not accept manuscripts for review…normally. Three Kings Publishing is a mom and pop publisher of Christian writers, not necessarily Christian books.

 
 

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Z is for Zoomed By

IMG_0725(A to Z Blogs April 2015 – Back to Africa)

I love completion yet have an aversion to finishing things. So here it is half way through May and I’ve yet to post my last letter for the A to Z April Back to Africa. Today is the day, but I know there will be other posts. This last one, Z is for Zoomed By, will likely go on–become it’s own category perhaps. For now, though these are my closing sights from my trip to Africa.

  • Was that a Rwandan barn swallow? It swooped over the tea field to our right
  • An adobe type home has a silver metal circle set in the plaster to decorate above the front door entrance. It takes me a moment to realize it is a hubcap. Wonder if they saw that on Pinterest? You never know.
  • We follow a large flatbed truck with a short container. “67,200 lbs MAX,” the container’s rear says. Emblazoned on the side “Emirates Shipping.” We pass several of these.
  • Our driver accept 1/2mybeignet. We break bread together, Justin and Kristin. This moment of connection makes me smile.

    Hill side banana sales in East Congo

    Hill side banana sales in East Congo

  • A boy, maybe 8 or 9, with a staff is herding 11 goats.
  • So many little girls in their dresses and bald.
  • See a nicer building? Ask what it is. Answer, invariably, “A school.”

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 

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Y is for “Yes!”

Two of the sponsored Princesses just heard "Yes" this year.

Two of the sponsored Princesses just heard “Yes” this year.

(A to Z Blogs April 2015 – Back to Africa)

Some parenting advice I heard years ago said to “say yes” as often as you can. There will be plenty of no’s. In Africa at our education center there always plenty of no’s as well. We can only give as many school scholarships as we have sponsors. We can’t have a regular snack for often hungry students because we have no space.

So I love to say “Yes!” whenever I can. When operations in Congo said we needed a new roof, I got to say “yes.” When a new girl received a sponsor (based on both merit and need) and we found out she had a debt to the school, I got to say “yes” to paying that $385. Yes, I can come visit. Yes, we’ll be bringing another team.

In times and places with so many disappointments, we are blessed with each and every yes.

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2015 in A to Z Blog, Travel

 

X is for X’ed Photography in Africa

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 7.20.42 AM(A to Z Blogs April 2015 – Back to Africa)

That to which we give our attention creates our world view. Or our Africa view. There is so much focus on what’s wrong, we can miss what’s right, what’s beautiful, what’s interesting. X’ed photography meant that I didn’t take very many pictures of trash in the streets or ditches, evidence of poverty, or oppression. Was it there? Certainly. Could our nonprofit use those views to pull at heart-strings? Maybe. We’re about hope, though, using education to build for the future today.

Fundamentally, though, I come back to looking for the positive. In the streets of Paris a couple weeks ago my youngest son said, “Yuck! Look mommy.” He was pointing at the cigarette butts, dog poo, and trash that it is legal to drop in the gutters which are cleaned daily (and stay that way for 10 or 15 minutes).

“Yes, I said. I see it. But look in the bakery window, the designs of the balconies and buildings. Do you know what we’ll see soon?”

“What?”

“The Eiffel Tower!”

He wasn’t terrible impressed until he actually saw it.

My morning vista

My morning vista

Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world. A top destination, yet lots of folks can’t see much beyond the dirty gutters. There’s so much more to Africa, to Congo, to the people, culture, and beauty, potential and realities that are there. So I photographed flowers, birds, vistas, shy smiles, and food.

A TED Talk my husband sent to me recently said:

Poverty isn’t getting worse. Food isn’t running out. Volunteering overseas is not the best way to help. Simon Moss debunks six myths about poverty and asks a series of new questions to reshape the way we think about relief. (Africa is poor and five other myths link.)

Sometimes you can change the world by changing how you look at it. Future. Hope. Africa.

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Philippians 4:8 NIV)

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 28, 2015 in A to Z Blog, East Congo, Travel

 

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W is for Water Congo vs. Alaska

It was just one glass of water in DRC, but this is where the taste took me.

It was just one glass of water in DRC, but this is where the taste took me.

(A to Z Blogs April 2015 – Back to Africa)

What I was tasting was rainwater from a roof in East Congo. Where it took me was Alaska right to the top of a glacier. How could that be? Whether it’s bottled or from the tap, our water tends to have any number of additives. Potable tap water is clean rather than pure. Bottled water is often the same. And although rain water can collect impurities as it comes through the air depending on where it is collected, I think our palates are used to the chemical cleaners of the modern age–and frankly don’t know what they’re missing.

For taste, though, nothing can match what I drank from a glacier stream in Alaska. At least I thought nothing could, until my host handed me the boiled and chilled rainwater in Congo. In the same way smells can transport us, so can tastes. What a strange phenomena to be sitting in the heart of Africa and experiencing a glacier at the same time.

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 

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V is for Views in Africa

(A to Z Blogs April 2015 – Back to Africa)

IMG_0607

The towering flower bushes captivated me even when surrounding security gates. Visit “F is for Flowers” http://wp.me/p8Fvh-xv

As I come to the end last few letters of the alphabet in the #AtoZChallenge, I see so many more notes in my travel journal that are yet to be communicated. So V is for Views of things I saw to take note of during this last trip to Africa. Tidbits straight from my journal.

  • Used to the safety videos in flight? Here’s a new one on me. The larger Ethiopian Air planes have a new lavatory that is complicated to get in and out of and has several touchless-automatic features that confuse people. Now you will watch the “How to Use the Toilet” video on each of these flights.
  • Strapped to bicycles in the mountains we spot a hog-tied goat, roped containers for empty water coming down, stacked high with the person walking and pushing the bike uphill containers full of water, bound loads of sticks bigger than the people transporting them. Bikes and manpower for commerce and survival.
  • A small boy runs into the road right in front of us. The driver is fast to hit the breaks. The boy’s mama retrieves him but the child is all smiles like it is great fun that the car had to stop and she had to grab him.
  • A roadside "store" that we passed several times but was not in use.

    A roadside “store” that we passed several times but was not in use.

    Two boys about 7 or 8 years old are hacking at a tree with an ax.

  • Houses have yards of banana trees, or cassava bushes–occasionally even a front yard of tall corn.
  • Three boys sit in a dry drainage ditch on the side of the road, eating a snack (perhaps chewing on sugar cane pieces?). Their entertainment is watching the cars and trucks go by.
  • Sunflowers are planted a few here and there by houses–not the big single-headed kind but multiple blooms. I wonder if the smaller flowers mean smaller seeds.
  • A pile of orange bricks on the side of the road for sale. It’s huge and notable because usually we see rock piles (African Quarry). Earlier we saw bricks laid out behind a house to dry.
  • In two hours we see only one speed limit sign–80 kilometers per hour. What is that 45 mph? Everyone disregards.
  • After almost finishing my Coca-Cola I notice that the writing on it is Amharic, one of the first languages of my oldest son. This little bit of American-Ethiopian makes long to bring him with me next time I come.

More of these items of notice from Africa will make up Z is for Zoomed By.

We see the UN cars and compounds, but no one seems to know what they actually do locally.

We see the UN cars and compounds, but no one seems to know what they actually do locally.

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 

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