Tag Archives: World War 2

Z is for Zee End #AtoZchat

For a limited time - only 99 cents! Irene's World War 2 Childhood, (teen)Years Hidden As a Boy, and Escape to Freedom (East to West Berlin) Books 1, 2, and 3 in one volume.

For a limited time – only 99 cents!
Irene’s World War 2 Childhood, (teen)Years Hidden As a Boy, and Escape to Freedom (East to West Berlin) Books 1, 2, and 3 in one volume.

Zee end only of the A to Z Challenge for this year. The Historical Treasure of Irene’s memoirs will continue. Audio versions will be released. New covers will be completed. We’ll eventually make it onto promotion lists with wider readership.

Irene herself will continue to swim at the gym, make music with her choir and struggle to hold on to this life and live it to the fullest. Today that means she’s probably throwing the ball for her lab, Rusty, and visiting with friends at church. Tomorrow she might be on a seniors tour bus to a new destination, or sharing with folks at the German-American Club.

As I look over all the work to write 26 blogs in one month, I can’t help checking the results. 200 new followers, 60 comments, 3 times the number of average views, 8 books sold. Gains big and small.

What’s more important in this A to Z Challenge though is the message. The encouragement of one soul. The inspiration of a small kindness. The resolve to one act of bravery.

Irene’s memoirs continue to receive mostly 5 star reviews which is blessing and a problem, since we’ve been told books with almost all 5 stars are “suspicious” to buyers. A new review during the A to Z Challenge says:

Something new April 16, 2016
With all of the books (both fiction and nonfiction) about World War II, I thought that this memoir might say what already has been said. I was completely wrong — it is a new and fresh account of life in eastern Germany, during the war and after, that comes alive and moves at a fast pace. Irene describes her life in a matter of fact way — the reader takes in all of the facts and stories and comes away with new knowledge and new understanding, and the feeling of meeting face to face with a living heroine. To rise to your very best self in the midst of the worst of humanity is a story worth reading. I would recommend this book to both adults and teenagers.

Thanks to each one of you for reading, for liking, for sharing, for each review. Please continue to help us share by joining Irene’s Survive Little Buddy News list. Meanwhile, we pray all of you who joined her journey here or elsewhere find a nugget to hold to in rough days.

A to Z Historical Treasure – Nuggets

A is for Anne (Frank) and Irene in World War 2
B is for Bolsheviks
C is for Crazy Kids in World War 2
D is for Dreams – What inspired ur career?
E is for Eating, Cold War Style
F is for Fear of Rape, Post War Years
G is for Gestapo
H is for Hidden As a Boy
I is for Interview Videos – Morgue Normal, Nurse and War Bride – Beyond the Book
J is for Jews in Hiding
K is for Kindnesses
L is for Louis Armstrong
M is for Music to Survive

N is for Nursing with Comrades
O is for ON Vacation Soviet Style
P is for Publishing Unexpectedly
Q is for Questions from Readers
R is for Russian Accordion
S is for Spy
T is for Temptation
U is for Uranium Mine Punishment
V is for Video “I was a spy?”
W is for West Berlin Refugee Camp
X is for Border Crossing
Z is for Zee End

What’s next? Back to Living in Holland with a special event we attended last week…The King’s Ball.


Kristin King is Irene Kucholick’s publisher and friend. She hopes you find the strength to, as the reviewer said, “rise to your very best self.”


Posted by on May 1, 2016 in Memoirs & History


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For a limited time - only 99 cents! Irene's World War 2 Childhood, (teen)Years Hidden As a Boy, and Escape to Freedom (East to West Berlin) Books 1, 2, and 3 in one volume.

For a limited time – only 99 cents!
Irene’s World War 2 Childhood, (teen)Years Hidden As a Boy, and Escape to Freedom (East to West Berlin) Books 1, 2, and 3 in one volume.

ALL CAPS IS VIRTUAL SHOUTING, so I’ve been told. That’s sort of what I’ve been doing all month-long with the A to Z Challenge theme “Historical Treasure.” I’ve shared tidbits, excerpts, photos, interviews for Irene’s memoirs in order to convince you her story is one worth sharing.

“Sharing is Caring” is often at the bottom of blog posts. That is what I am asking you to do.


In fact, I’ve marked the digital copy of her memoirs down to 99 cents (or equivalent) on Amazon outlets worldwide, because I want you to have the opportunity to get the rest of the story–and to help spread the word.

If you are a reader, you’ll get drawn in by this book.

If you know a history buff, you could be the one that recommends the best history book they’ll read this year.

If you know someone who likes strong female leads, this is for them.

If you think Irene’s story could do well given a chance, share.

Here are some ways:

  • Share or reblog a post you liked from A to Z (& mention the 99 cents sale)
  • Share one of Irene’s youtube videos (follow the channel to get more)
  • Get the rest of the story for yourself and leave a review for her
  • Give the gift of history (signed copies available)

Survive Little Buddy has what it takes in terms of a compelling story that builds the world of the past for us to see today. I know it! Do you?

I wanna YELL ABOUT IT! That’s what A to Z was for me this year. Only one more post coming at you…Z is for….


Kristin King is a mom of four boys, US Army wife, and currently struggling with a nasty head cold–the kind of thing so trivial Irene never mentions it. Kristin wishes she was as stalwart as Irene.


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Q is for Questions from Readers

2nd Edition mockup cover of My World War 2 Childhood (Book 1)

2nd Edition mockup cover of My World War 2 Childhood (Book 1)

Most readers have questions for Irene after reading her memoirs. When I accompanied her to a book club (largest I’ve ever been to with 20+ people), I took notes of their questions and her answers. You can leave a comment with your questions and we’ll try to get answers for you before A to Z Historical Treasure ends. (Q&A from notes–not transcription or video.)

Q. How and when did you begin writing?

A. Around 1980 I began. People think only Jewish people died, but that’s not true. A lot of Germans died in concentration camps. I had friends sent to Mauthausen.

Q. Was it hard or helpful to write it?

A. Very hard to write and then 9 years later I felt so much better with it written down. (Like is had been an albatross around the neck)

Q. It sounds harder under Stalin. To hear that 1st hand, well…we don’t usually get that. We hear a lot about soldiers, but to hear about a regular girl…

Working on 2nd edition cover of My Years Hidden As a Boy (Book 2)

Working on 2nd edition cover of My Years Hidden As a Boy  (Book 2)


A. Mama said you go as a boy or not at all.

Q. How long till you came to the USA?

A. (Escape was in 1953). 1959 we moved to Ft. Sill Oklahoma. “I’m in the wild west here,” I said. And my mother said “Oh no. Get out. Get out now!” I brought my hospital reference books in German.

…We were 3 years in Ethiopia then in Paris. So many French people spoke German. At market I tried English and the man at the stand said, “You are German. Speak German to us.”

Q. (People expressed interest in Irene’s German-American Club)

A. We meet in the Lutheran church. We speak German and English. Saxony was Lutheran. At club each told their story and people had a much harder time than I did.

The Hunger Days came up and a women’s mother was visiting. She said, “We were never hungry.”

“Well,” I said, “They were Nazis.”

Q. What was scariest?

A. When we went to Grandmother’s and artillery came in. It goes everywhere. And I thought when my knapsack got hit with a bullet.

We had to take the drugs to make sure the patient was getting the right pharmaceutical. Had to know by taste.

Q. How long were you in the mines?

A. Months. After that I would have died.

Q. What diseases did the miners have?

A. Lungs and for women uterus. I had to have mine removed. And I told my husband and he said, “It’s okay. We’ll adopt, after we get out of the army.” (They never did.)

Irene's World War 2 Childhood, (teen)Years Hidden As a Boy, and Escape to Freedom (East to West Berlin) Books 1, 2, and 3 in one volume.

Irene’s World War 2 Childhood, (teen)Years Hidden As a Boy, and Escape to Freedom (East to West Berlin) Books 1, 2, and 3 in one volume.

Q. When you escaped and that Doctor unlocked the window for you, did you ever have contact with him again?

A. No. I didn’t want to get them in trouble. I would have liked to contact the land lady but I was afraid to.

Q. Besides what you wrote, did informants in your building do other things?

One family…he checked if everybody was gone and reported people not in the basement (i.e. bomb shelter). And he said “They went to the roof and sent signals.”

Q. Did you have any writer support?

A. Walter (i.e. husband) pushed me. You have to have someone to push you to write this.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share?

A. People see what happened to me, but other people…like my friend from Luxembourg had a much harder time.

When my local book club read Irene’s book, a couple people had a hard time believing so much happened to one person. Yet, Irene emphasizes repeatedly that hers is only a small portion compared to so many other people who had it worse. She has such respect for these survivors and for being as accurate as she could in her memory. Anne Frank is often held up as the example, to represent the Jewish struggle during the holocaust. Irene Kucholick’s memoirs serve as tribute to other peoples so affected and to the many she knows personally.

Remember to send in your own questions and add Survive Little Buddy to your Want To Read list.

Meanwhile…up next is R is for Russian Accordion.


Kristin King is the publisher of Survive Little Buddy, Irene Kucholick’s Iron Curtain Memoirs. When not doing this A to Z theme, Kristin blogs about life as an expat in Holland, reading, soulful Sundays, and recently began Foodie Fridays.The Best Practices for Blogs say to focus one subject….

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Posted by on April 20, 2016 in Memoirs & History


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P is for Publishing Unexpectedly

If  you are blogging, you are publishing. On a regular basis you are putting content out there for the world to find (or not) and read or peruse. You are both writer and publisher. That’s how our books started out as well. My husband and I finished our first novels, sought agents, pitched, and found out our books were not marketable enough for the investment of a big traditional publisher. So we became the publishers ourselves.

Publishing other people’s’ work was not part of the plan. Rather, our stated mission is to encourage others to write and take the road we have. Get your stuff out there! As a reader and bibliophile, thinking of finished stories languishing in a box, on a drive or floating inaccessible on a cloud creates a strange ache in my chest. With millions upon millions of readers, some of them are waiting for you story, your book, your voice to reach them.

Irene’s manuscript was actually the first that came to me while I was wearing my publisher hat. I published an anthology for my youth writers group as a charitable project called Living WaterWorks. One of my students told me her grandmother’s best friend wrote a book. Would I take a look at it? Well, of course. How could I say no to one of my mentees?

If you’ve been reading the A to Z excerpts, you have glimpsed a small part of what drove me to publish, to take on someone else’s works and bring their story to you. It was unexpected, this must-do urge that came over me when reading Irene’s memoirs. I could not let myself be just one of a handful that got to read her amazing World War 2 childhood, the way she hid as a boy for 3 years traveling East Germany and sneaking across the border to provide for her family, how her nursing career came to be and operated under Soviet communism, how she narrowly escaped to freedom.

Publishing Unexpectedly.  Now Irene has readers, though not nearly enough IMO. Such testimony should be heard far and wide, spoken of beside other non-fiction must-reads of the era.

Do you have questions for Irene or me about the times? Others who’ve read her books certainly have. Are you or someone you know sitting on a book? Get it out there!

Coming next….Q is for Questions from Readers


Kristin King finds more questions every time she reads Irene’s books. Her biggest question though is will she get to see Irene again, do a book signing together, eat another Applebee’s special. Holland is a long way from Maryland, but she sincerely hopes so.





Posted by on April 19, 2016 in Memoirs & History


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L is for Louis Armstrong in Africa #AtoZchallenge Historical Treasure @AprilA2Z Video

Terry Teachouts book about Louis Armstrong - wonder if it describes his time in Africa?

Terry Teachouts book about Louis Armstrong – wonder if it describes his time in Africa?

When I mentioned our older sons are from Ethiopia, Irene said, “Oh, I lived there for a while.” I was floored. You read her memoirs of World War 2 and the Cold War and think you know so much, but Irene is full of surprises and great stories.

She was telling me about Africa and Khartoum in particular, how nice things were, how great the people were, and how she met Louis Armstrong.


Known also as Satchmo or Pops, Louis Armstrong was not only an African-American trumpeter, composer and singer but was also one of the most influential figures in jazz. His career spanned five decades, from the 1920s to the 1960s, and different eras in jazz. (wikipedia)

In her own words, here is a video of Irene as she recounts meeting Louis Armstrong.

Visit my fellow AtoZer, JazzFeathers, for a great photo of Louis Armstrong and discussion of Dixieland music a well as A to Z jazz music articles, videos, and photos all month-long.

Coming up next here (drum roll please)…M is for Music to Survive


Kristin King first arranged to meet Irene Kucholick at Duclaws in the Arundel Mills Shopping Mall in Hanover, Maryland. Because Irene mentioned in her book sitting at Sanssouci in Potsdam (Berlin), and the gardens there are favorites where Kristin has sat as well, she took a framed photo to the meeting. Thankfully, Irene did not think Kristin was crazy, and thus began a lovely friendship and partnership.


Posted by on April 14, 2016 in Memoirs & History


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J is for Jews in Hiding #AtoZChallenge Historical Treasure @AprilA2Z

Found on Pinterest, a photo from the gallery of

Found on Pinterest, a photo from the gallery of

On a recent visit to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam with my niece, I was reminded that it is still not known who betrayed the Frank family. I was also reminded of the courage of those who helped them, only a few people who risked so much to do the right thing.

In Chemnitz, Germany, Irene’s family was one of the few trusted with the secret kept to save lives. (Selected excerpts from “Survive Little Buddy” Book 1, My World War 2 Childhood. All rights reserved.)

Herr Baustein came back to his non-Jewish wife….He had been gone three months but knew he would be picked up again. He was ordered to divorce his wife, otherwise she would have to go into a camp with him. Their son, Jedidiah, was arrested and they did not know what happened to him.

“I don’t want her to go into a camp. Dear God, help us!”

….One morning Mama went out, early as usual, to the dairy store. She came back, shaking all over and crying. All the neighbors in our building cam out into the hall.

“The truck!” she cried. “They are at the Zweiniger dance hall. They are loading family after family into them. The Gestapo has been gathering people all night.”

Everyone ran to the dance hall.

“Get out of here or we’ll put you in these trucks too!” threatened the uniformed and plainclothesmen.

….The police came to the Cohen family who lived in back of their shoe store across the street. Their three sons, Tobias, Simon and Abner….were not home. One neighbor said he thought they had gone one way, another neighbor said another way; everyone cooperated in confusing the police.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 11.44.49 AM….As many Jewish families were disappearing regularly, some of our neighbors decided to dig caves where such families could hide….The fear of informers was so great, only a very few people knew of the plan or were allowed to work on the project.

….The Cohens worked on the digging and slept in the caves even before they were finished….Papa helped brace the ceiling with railroad ties.

….Every other day Mama took some meals late at night to the cave. She covered the food with potato peelings just in case some suspicious person would see her. Those peelings were fed to the rabbits mixed with some grated wheat.

I heard that Esther Goldberg [Irene’s playmate] and her family moved into the caves. The hidden people now totaled nine.

Salute to helpers known and unknown.  Otto Frank and the Helpers A photo taken in October 1945. From left to right: Miep Gies, Johannes Kleiman, Otto Frank, Victor Kugler, and Bep Voskuijl. (

Salute to helpers known and unknown.
Otto Frank and the Helpers
A photo taken in October 1945. From left to right: Miep Gies, Johannes Kleiman, Otto Frank, Victor Kugler, and Bep Voskuijl. (

….When we washed clothes for the hidden people we could see the fabric was wearing to shreds….Mama took the clothes we got from the Diakonissen sisters to the hidden people. One day Papa brought home some “army uniforms”….the Cohen boys were grateful for them.

In the late fall and winter when evenings were quickly dark, the ever hungry Cohen boys, dressed in their army uniforms, would slip through the courtyard fence and line up with the soldiers in temporary quarters outside the dance hall where the Army cooks dished out stew and bread.

[Over the next two years…]

….Policemen continually watched the neighborhood for some signs as to the whereabouts of the Jewish families. I just knew there must be more Jewish people in hiding all over Germany, being protected and helped by friends. Of course, we spread a lot of rumors that ll the Jewish people had been already picked up, and they ought to get their records straight.

Herr Helbig, another friend who drove a truck for the cities’ food supplies, came by our house often….”For them,” he used to say.

Resourceful and courageous. In the midst of darkest days, there shines a light. I believe that. So next will be K is for Kindnesses.


Kristin King is an indie author who published Irene Kucholick’s memoirs because she saw them as a historical treasure. “Preserving and distributing them means a lot to me.”


Posted by on April 12, 2016 in Memoirs & History


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H is for Hidden as a Boy #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z

Working on 2nd edition cover of My Years Hidden As a Boy

Working on 2nd edition cover of My Years Hidden As a Boy

The why for Irene posing as a boy for 3 years is fairly obvious after F is for Fear of Rape. What about the how? In the post war Russian occupied area where she lived, how does one pull that off?

For me, I’m always asking myself how does a second book in a series out sell the first twice over? What seems to do it is the title of Irene’s 2nd memoir, My Years Hidden as a Boy. Of course, I encourage anyone interested to get all three of her memoirs together in one volume, Survive Little Buddy.

The following excerpt spans Book 1 and Book 2. Irene’s story in her own words (Edited for space. All rights reserved.):

A refugee family with eight daughters, fleeing from Latvia, stopped in Euba and was assigned living quarters….When I mingled with these people, I realized how shabby my clothes had become compared to the pretty dresses worn by the refugee girls. Of course they were able to brin things with them. We had lost everything in the fire. There was absolutely no clothing of any kind for sale in the remaining stores.

The mayor decided to take the only existing, broken down truck Euba had and try to drive to a uniform factory in Chemnitz. This was the only hope that we had to get something warm to wear….He asked a few of us from Chemnitz along, since we were familiar with the location of the factory. [Diving bombing adventure follows]

….I was given more than one whole outfit, black coats, and felt boots, enough clothing for everyone in our family….From that time on, I wore the black uniform with no military rankings, shirts and everything else. [My World War 2 Childhood excerpt, Book 1 of The Iron Curtain Memoirs]

….One day Mama said, “Irene, with your slight build you look more like a boy than a girl in those black SS trousers and your felt boots.”

I laughed. “Maybe I should get a man’s haircut.”

“Not a man’s cut, but with a shorter cut and that cap pulled down, you’d look more like a 14-year-old-boy than a 16-year-old girl.”

“I’d feel a lot safer from the Russian soldiers if they thought I was a boy.”

"Refugees Crowding Trains" Visit War History Online for this and other images.

“Refugees Crowding Trains”
Visit War History Online for this and other images.

Thus I assumed the disguise of a boy. Mama cut my hair shorter and I kept part of it hanging over my forehead. The poorly fitted black pants and shirt, along with the oversized boots, made it possible….I often made it a point to have a runny nose to further my disguise. This pretense as a boy was to serve me well for a few years.

….Since few women went out during evening hours or at night because of the danger of rape, my boy disguise gave me some protection and much greater freedom to move about. With Krista in the role as my sister she was not bothered by the Russians. We became skilled at bartering as we roamed the countryside and the railroad stations looking for food. We traded some of the Meissen porcelain figures that Grandma had given us for food. Of course Meissen figurines were valuable antiques, but hunger hurts. We bartered everything away. [Excerpt from My Years Hidden As a Boy, Book 2 of The Iron Curtain Memoirs]

Irene’s bartering took her further afield. West Germany had so many more supplies, and her heroic border crossings brought the necessities for he family to survive. She traveled with her younger brother’s identity papers, an option many others did not have and which aided her ruse. Encounters with Russian patrols, frequent train searches, and other heroic adventures were Irene’s as she struggled to provide for her family.

Would you like to meet Irene, the woman herself? Stay tuned then for your face-to-face via videos.

I is for Interviews with Irene.

Meanwhile a big shout out to these fellow AtoZers:

Check out Amish Humor at A Joyful Chaos.

Enjoy a hot cup of Kaapi while reading Lata Sunil’s story from India.

Drop by Miss Andi’s unconventional music blog.


Kristin King is an NGO co-founder, author, publisher, and finished this post while on the sidelines of her younger sons’ soccer practice. In her living room you will find a Meissen collectible, a miniature cup and saucer, given to Kristin by Irene. Another small treasure among the many Irene’s given.



Posted by on April 9, 2016 in Memoirs & History


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