The Next Chapter is my mother’s personal story of her recovery after imprisonment in a Nazi slave labor camp during World War II to retirement in La Jolla; she wrote it at the age of 74 on an electric typewriter. She emphasized that this is not a Holocaust memoir but rather a psychological exploration of what it takes to persevere, survive and try to resume a “normal” life after severe trauma.
The Next Chapter describes what it was like to live through the horrors of World War II in occupied Czechoslovakia, endure concentration and labor camps, and then try to resume a “normal” existence in a hostile and alien world.
My mother’s account emphasizes, however, that this is not a Holocaust book but rather an examination of reality under totalitarian oppression. She makes it a point of explaining that the Nazis were not only after the Jews—but wanted to exterminate all dissidents including gypsies, communists and homosexuals. Hers is a story of the inner spirit to recover and to return to a life of love, freedom and personal fulfillment.
The book combines personal anecdotes with psychological insight. My mother survived with the help of an inner alter ego she calls “Miriam” – her middle name. She consults Miriam at various junctures to get the strength to go on and also to try to make sense of a world seemingly gone mad.
The manuscript was accepted by a literary agent shortly before my mother’s death and was well-received though it remained unpublished. My mother did not seek recognition nor did she have a “platform.” However, shortly before her death, concerned by the rise of Revisionists (deniers of her experiences), she visited high schools to discuss her experiences and was warmly received and hugged by students.
The four leaf clovers on the cover are the original ones found by my mother upon her liberation from the Mauthausen labor camp, and preserved in a cigarette package. They are physical evidence that her story is true.
With the advent of electronic scanning and self-publishing, I wanted to finally make her story available to all who might be interested, and who could learn and be moved by it.