My Mother's Secret: Based on a True Holocaust Story

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9781475962574: My Mother's Secret: Based on a True Holocaust Story

Franciszka and her daughter are unlikely heroines. They are simple people who don't stand out... that is, until there is a crisis. In 1939, the Nazis come to Poland and start to persecute the Jews. These are unreasonable times when providing shelter to a Jew has become a death sentence. Despite this, both Franciszka and her daughter hide Jewish families and a German soldier in their small home. For all of them to survive, she will have to outsmart the German commander and her neighbors.

When you look at a piece of steel, can you tell whether it is the ordinary kind used to make forks and knives or whether it is the superstrength type used to construct bridges and high-rises? The honest answer is no. You cannot tell until you apply extreme pressure. People are like that.

This story is a reminder that there are no profiles for courage and character, and that who we become is always a personal choice.

This is my first book, but it feels like something that has been waiting for me for a while.

I just had to be still enough to hear it. As the words flowed and formed, shaping ideas in their dance, it felt divine.

Writing was a process far more intimate than I could have predicted. To be authentic and honest, it is your own life that you draw upon and so, telling a story reveals the truths that reside in your own heart.

I loved creating this story. To be able to say that anything is possible if we connect with each other through kindness, understanding, and courage—and to do it with reference to true events—well, that was exhilarating.

If this story somehow manages to touch you, if it somehow manages to remind you of your own humanity, then I will be incredibly happy.

Living with gratitude,

J. L. Witterick

jenny@mymotherssecret.com

mymotherssecret.com

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About the Author:

J.L. Witterick always wanted to write a book that would make a difference. She found inspiration to do so based on a true story of courage that occurred during the Holocaust. A child of poor immigrants, she learned empathy, compassion and kindness first hand and wrote it into this story. Now an accomplished investment professional, she has decided to donate proceeds of the book sold at Indigo/Chapters to the Love of Reading Foundation, which buys books for children who cannot afford them. She remembers buying used books from the Salvation Army for 5 and 10 cents when she was a child. J.L. Witterick lives in Canada.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

This book is fictional, but it was inspired by the true story of Franciszka Halamajowa, who with her daughter saved the lives of fifteen Jews in Poland during the Second World War. She also hid a young German soldier in her attic at the same time. Her son died while transporting a wagon full of supplies to partisan Jews hiding in the forest. Before the war, there were six thousand Jews in Sokal, Poland. Only thirty survived the war and half of those because of one Polish woman, Franciszka.  I believe that all of us, like Franciszka, have within us the potential to be great. Sometimes we coast through life without this potential surfacing because life has been easy on us.  When we have much to lose, but still choose to do the right thing, we uncover the nobility that is within all of us. To endure what is unbearable and to do it with grace, that is how we know that we have arrived.  Trip to Israel In 2012, I visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, where there is a tree planted and a plaque to honor Franciszka Halamajowa and her daughter, Helena.  People who were not Jewish, but who nevertheless risked their lives to help the Jews escape execution during the Holocaust, are recognized as “the Righteous among the Nations” in Israel. This is how Franciszka and her daughter are remembered.  It was my son, Matthew, who actually found the tree, as bushes had grown in front of the plaque, preventing me from seeing it initially.  Upon seeing their names there in print before me, I was overcome with emotion.  I had written about this woman and her daughter and had imagined their lives, but here was evidence that they indeed did exist. I didn’t realize how deeply I would feel until this moment.  Planting a tree to remember them by feels so right. 

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