“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

My Dear Boy: A World War II Story of Escape, Exile, and Revelation – that includes Shanghai…

Posted: February 26th, 2019 | No Comments »

Some time ago Joanie Shirm was kind enough to share with me some of her father’s letters from Shanghai. She was, at the time, researching he family history. Now she has published it (Potomac Books)….It isn’t all Shanghai; but it is all fascinating…

After the death of Joanie Holzer Schirm’s parents in 2000, she found hundreds of letters, held together by rusted paperclips and stamped with censor marks, sent from Czechoslovakia, Great Britain, China, and South and North America, along with journals, vintage film, taped interviews, and photographs. In working through these various materials documenting the life of her father, Oswald “Valdik” Holzer, she learned of her family history through his remarkable experiences of exile and loss, resilience and hope.

In this posthumous memoir, Schirm elegantly re-creates her father’s youthful voice as he comes of age as a Jew in interwar Prague, escapes from a Nazi-held army unit, practices medicine in China’s war-ravaged interior, and settles in the United States to start a family. Introducing us to a diverse cast of characters ranging from the humorous to the menacing, Holzer’s life story is an inspirational account of survival during wartime, a cinematic epic spanning multiple continents, and ultimately a tale with a twist—a book that will move readers for generations to come.

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