I love historical fiction. My favorite era is World War II. I’m not quite sure why–maybe there’s the underlying theme of saving the world. Today we have a guest post from Tricia Goyer, an author who writes historical fiction, among other things. I found her through my new job with Home Educating Family (she writes in their magazine). I can’t wait to read some of her books!
by Tricia Goyer
When researching for my first novel From Dust and Ashes, I heard the story of a group of prisoners at Mauthausen Concentration Camp that greeted American GIs by playing the United States’ national anthem. This one story became the building block for my second novel, Night Song. In my research, I also came upon another Nazi camp that not only held musicians within its walls, this camp was also used to fool the Red Cross.
Terezin was a fortress town in Czechoslovakia. It was there that the Jewish elite were sent…musicians, actors, painters, artists. They were promised a “safe place” to stay through the war. It was also within this walled ghetto that many children lived…and eventually died or were sent away to other camps. In fact, out of 15,000 children who passed through the gates of Terezin, less than 200 survived to tell the story of the walled town where music flourished even in the most difficult conditions.
The Red Cross was allowed to visit Terezin once. Before their arrival, 60,000 prisoners were sent away because of overcrowding. (Mostly to concentration camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau). The village was spruced up for the occasion. Certain inmates were dressed up and told to stand at strategic places along the specially designated route through Terezin. Shop windows along that carefully guarded path were filled with goods for the day. One young mother remembers seeing the bakery window and shelves suddenly filled with baked goods the inmates had never seen during their time at Terezin. Even the candy shop window overflowed with bon bons creating a fantastic illusion she would never forget. The Red Cross concluded that the Jews were being treated all right.
I was honored to visit Terezin in May 2003. I was also able to weave the tale of one young man from Terezin together with the stories of men of the 11th Armored Division–as survivors and liberators finally crossed paths at Mauthausen camp in Austria. Night Song is a story of sacrifice…and of hope. But even more amazing than the novel I was able to write, were the men I was blessed to interview. They are my heroes. In fact, here’s a poem I wrote for them:
By Tricia Goyer
I passed you on the street,
And did not know.
You are my grandfather,
And I did not ask.
I saw weak eyes,
Not realizing that inside was a warrior’s heart.
Tell me it is not too late, to thank you.
To applaud you.
Tell me it is not too late, to listen.
For your eyes have seen things,
Of soldiers and men.
And those hands,
Fought strong until they grasped freedom’s prize.
Those footsteps, steady and strong,
Once moved forward, facing death.
Realizing the cause was too great,
To stand and do nothing.
I will ask now.
And I will listen.
The warrior’s voice may tremble,
His eyes may tear.
But his stories will not be forgotten.
Wow, yet another amazing story from World War II! I think this poem is a great way for us to remember Veterans Day and reflect upon the many heroic things done on our behalf. Thank you, to all who served to keep us safe. Thank you, to everyone who currently serves to keep us safe. If you would like to leave a note of thanks or a memory, please do!
Tricia Goyer is a homeschooling mom of four and an acclaimed and prolific writer, publishing hundreds of articles in national magazines. She has also written books on marriage and parenting and contributed notes to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Tricia’s written numerous novels inspired by World War II veterans, including her new release Remembering You. Tricia lives with her husband and four children in Arkansas. You can find out more information about Tricia at www.triciagoyer.com