Gallery: We Were the Lucky Ones

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Luck Was Only Part of It

It turns out my grandfather (who later changed his name, for obvious reasons, from Adolph/Addy to Eddy), was just one of over twenty Kurcs originally from Radom, Poland. He was living in Toulouse in ‘39 at the start of the war. When he learned it would be too dangerous to return home to Poland for Passover, he embarked on a singular mission: to get out of Europe. His escape wasn’t easy.

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NBC Today Show Shoutout

Congrats to Lauren Fox on her gorgeous new bestseller, Send for Me, featured as a Reading with Jenna bookclub selection. And a huge thanks to Lauren for picking We Were the Lucky Ones as a favorite book on her Today Show interview!

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Retracing the Kurc Family Odyssey, Part II: Italy

Last year, Robert and I set off on a weeklong, 685-mile journey through Poland, the Czech Republic, and Austria, following in the footsteps of my relatives, who traveled the same path seventy years before.

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Tracing the Family’s Footsteps: a 1,100-Kilometer Quest

The other day, when it registered that Wyatt would be starting school in a couple of weeks, I realized just how much of this summer has been devoted to The Eternal Ones.

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10K and Counting

I’d like to begin with a shout-out to my followers (yes, you!)—I don’t check my site stats all that often, but I’ve been putting together agent queries and I was thrilled to discover that my blog has received over 10,000 visits!

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Sweet Caroline

I left you last month with a post about my editor—and I promise to update you on Jane’s encouraging feedback at a later date. This post, however, I’d like to dedicate to my grandmother, Caroline, who passed away on Tuesday, two days short of her 100th birthday.

A pre-war ad for my grandparents' fabric store in Radom. Translated: "Silk goods, woolens and cotton, ladies' and men's, and a great range of curtains and caps, carpets and rugs."

Digging My Way to the Finish Line

Well folks, I’m mid-way through a second round of book edits, and if I squint hard enough, I think I can see the finish line!

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A Year-Old Search Bears Fruit, and Boggles the Mind

Last spring, I contacted the Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in DC, in hopes of tracking down some family records through the International Tracing Service (ITS), a German archive containing ~3o million WWII/Nazi-era documents.

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On Valentine’s, a Story of Love Lost, and Found

I’ll never forget the day I got the call. I was at my uncle’s house in Warwick, Rhode Island for dinner. My cell phone rang as we were sitting down to eat. Who did I know with a 919 area code? And then it dawned on me.

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Romance Amid Roadblocks Aboard the Ill-Fated S/S Alsina

Greetings and happy 2013! I hope you’re as excited as I am for what the new year has to bring. #1 on my list of resolutions this year is to complete a draft of The Lucky Ones by summertime. Wish me luck! I left you last with a snapshot of life for the Kurc siblings in December of…

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Does ‘We’re Sorry’ Cut It, Seventy Years Later?

Last April, I received a letter from the Memorial Center in Moscow—an organization I contacted in hopes of tracking down additional information about my great-uncle Genek, who was deported from Poland in 1941, along with his wife Herta, to one of Stalin’s Siberian gulags. A woman by the name of Olga Cheriepova, a member of the Memorial…

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A Tattoo that Says ‘Never Forget’

The Sunday before last, the New York Times published an article entitled Proudly Bearing Elders’ Scars, Their Skin Says ‘Never Forget.’ In it, journalist Jodi Rudoren describes a movement among twenty- and thirty-somethings to replicate the tattoos worn on the the forearms of their Holocaust-survivor relatives. I found the piece both chilling and inspiring. “When [21 year old]…

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"The Night Eight KGB Agents Burst Into My Flat"

Neck deep in research on Stalin’s Siberian gulags, I was consumed with the burning question of how and why Genek and Herta were sent off to Siberia in the first place. By recommendation of the Kresy-Siberia Foundation, I contacted Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Amazingly, I heard back right away—not only did Hoover have a record of Genek’s name, they had…

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Home Sweet Home

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the meaning of “home.” A month ago, after a seven-year stint in Seattle, Robert and I packed up six-month-old Wyatt and all of our belongings and caught a one-way flight to Connecticut. The day before our move, however, our CT lease fell through, and our world turned upside…

Copacabana Beach, 1941 (photo courtesy of Google Images)

We Have a Winner!

You guessed right, Daryl—the mosaic in the banner photo above lives just off the shore of Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Congratulations on being the first to respond correctly—your iTunes gift card is on the way (you should consider downloading Getz & Gilberto’s Girl from Ipanema to commemorate your win!). Robert and I visited…

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One, Last (mountainous) Clue

Thanks to all of you who have guessed/commented on last week’s “name that photo” contest. The verdict’s still out on where the banner shot (above) was taken…which means a $25 iTunes gift certificate is still up for grabs! I’ve decided to post one, last clue—a panned-out photo (below)—which I imagine will incite a few aha’s!…

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Underground in Miami

“I wasn’t the only one in the family with multiple identities,” Ricardo said when he’d finished explaining the story behind his two birth certificates. “During the war, my parents went by the name BRZOZA.” Ricardo’s father, it turns out, was part of the Jewish Underground. He made false papers. “How?” I asked. “He replicated the stamps…

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"What do you mean, I have two birthdays?"

A month after I returned from Paris, I flew to Miami to interview Ricardo, Anna’s older brother (my grandfather’s nephew). Ricardo was born just after the war, although when, and where exactly, seemed to be something of a mystery. “Ask him about his birthdays,” my mother suggested, before I left. “Birthday…S?” “Yeah. He has two of them.”…

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A Trove of Family Treasures in Paris

Hello, friends and family! Little Man Wyatt has rounded the three month bend and I’m happy to report that I’m back (well, almost) from the Land of the Sleep Deprived, and excited to get the ball rolling again on blog posts. I left you last in Paris, where I’d spent an afternoon interviewing Felicia (daughter of…

A photo taken of Felicia at age eighteen, found at the National Archives in Rio de Janeiro, attached to her naturalization records

Looking Back: Surviving the Holocaust, Through the Eyes of a Three-Year-Old

In February of ’08 I flew to Paris to interview two relatives: Felicia and Anna (daughters of Mila and Halina, my grandfather’s two sisters). Equipped with a digital voice recorder and an empty moleskin notebook (and a flutter in my stomach that kept me wide awake for the duration of my ten-hour overnight journey), February 11, 2008 will…

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Coincidence?

It was January 17th, 2008 when I finally picked my mother’s black binder up off the shelf. A new year, full of resolutions, including one big one—to unearth and record my family history. I sat cross-legged on my couch in Seattle, the binder resting on my lap, took a long, slow breath, and flipped it open.

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Passing of the Baton

I remember the day I told my mother I wanted to write a book about our family history. We were sitting on her gray and white-striped couch in Providence, Rhode Island, the day after Christmas, 2005. “I’ve decided I’d like to write a book about how Papa and his siblings survived the Holocaust,” I said.…

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Thirty-Two Relatives Under One Roof: a Raucous-Turned-Revelational Family Reunion

In July of 2000, the summer after I graduated from the University of Virginia, my mother organized a Kurc family reunion at our house on Martha’s Vineyard. She invited thirty-two relatives (many of whom she hadn’t seen in over twenty years), and to her surprise, all thirty-two RSVPed, “Of course we’ll be there!” We rented…