This blog generally deals with technical topics only, but I am going to make an exception in this case. I guess I have that privilege — I make the rules here, after all!
I’ve been working on a side project for the last six or seven years, something completely unconnected with information technology. And after a lot of time, research and just plain work, it has finally come to fruition. I’ve been working on two books, getting them ready for publication.
My wife’s family is German. My mother- and father-in-law were from Memel, Germany, which is now Klaipeda, Lithuania. At the end of the war in Europe they had been living in Osterode in East Prussia (now Ostroda, Poland). As the Red Army invaded East Prussia in January 1945, the family (consisting of Dad, Mom, and four little girls aged 4 through 11) fled via rail toward Elbing, near the Baltic Coast. They got about halfway before a train wreck blocked further progress, and then there were on foot, walking near the rail line in the dead of a cold, cold winter, until they reached the town of Prussian Holland, which is where the Red Army caught up with them. They took shelter in an abandoned house.
They were able to stay in Prussian Holland while the Red Army flowed through on the way towards Berlin, until the military occupation authorities declared that all German adults must register. Mom and Dad left the kids in the house (a different one, because they had been forced to move), and duly went to report. They never returned, leaving the four little girls to fend for themselves in the burned out town. Both the father and mother were taken separately into the Soviet Union, where the Soviets took advantage of the Yalta Agreement provision permitting them to use “German labor” in rebuilding.
The two books track what happened to the little girls and their mother over the next four years, To this day, nobody knows what happened to the Dad. He never returned, which was the fate of nearly half of Germans taken into the Soviet Union to do forced labor. And over 500,000 were so taken. This is not including any prisoners of war taken during or after battle. And these half-million were all civilians, mostly women and old men.
The books themselves are the first person accounts of one of my sisters-in-law, and my mother-in-law. My SiL wrote her own book, titled Yesterday’s Sandhills, and I have edited it extensively over the past seven years (I’ve actually rewritten it five times, but decided in the end to go back and stick closer to her own version). My MiL’s account was actually originally a transcript (in German) of a tape recording of her telling her entire tale from the moment they left Osterode on the train, until she finally returned to East Berlin. My SiL provided my wife and I with the typed transcript, and we translated it into rough English. I have spent the last two years working to turn it into a viable story that could be made into a book. We’ve given this book the title The Bones of My People.
I am so relieved to finally be able to say: I’M DONE!!!! During the past week we have finally gotten both books into print, using Amazon’s CreateSpace, and both books are now available in both print and Kindle editions. Actually, the second one isn’t quite available on Amazon (in a few days it will be), but I can offer it on my CreateSpace eMarket already. It’s in the pipeline, though.
While I am happy to say I’M DONE, I’m not really done, of course. Since this is self-published (and we formed an actual publishing company with an EIN and all that), we still have to market the books or nobody will ever see them.
I am going to go to bed tonight and I will not set the alarm clock. I am sleeping in tomorrow, Saturday. I’ve been staying up into the wee hours for the last 2 weeks getting all this finalized and I declare that it is now vacation time. I am going to take a Saturday off. For the first time in months.
Available from Prospect Avenue Books!