My Dear Boy

My Dear Boy : A World War II Story of Escape, Exile, and Revelation

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After her parents' death in 2000, author Joanie Holzer Schirm found hundreds of letters held together by rusty paperclips and stamped with censor marks, sent from Czechoslovakia, Great Britain, China, South and North America, along with journals, vintage film, taped interviews, and photographs. In working through the various materials documenting Oswald "Valdik" Holzer's journey from Czechoslovakia to China, America to Peru and Ecuador, Schirm learned of her family history through her father's experience of exile and loss, resiliency and hope.

In this poignant, posthumous memoir, Schirm reconstructs 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 resettles in America to start a family. Encountering a diverse cast of characters from the humorous to the menacing, Holzer's corresponded with family, friends, and authorities across Europe, China, and the Americas. After the war, Holzer receives a letter from his father "that changed everything". Written in 1942 before his parents were transported to a Nazi death camp, the letter begins: "My dear boy." The legacy of this remarkable piece of correspondence is the book's culmination-a universal formula for redemption and triumph.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 152 x 228 x 27.94mm | 635.03g
  • Lincoln, United States
  • English
  • 1640120726
  • 9781640120723

Table of contents

Preface: Valdik's Flight (Valdik Holzer: March 1939)
Introduction: How Emptying Boxes Filled My Life (Joanie Holzer Schirm, 2018)
Valdik's Story
1. A Gifted Life
2. Bohemian Recollections
3. A World at War
4. A House of Many Rooms
5. ""Without books, history is silent.""
6. Proud Czechs First
7. As if Stopped Mid-Gesture: Cafe Manes
8. In Service of a Doomed Country
9. Compassionate Strangers
10. The Long Route to China
11. China Pulls Me In
12. A World Apart
13. Snowdrifts, Machine Guns, and Prayers
14. Learning to Love Peking and Its Forbidden City
15. Outback of Nowhere-Pingting
16. Love Breathes Life into the Heart
17. Leaving China
18. From Freedom to Infamy
19. A New Life in a New World
20. The Letter That Changed Everything
21. Dealing with the Outcome
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Review quote

"This stunning tribute to Schirm's father's legacy of service reminds us that our examination of the human heart as individual characters should lead us to protect the dignity of all others, no matter the friction of our differences."--Buddy Dyer, mayor of Orlando--Buddy Dyer (09/14/2018) "A fascinating and very poignant story of professionalism, dedication, and survival! I understand Joanie Schirm's efforts to preserve the details of her father's saga."--Lee R. Hiltzik, PhD, assistant director and head of donor relations and collection development at the Rockefeller Archive Center, New York-- (09/14/2018) "Out of the emotional landscape of her father's experiences comes an extraordinary story of hope, passionately written . . . . At the heart of this book is the message in one letter that changed the way Dr. Holzer lived his life. This book is a labor of love for a daughter who tells a compelling story of a father who lived an exemplary life."--Bill Nelson, U.S. senator, Florida-- (09/14/2018) "I sometimes wonder what I would have done. . . . Would I have seen that the only real choice for survival was to leave the people I loved and everything I knew? Or would I have stayed, confident (wrongly so) that things would get better? Thank you for touching my heart and moving me to think about questions like that."--Laurie Lee, former deputy director of Just Read, Florida! Florida Department of Education-- (09/14/2018) "Through her books and the meticulous research that supports them, Joanie has brought to light the remarkable Holocaust story of her father, Oswald Holzer, and his friends as they fled occupied Czechoslovakia."--Mitchell Bloomer, resource teacher at the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida--Mitchell Bloomer (09/14/2018) "The Oswald A. Holzer archival collection is one of the most substantive and comprehensive collections I've reviewed about a particular individual's experience during the time period relating to the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. From this rich information, author Joanie Schirm has created a story that brings this tumultuous past to life again and today echoes loudly as a warning we must heed."--Allan J. Stypeck, accredited senior appraiser, American Society of Appraisers-- (09/14/2018) "Educators will find no better book than My Dear Boy to provide the sweeping context of pre- and World War II multi-continental events during the late 1930s and early 1940s."--William "Bill" Younglove, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Fellow--William "Bill" Younglove (09/14/2018) "My Dear Boy, which shares an incredible story through voices of seventy-year-old letters, including a father's timeless message, will bring our world more peace and tolerance."--Dr. Navid Vahidi, member of the Orlando Baha'i community-- (09/14/2018) "Schirm's power as a writer lies in her gift of crystalline focus. Her family story is one of grace in the face of universal struggle: full of awe, dappled synchronicities, and complicated life 'happenings' that touch one's core. It is a gift for the next generation and the next."--Pat Williams, senior vice president of the Orlando Magic and author of Coach Wooden's Forgotten Teams-- (09/14/2018) "We learn from My Dear Boy how refugees and survivors in World War II were thrown into the midst of historical events and how they acted. There is enormous educational potential in the story of Dr. Oswald Holzer. We meet a man with values who never lost his empathy towards the 'other.' We learn that trauma often is overcome by resilience. Holzer's life can teach future generations about history and humanity."--Susanne Urban, PhD, former head of Historical Research and Education at the International Tracing Service, Germany-- (09/14/2018) "Soul-searching, real, and human. . . . By sharing her father's story and the four hundred letters he left behind, Joanie has given him immortality."--Moying Li, award-winning author of Snow Falling in Spring: Coming of Age in China during the Cultural Revolution-- (09/14/2018) "Funny, sad, poignant, insightful, and spiritual, My Dear Boy is simply captivating and lovingly told by his daughter, a rare English-speaking writer who really seems to understand Bohemia. I could not put it down."--P. R. Pinard, PhD, American historian working in Prague since 1993-- (09/14/2018) "A personal story of the triumph of the human spirit and the universal quest for peace, Joanie Holzer Schirm's My Dear Boy takes us on a journey around much of the world, traversing history as well as geography. It is a timeless and moving World War II story told by the author through the words of her refugee father."--Nina Streich, executive director, Global Peace Collaborative-- (09/14/2018)
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About Joanie Holzer Schirm

Joanie Holzer Schirm was the founding president of Geotechnical and Environmental Consultants, Inc., in Orlando, Florida, which she directed for seventeen years. She is now a full-time writer, speaker, and curator of the Holzer Collection, her father's World War II legacy. Schirm is the author of Adventurers against Their Will: Extraordinary World War II Stories of Survival, Escape, and Connection-Unlike Any Others, winner of the Global Ebook Award for best biography.
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Rating details

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