My Mother's Secret
A Novel Based on a True Holocaust Story
ISBN 9780698151529 | 208 pages | 05 Sep 2013 | Putnam Adult | 18 - AND UP
Summary of My Mother's Secret Summary of My Mother's Secret Reviews for My Mother's Secret An Excerpt from My Mother's Secret
A novel based on a true story, a mother and daughter risk their lives to provide shelter to two families and a German soldier--all unbeknownst to each other--in a tiny two-room house in Sokal, Poland, during the Nazi invasion.
Based on a true story, MY MOTHER'S SECRET is a profound, captivating, and ultimately uplifting tale intertwining the lives of two Jewish families in hiding from the Nazis, a fleeing German soldier, and the clever and "righteous" mother and daughter who teamed up to save them.
Franciszka and her daughter, Helena, are unlikely heroines. They are simple people who mind their own business and don't stand out from the crowd. Until 1939, when crisis strikes. The Nazis have invaded Poland and they are starting to persecute the Jews. Providing shelter to a Jew has become a death sentence. And yet, Franciszka and Helena decide to do just that. In their tiny, two-bedroom home in Sokal, Poland, they cleverly hide one Jewish family of two brothers and their wives in their pigsty out back, another in a makeshift cellar under the kitchen floorboards, and a defecting German soldier in the attic--each group completely unbeknownst to the others. For everyone to survive, Franciszka will have to outsmart her neighbors and the German commanders standing guard right outside her yard.
Told simply and succinctly from four different perspectives, MY MOTHER'S SECRET is a reminder that you don’t have to be extraordinary to make a difference. You can become extraordinary by making a difference.
This book was inspired by the true story of Franciszka Halamajowa, who, with her daughter, saved the lives of fifteen Jews in Poland during the Second World War. She also hid a young German soldier in her attic at the same time. Before the war, there were six thousand Jews in Sokal, Poland. Only thirty survived the war and half of those did so because of Franciszka.
This book is fictional, but it was inspired by the true story of Franciszka Halamajowa, who with her daughter saved the lives of fifteen Jews in Poland during the Second World War. She also hid a young German soldier in her attic at the same time. Her son died while transporting a wagon full of supplies to partisan Jews hiding in the forest.
Before the war, there were six thousand Jews in Sokal, Poland. Only thirty survived the war and half of those because of one Polish woman, Franciszka.
I believe that all of us, like Franciszka, have within us the potential to be great. Sometimes we coast through life without this potential surfacing because life has been easy on us.
When we have much to lose, but still choose to do the right thing, we uncover the nobility that is within all of us. To endure what is unbearable and to do it with grace, that is how we know that we have arrived.
Trip to Israel
In 2012, I visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, where there is a tree planted and a plaque to honor Franciszka Halamajowa and her daughter, Helena.
People who were not Jewish, but who nevertheless risked their lives to help the Jews escape execution during the Holocaust, are recognized as “the Righteous among the Nations” in Israel. This is how Franciszka and her daughter are remembered.
It was my son, Matthew, who actually found the tree, as bushes had grown in front of the plaque, preventing me from seeing it initially.
Upon seeing their names there in print before me, I was overcome with emotion.
I had written about this woman and her daughter and had imagined their lives, but here was evidence that they indeed did exist. I didn’t realize how deeply I would feel until this moment.
Planting a tree to remember them by feels so right.
To keep up-to-date, input your email address, and we will contact you on publication
Please alert me via email when: