“Without remembrance, there can be no future.”
Dr. Thomas Klestil, president of Austria, at the 55th anniversary of the liberation of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp

This site is dedicated to the men and women of WWII and to preserving their stories so that the next generations will understand their incredible sacrifices.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Vytas and Danute by Deanna Klingel

Russia invaded Lithuania when Vytas and Danute were nine years old. Both their families walked away - yes, literally walked away, from the home they loved, where as children they played and worked, Vytas on a farm, Danute in the city. 
Vytas's farm family walked, moving from farm to farm in Prussia working for German farmers. When the front reached them, they headed into Germany for safety. As they came to the narrow bridge crossing the border with thousands of others, Vytas's father noticed the massive traffic jam of wagons, walkers and bikers continuing on the highway. He decided to take his family a different way. Those traveling with the family objected. Surely, they thought, it would be safer to stay with the group. The side road through the forest was hard to travel and would take longer. His father acknowledged that was all true. But, he said, those on the highway are sitting ducks. They were barely into the forest when the planes swept down over the mass of people, Lithuanians and retreating Germans, on the highway; sitting ducks. 
Danute's family tried to leave by train. They procured space on a train bribing the engineer with a radio. The space he gave them was buried beneath the coal pile in the engine room. Trying not to breathe in the coal dust and aching with the weight of the coal, they were grateful for what they thought would be safe passage into Germany. The engineer betrayed them, keeping the radio. When they finally managed a place on another train, they learned only Germans and injured soldiers were allowed off the train at the German stops. They crisscrossed eastern Europe several times, imprisoned on the train, before finally making their way into Germany, and disembarking, where the refugees were supposedly safe.
The entire story of Vytas and Danute is told in a new release Rock and Hard Place, A Lithuanian Love Story. The title refers to the Lithuanian people caught between a Russian invasion and a German betrayal. Their stories begin in 1930 and continue into the 80's. Theirs is an inspirational story of faith and courage and love. As the book releases this week, the author notes with sadness that this week it could be re titled to Rock and a Hard Place, A Ukrainian Horror Story. 
Deanna lives in the mountains of western North Carolina with her childhood sweetheart and their rescued golden retriever, Buddy. She belongs to a bookclub and the Cashiers, NC Writers Group. The author is a member of Society of Children's  Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), North Carolina Writers Network (NCWN), and Catholic Writers  Guild (CWG). Learn more about her and her books by going to her website

Monday, February 17, 2014

In Honor of Max Dean - by his daughter Diane Dean White

Max Dean entered the USN the fall after his high school graduation. After joining the Navy, Max spent a few months stateside in Philadelphia playing trombone in the band and was asked to remain instead of going on a ship. He was from a small town in the thumb of Michigan and wanted to see the world.
In his late seventies he spoke about the places he’d been during his four years, having received ribbons for serving in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatre. I wished I’d taped those conversations.

My dad didn’t talk about the war. It wasn’t until I was in high school and reading the required book, The Bomb that Fell on Hiroshima, that he opened up to me. When I told him about the report I was going to write, he added some information. His Navy LST (landing ship tank) was in route to take Marines over to Hiroshima when they hit a reef, which made the LST tip and sink. The guys were close to another ship, so they threw a rope and a breeches buoy was put into service to rescue the sailors from the damaged LST. Dad said once they got to Hiroshima, you could see forever because there was nothing to view - just openness where the bomb hit. The only way you could tell a place existed above ground was from the vaults that were seen periodically when walking. He was tested for radiation for two years following his release from the USN.
When Dad left this earth for his heavenly residence in 2004, mother gave me an album he’d kept while serving in WWII. He was a radio man on the ship and learned how to type. He collected currency from countries where he’d traveled. They were paper, and may have been for five, ten or fifteen cents, and different colors and sizes. He typed information about them. One story remained with me, and I’ll share that.

Dad and two other sailors went into an areas where Japanese people had businesses, and often took something to barter with. He had sugar to trade for Sake cups that he brought back and are mine. One day a couple with a four year old girl pleaded with dad to take their child back to America on the ship. I don’t know what they were willing to give, but of course, the men would never do that. The urgency to give their daughter to someone they didn’t know, to keep her safe, tugged at my dad’s heart, and it was sometime before he could stop thinking about it, if he ever did.

We know war is horrible, but WWII had the support of those around the country on the home front. My mother sold war bonds and was the Victory Queen, wearing a long formal, her attendants seated on a float beside her. Parades were part of what was done to support the War; writing letters to those in service, sending baked goods and giving up certain things during these years was never questioned. I’m grateful for the book I have, now in safe-keeping, and I’m glad Dad thought of keeping his memories to share.

Diane started her writing career at an early age when she asked for a typewriter for Christmas. She pounded the keys writing poetry and short stories in grade school on an old black Royal manual. It wasn’t until her husband’s work took them to a southern town she wrote her first column, “Yankee Viewpoint’s” for a local newspaper, covering hard news and feature stories in the area. Upon returning to their home-state of Michigan, she did stringer work, ancestral history, and donor appeal letters for non-profit organizations; while doing her favorite job ever, as a stay-at-home Mom. She is the author of Beach Walks and Carolina in the Morning. Diane was a columnist for a weekly magazine, for four years, and her stories have appeared in a number of magazines and books. She is the author of over three-hundred short stories. Her book, newly released, On a Summer Night, is a story of suspense and romance. She and hubby, Stephen, have been married for forty-one years, and they are the parents of three grown children and three grand-gals. Diane thanks the Lord daily for her loving husband, three great kids and for giving her the desires of her heart.
Visit Diane on her website at www.DianeDeanWhite.com
Like her Author Page:Diane's Author Page

Diane’s Video, On a Summer Night~
Youtube video, click below: