“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

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