that What They Could Not Forget has won several 2009 CIPA(Colorado Independent Publishers Association) EVVY AWARDS: First Place in the Memoirs category, First Place for Cover Design, First Place for Interior Layout, and the Past Presidents Award for the best book overall.
And, our book is the Silver Award winner of the Autobiography/Memoir category in the 2009 IPPY Awards .
For decades, I've had a burning desire to share my parents' Holocaust experiences with others. This has been my goal because I feel it's important that we as a society learn from the mistakes we've made. Continuing and encourgaging dialogue are avenues we can take to precipitate just that. This book is a tool that can help us.
I'm overjoyed and proud to already present the 2ND edition of What They Could Not Forget: Holocaust Memoirs of Leo and Wjera Ringel. This is my tribute to not only my parents and my family members, but also to all of the other families that were forced to fight for their lives. Some were successful, but millions were not.
The following is a vignette from my book. The setting of this particular part of the narrative is Skarzysko-Kamienna, a concentration camp in Poland where my father was sent during part of World War II. Here he was forced to manufacture land mines using a toxic chemical known as picric acid.
During his time as foreman, my father became a folk hero of sorts among the other camp prisoners. He tells me he “cheated the Germans all this time” by letting his workers take breaks, and keeping a pace that was relaxed by factory standards. Quotas, of course, were not met, but the shortages were kept hidden in the lower layers of the boxes.
“By practicing this procedure, I was actually committing sabotage,” my father explains. “As long as it lasted, everybody was benefiting. I was regarded as a proficient foreman, the German supervisor enjoyed a good reputation among the higher German authorities, and – what is most important – the workers had a chance to work more lightly.”
Amazingly to me, and probably to my father as well, he was able to maintain this scenario for about a year. But one day he says “the bubble burst,” as he probably always suspected in the back of his mind it would. One of the workers – Leo never knew which one – denounced him to the German supervisor. In turn, the supervisor, who felt he had to take a hard-line stance in the presence of both the camp prisoners and his own authorities, reported Leo and had him arrested.
I always found it absurd that they would “arrest” someone who is already a prisoner in one of the most hellish places imaginable.
“Dad, were you put in a special jail cell?” I interjected as he was telling me his story.
“Yes, a special jail cell,” he says. “It was such a small room, with a window and that’s all.”
“Where did you go to the bathroom?”
“They didn’t care if I had to go or not!” he exclaims sardonically.
“Well, where did you go?” I was feeling persistent on this day.
“I don’t remember now, but probably I was so afraid that I didn’t have to go,” he finally answers, somewhat annoyed with me now. “I probably got constipated.”
After a brief pause, my father’s irritation melts and he begins laughing. I laugh with him a little, and he says, “Okay, let me continue.”
Alone with his thoughts in the cramped cell, Leo contemplated his execution. Saboteurs were shot or hanged for their so-called crimes, and my father expected that his turn was coming any day now..................