Posted on July 1st, 2009
Read 2,133 times.
A Perilous Journey Of Love And Faith
Take my advice, skip the review, save yourself some time, just head on over to Amazon and buy this book, it is an absolute cracker of a read!
Oh, you are still reading, I guess that means I'll have to write the review after all
One of my favorite genres of literature is what I refer to as living history, peoples stories told by those that knew them. Lizzi & Fredl is the story of an Austrian couple Alfred and Alice Steiner, and their struggles during the Second World War, the storyteller is their son William Stanford. In fact the story behind the book is nearly as fascinating as the book itself. Lizzi, Fredl and their young son immigrated to the US in 1950, as Bill entered adulthood he would occasionally make mention of their war experiences but neither would talk about them, either they would change the subject, or make some comment about talking another time.
It was not until the late 1990's that Fredl now in his eighties finally agreed to tell his story, likewise mother Lizzi gradually told of her experiences. Alas Fredl passed away in 2001, and Lizzi in 2004. This book is a memorial to two very brave young people.
We have all heard of the horror stories about the Nazi persecution of the Jews, however the Jews were not the only ones persecuted, and the Nazi's were by no means the only persecutors. Lizzi and Fredl were of the Roman Catholic faith, Lizzi a well respected dressmaker, and Fredl a master of fine jewelry.
Life was in many ways idyllic and the young couple enjoyed all of the finery that Vienna had to offer. Their life changed forever in August of 1938, the receipt of a single letter set in motion a series of events that would forever change their lives. The Republic of Germany demanded that Fredl present himself in Munich three days hence, and his new mission was to work in an aviation factory designing delicate timing devices for Hitler's bombs.
Appalled by the thought of assisting the madman the young couple decided to head to France, a place where they thought they would be safe from the clutches of Germany. They were joined on this flight to freedom by Fredl's two brothers, Ernstl and Fritz, plus their wives Elise and Betty.
Any illusions that the three couples had about France becoming a safe haven are quickly dashed. As war looms ever closer the French begin to treat foreign 'guests' with ever increasing distrust. It is not long before Fredl is separated from his wife and forced into a detention camp. The first in a series of ever deteriorating and humiliating places that he finds himself in.
He is forced under threat of being shot to dig roads, chop down trees, make charcoal for fuel, and various other tasks that he is ill equipped to perform, physically slight and unused to physical labor it is nothing short of a miracle he survived. We have heard many stories of the atrocities committed in the Nazi camps, and while the French ones were not death camps per se, they treated their prisoners like animals, in fact at one particular camp Fredl is actually forced to sleep on hay in a horse stall.
Lizzi while avoiding detainment faces ever increasing obstacles to survival, and is forced from town to town because of her ethnicity. Her situation becomes even more perilous with the arrival of the Germans. In fact were it not for the fact that an elderly and somewhat deaf official made a mistake while filling out an ID card Lizzi would almost certainly have found herself in a German concentration camp.
That is not to say that Lizzi and Fredl did not meet some good and well meaning French people, indeed they did, and it was these people that likely made the difference between life and death. Overall though, this book does not paint a rosy picture of the treatment that the French meted out.
Lizzi, William (Author), and Fredl
Their one desire throughout the war was to escape to the safety of the US, a goal that thwarted them time and time again. Even after the war had ended they still dreamed of a life in the 'New World', memories of the war were too painful to remain where they were. It took a total of 18 attempts to finally get accepted by the US. Their persistence paid off, and on Monday December/4 1950 the family got their first view of The Statue Of Liberty.
Gott im Himmel, danke Ihnen fur diesen Geschenk. Und danken Ihnen fur Ihre grenzenlose Gnade. God in heaven, thank you for this gift. And thank you for your boundless mercy, Fredl said as he stared into Lizzi's loving eyes. Sie haben mir meine Lebeb ruckseite gegeben, You have given me my life back.
Author William Stanford has taken an interesting approach to the layout of the book, essentially alternating perspectives from Fredl and Lizzi by chapter. What surprised me was how complete the accounts of the events are. William Stanford has done an outstanding job in bringing Lizzi and Fredl to life. I never met them, but through the written word I feel as if they are old friends.
You can get your own copy of Fredl & Lizzi from Amazon. William Stanford also has a web site that is well worth a visit.
Posted on July 6th, 2009
Read 2,077 times.
Lizzi & Fredl is one of the best books that I have read this year. Biographies tend to only be bestsellers if they concern some well known figure, yet those books hold little interest to me. I much prefer real stories about real people.
Bill Stanford has hit the nail on the head with his book, a biography of his parents experiences during WWII. Lizzi and Fredl were Austrians, they were not Jewish, they were Roman Catholics, Fredl was a well respected Master Jeweler, and Lizzi a dressmaker with a large following. Rather than support the Nazi movement they fled to France.
The treatment they received at the hands of the Vichy government was appalling.
I had the opportunity to talk with Bill Stanford, and as is not uncommon with my interviews, the allotted 30 minutes actually turned into almost an hour. A clear case of getting two people together who love to talk! Actually it was a wonderful interview, and I learned much that is not included in the book.
It took Bill 25 years of asking for his parents to finally tell their story. He had asked them countless times to share what happened before his birth, and each time Fredl would say 'Oh not this week, maybe next week', or just change the subject altogether. In 1998, with Fredl now in his late 80's Bill tried a new tactic. Refusing to be rebuked with the "maybe next week" response, Bill countered with "what if there is no next week?"
That comment gave Fredl some pause for thought, and finally he agreed that it was time to share the story.
Author Bill Stanford explains that even having agreement, it was still an uphill battle. Decades have passed, and the human memory is a strange storage device, often times it does not work in a neat chronological fashion...
This was a 15,000 piece jigsaw puzzle and at the beginning I had 200 pieces
Bill kept at the mission, and there is actually an amusing story concerning electronics, but I will not spoil that one, you will have to discover it for yourself.
Perseverance did pay off, and we now have what I class as a best seller.
One of the mysteries in the book is a photograph that Bill Stanford was given by someone he knew, It shows Hitler and some of his supporters gathered around a table.
Neither Bill nor I are experts on the subject, but I did a little digging, the internet is a wonderful place. I received some responses....
What I see on your picture is Hitler before 1933, and most likely before 1930. I´m quite sure its in Bavaria, probably the Bürgerbäukeller in Munich (you´ll hardly find those giant beer cups outside Bavaria). It seems to be an official Nazi party event of some smaller kind as can be guessed by the Flag and SA guard. As the later dictator is wearing a suit I think its relatively safe to say these men with Hitler are (local) businessmen or other influential persons. And they are party members, they wear a button, and what else could that be here than the NSDAP party membership-button.
Sorry to disappoint you, but this is a very well known photo, published many times. It shows Hitler with early NS party members, Strasser, Fiehler, Weber, Hitler, Schwarz, Amann and Graf (back of head could be Schaub).
You can listen to the whole interview here.
You can order your copy of this very fine book from Amazon, and every indication is that Lizzi & Fredl will be in your favorite book store very soon. Bill Sanford also has a web site, I'll share a secret with you, he loves to get feedback.
So much of our knowledge about the Second World War comes from the sanitized 'quick' reads that are presented in our school system that I have reservations that any of these 'canned' and convenient explanations mean anything.
I am a fan of original history, Dr. William Sanford has brought to life a very important story. One that has been lost in the need to precis history into a 45 minute lesson. Lizzi & Fredl is a great book, and author Bill Stanford is an engaging man. This is one book that should go far.
An excellent read of real life heroes in the dark world of World War II
February 11, 2009
Lizzi & Fredl
William B. Stanford
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Jocelyn Kelley (Publicist)
Kelley & Hall http://www.kelleyandhall.com/
Sometimes it's hard to differentiate between a Hollywood movie and real life. "Lizzi & Fredl: A Perilous Journey of Love and Faith" tell of a once happily married couple living in Vienna, Austria in the 1930s. Expectedly, the Nazi war machine begins to invade their life and in trying to evade it, Fredl is sent to the dreaded camps throughout the region, laboring for the very government he hates. Lizzi uses cunning and skill to get around Europe, and must rescue her husband before he ends up in the notorious death camps. A true story reading like a fast paced adventure novel, "Lizzi & Fredl" is an excellent read of real life heroes in the dark world of World War II.
Lizzi & Fredl: A Perilous Journey of Love and Faith: A Memoir
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views (1/09)
Dr. Stanford has written an incredible book about his parents who were living in Austria when Hitler began his tormentuous journey.
Having read many personal accounts of life with Hitler, this book really saddened me and made me really look at what was going on in the life in people who were caught up in this hell. As a psychologist who has studied torture victims for over two years, I can say it is nothing that anyone will ever understand; nor can one fully realize what these individuals and families went through.
Hitler is overrunning Austria in 1938. Lizzi and Fredl are happy where they are, have successful jobs and family members around them. The fear that they feel in being drawn into Hitler's pathology only reinforces that they must leave. Scared, traumatized, at what they see, they leave every possession they have and their family to escape. Dodging spotlights, Hitler patrols, the couple along with friends and family seeks to leave to France where they think they will be safe. Little do they know that as the war increases they will never know whom to trust, even Fredl's own brother. His brother and wife are separated, and the wife does not want to leave their homeland. It causes many problems within the family.
Fredl is arrested many times, the government thinking he is a Jew and a spy. Crawling on the ground, having neither food nor money, is a hard road to go. When Fredl is arrested, Lizzi doesn't know where he is and he is in poor health. Luckily, she meets many who are in the same situation, and they help her find her husband and get jobs.
Hitler's soldiers don't care if you are dying or what your excuse is. They are out to control Europe. Many are sent to detention camps to work until they are dead- it almost happened to Fredl. Lizzi fared better in that she was a master seamstress and gained the trust of all she met.
As in war, each area has different rules and the author has given a great detailed account of the political nightmare that all go through. I can't imagine what this couple went through, although the author did a great job of describing incidents and checking his references. There are many who say this never happened- yet there are many who still suffer today. It is a harrowing experience that I have never experienced except through the words of survivors. I have met many and even though they tell you their story, you cannot imagine what it was like in their experience.
"Lizzi & Fredl: A Perilous Journey of Love and Faith: A Memoir" by Dr. William B. Stanford is a must-read. As a psychologist I look at the resulting mental damage; these people will never be the same again. Can it happen to us? Is there life after their soul deaths?
A captivating memoir!, February 4, 2009
Reviewed by Kam Aures for RebeccasReads (1/09)
Customer Reviews: Barnes & Nobles
September 15, 2009: Quite simply, this is the next "Schindler's List", or at least it should be if Hollywood has any brains left. I was captivated from page one, experiencing for myself all the emotions that these two special people must have felt through their harrowing experiences fleeing the Nazis through World War II Europe.
This is the story that so many parents, grandparents, and great grandparents were unable to speak about after escaping the Holocaust. My compliments to Dr. Stanford for not only convincing his parents to share their memories, but also for doing such thorough research and penning such a well-written work. There were points where I literally could not read fast enough to keep my pulse from racing. Other times I found myself crying, cheering, even praying for their safety. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough, and I'm certain that somewhere, Lizzi and Fredl are very proud of their son.
A Must Read!
Reader Rating Posted August 18, 2009, 8:49 AM EST:
"Lizzi & Fredl: A Perilous Journey of Love and Faith" by Dr. William Stanford chronicles seven years in the lives of his parents from Vienna, Austria where they escaped the clutches of Hitler's reign and relocated to France. Unfortunately, Fredl is imprisoned by French Nazi sympathizers and although Lizzi eludes capture, she still has to try and survive with little money or food. I applaud Dr. Stamford for capturing the experience of his parents before it was too late and detailing here for the rest of us to read. It is truly a remarkable tale of two regular people caught up in the chaos of WWII. I tried to have my grandmother (who lives in Germany) record her life but she does not want to relive her past. Thank you, Dr. Stanford for sharing your parent's story.