We know that Lucie Burian Liebman was married for 52 years and had five children.

English: Sir Nicholas Winton British humanitar...

Sir Nicholas Winton British humanitarian (b. 1909) who organized the rescue of about 669 mostly Jewish Czech children visiting Prague in October 2007 – meeting with Czech students. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At 76, in 2002, a widow in a wheelchair, she revisited her childhood home in Vienna, Austria, and the home of relatives who took her family in for nearly three years in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

But, until you read her book, Unconquered: A Tale of a Girl’s Survival During the Holocaust, you don’t know what happened during the three years before her family escaped from Europe in April, 1941.

Rarely do we read about personal lives before war breaks out. More often, we study dates and battles after war has begun. The people we read about are soldiers, and what they are usually doing is fighting other soldiers.

This book tells you what it was like once her parents had made the very wise decision to try to escape Europe as Nazi rule descended.

It tells you the acts of horror that soldiers, secure in their arrogance, can wreak on a civilian population amongst whom they live.

And, it tells you of the bridge of hands helping one family escape to the United States while escape was still possible.

Told with the help of personal historian and newspaper columnist Elise McIntosh-Levy, Liebman’s book gives readers an insider’s guide to living in a country where the government has declared you second-class citizens.

Although Liebman, her brother and her parents survived the war, many of her family did not. Her family’s survival was due to a combination of persistence, foresight and the kindness of strangers.

Her family fled to Prague from Vienna, Austria, to stay with relatives, the day after their house was confiscated by Nazis, when Germany annexed Austria in 1938.

Among the strangers who helped, there was the London stockbroker, Nicholas Winton, whose decision to bring children out of harm’s way led to the rescue of 669 children, including Liebman’s brother, in their parents’ Sophie’s choice decision. Winton’s organization, the Czech Kindertransport, would only take one child from a family.

There was Liebman’s decision to join a group of child resisters in Prague. Her group of 13- and 14-year-old friends was called the Maccabees. One afternoon, she was asked to toss a covered bundle at a train filled with Nazi soldiers, realizing it was dynamite only when it exploded. The next day her family traveled to Berlin to get exit visas for the U.S.

There were the French volunteers, likely some of those organized by an American journalist, Varian Fry, who led them through the woods to the French Pyrenees and on to Spain, where they could continue to neutral Portugal and board a train from Lisbon on their way to the United States. Fry’s volunteers led 2,000 Jews across France to Spain.

Finally, there was the reunification with her adored older brother, Paul, who had cajoled leave from the U.S. Army, once he made it to the United States from London, to show up, a surprise, at her high school graduation.

And, there is her granddaughter, Missy, the youngest daughter of her youngest daughter, who would not accept her claim, “I can’t do it. It’s too painful.” The result is this riveting book.

Click on the title to order the harrowing story of someone who, after three years, got out of Nazi-occupied Europe just before the attack on Pearl Harbor brought the U.S. into the conflict, Unconquered:  A Tale of a Girl’s Survival During the Holocaust.

Note: This is for an adult audience. Though Liebman was only 13 through much of the story, it is an adult’s story.

 

Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers

http://newgrandmas.com

 

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