Posted in 1940s, Historical fiction, Shoah, Writing

WeWriWa—New names


Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. The rules have now been relaxed to allow a few more sentences if merited, so long as they’re clearly indicated, to avoid the creative punctuation many of us have used to stay within the limit.

I’ve gone back to my hiatused WIP The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees, which follows a group of young Shoah survivors during the early postwar years. Part II tells the story of what happened to some of them while they were separated.

Ráhel and Dániel Kovacs, eight and four years old, have escaped from a death train under cover of night and taken shelter in a nearby convent. They’ve been put in a hidden room upstairs, and a doctor performed a tracheostomy on Dániel, who has diphtheria.

Now they’re asked about their names, and Ráhel provides their middle names like her older sister Mirjam told her to do.

The nun who’d answered the door touched Ráhel’s hand and addressed her in Esperanto. “What are you and the boy named?”

“My name is Lívia, and my brother’s name is Frigyes.”

“Freed-yesh? Is there another form of that name? You’ll both need Polish names when our orphanage school starts in the autumn.”

Ráhel thought for a few minutes about her history lessons in school. She knew Dániel’s middle name was in honor of a famous emperor from a long time ago.

“Frederick!” she said excitedly. “My brother’s English name is Frederick!”

The ten lines end here. A few more follow to finish the scene.

“I should’ve guessed that. The Polish name is Fryderyk. Your name will be Liwia. We’ll call you Liwunia, and your brother Fredzio. If you have Jewish names, please don’t tell us. It’s best if we don’t know.”

“Do you feel sick too?” Dr. Kaczka asked.

“No, I had torokgyík last year.” Ráhel took a drink from the new glass of water on the nightstand. “Thank you very much for being nice to us. My mother and sister will give you money after the war.”

“We don’t need money for doing the right thing,” a very young nun said. “For now, the most important thing is to get some rest. We’ll take very good care of you, teach you Polish, and protect you from the Germans. Where did you get that scapular and rosary from?”


Writer of historical fiction sagas and series, with elements of women's fiction, romance, and Bildungsroman. Born in the wrong generation on several fronts.

4 thoughts on “WeWriWa—New names

  1. Glad your history lessons helped you Livia!

    Yes – Jenna – appreciating how relentless the Nazis were.

    [and the Soviets for that matter].

    That very young nun who said *We don’t need money for doing the right thing*.

    Reading Simon Wiesenthal’s JUSTICE NOT VENGEANCE just now… [up to the part about Salvador Allende and how he became Chile’s head of state – and they move around to a point in 1984].

    Love the picture of the Emperor on the illustrator.

    [Of course I will always think of Chopin when the little fellow is called Fryderyk].

    Fredzio and Liwia. How quick it was to shift mindset and call them by those names in a new environment.

    [hoping the “Very Good Polish” will stick. I do know Bardzo dobry or Bardzo dobrze – and they will not have it so hard with the conjugations and the inflections].

    We will find out where that scapular [and I am not very sure what that is – will go and look it up to get a picture in my mind] and the rosary.

    Danusha Goska wrote a very revelatory post in SAVE SEND DELETE about the function and importance of the rosary.

    [and when I first saw the ATLANTIC article it was a *How very dare you* moment – even in the first lines].

    I will ask – what is the illness Liwia had?

    [Diptheria – I could not but look].


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