Posted in 1930s, Atlantic City books, Historical fiction, holidays, Shoah, Writing

WeWriWa—A promise of hope in the coming year


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.

Happy New Year! To mark the holiday, I’m sharing the middle of the three sections in the last chapter of Movements in the Symphony of 1939, “Farewell, Nineteen-Thirties!” In Part II of the book, we’re introduced to a subplot with a Polish family Cinni’s father has been trying to bring to America. Though most of them managed to escape before the borders closed, the five people left behind were sent to Stutthof in the early days of the occupation.

Hans, the one who wrote this letter, is a mysterious young Luftwaffe pilot who provided many of them with travel visas and got them onto trains permitted to leave Poland before the country officially surrendered. He has a secret crush on Emma.

In the bitter cold of Stutthof, Emma shuddered under the thin wool coat she’d come with. The cold season had already begun creeping up on Poland at the end of September, but it hadn’t been cold enough to merit fur. Emma, her aunt, and her three uncles had left their best clothes hanging in their closets and wardrobes back in Warsaw, along with their best boots, all their Judaica, their fine linens, the beautiful tableware they’d entertained with a lifetime ago, all their books, their family photographs, and all their other personal mementos. Emma wondered if they’d ever see their home again, if any of their dear ones had gotten out of Poland safely, and if the Robleńskis were still alive. Most of all, she wondered where Dawida was.

“There’s a package for the blonde,” one of the guards announced, throwing a lump at Emma. “Happy New Year.”

Emma pulled off the thick outer layer of paper and found several slices of bread, smoked meat, some kind of crackers, a few cooked potatoes, and sliced raw carrots. Before September, she would’ve laughed at the thought of this feeding five people for more than one pathetic meal, but now it was a veritable holiday feast. At the bottom of the package, she found a handwritten note.

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

Dear Emma, Zofia, Aleksander, Borys, and Paweł,

Happy New Year. I can’t promise anything certain, let alone so far in advance, but you must believe I’m coming to get you, not all at once, but as fast as I can. I haven’t forgotten you, nor the necessity of rescuing you from the terrible things I see coming. Never lose hope. By next year at this time, you’ll be in freedom again, maybe in your own home, and with as many of your former possessions as possible. Please believe I’m your friend and have your best interests at heart. Your redemption and rescue can’t come overnight, but they will happen. Hope never dies, even when it seems impossible.

Your unlikely friend,



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

2 thoughts on “WeWriWa—A promise of hope in the coming year

  1. I too wanted to know whether the R family were still alive.

    [I do know that they are – and that they were among some of the first Polish families you created these many years ago].

    Pulled back into the story and Emma’s perspective.

    Imagining the linens and the tableware.

    And how EARLY Polish winter tends to get cold [by early autumn, really].

    So that is what happened to the fur [I imagine a brown fur in mink or bear].

    [or even rabbit – yes I remember the early chapters of KANE AND ABEL].

    The moment when the guard said There’s a package for the blonde.

    [imagined all these dark-haired or no-haired or wigged women wandering round the post office].

    That contains all the major food groups – meat; potatoes; crackers; carrots and bread.

    [and there is more than one way to make it feast-worthy].

    Makes me think of all the Ukrainian families there and abroad.

    [including those who were able to go to southern climes sometime over the last 10 months and more.

    Also Yemeni and Afghan and Iranian families and single people.


    Got a fairly good picture in my head about Stutthof.

    And thinking like Emma about Dawida.

    The last sentences of Hans’s letter are like divine intervention – he is trying to strike that note.

    Especially about redemption and rescue.

    When it came to books; personal mementos and photos – I could not help but make the contrast with Marie and the Shoah people you have written about over the past few months and years for WeWriWa.

    [though in Marie’s case it is something of an aftershock].

    Now remember:

    Hope never dies, even when it seems impossible.


    Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah?

    Liked by 1 person

Share your thoughts respectfully

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s