Friday, September 27, 2013

You Tube Clip—East Hampton Library Talk

Hi Everyone,

 Just a few words to keep you posted as to what's going on. I'm in between speaking engagements for the book tour and back in the Bahamas for only a few days. Leaving on Thursday to speak at the American Trakehner Association Convention in Ohio and then on to Los Angeles where my dear friends are hosting a book signing. Meeting people is wonderful and fulfilling whilst traveling is exhausting... but when I feel tired, I remind myself of what the refugees on the trek went through, how tired they must have felt, how hungry, cold and terrified.

Getting ready for the talk  at the East Hampton Library

  I am posting this video clip of a talk I gave at the East Hampton Library last weekend where I met a wonderful man— Ed Naujoks—a survivor of the Great Trek out of East Prussian who calls himself an "Old Prussian Rebel." Ed drove all the way from Connecticut to Long Island and I so enjoyed sharing information with him and meeting his lovely wife Faith. Our conversations were rich and touching and his stories corroborated all of my research. I'm so happy we met. What is interesting too is that my grandfather used the name Naujoks in his diaries and in my novel The Last Daughter of Prussia I did the same. There's a sentence in the scene where Manya witnesses the terrible Russian ambush on Nemmersdorf that reads like this:

  Manya heard sharp blasts and looked toward the church. Beyond it, in Farmer Naujok's field, men were lined up. One by one, they jerked and fell as bullets ripped into their backs. 

I just find that life is full of coincidences or perhaps I should say there are reasons and guiding forces for every encounter in our lives.

Ed Naujoks— a survivor of the Great Trek and me at the library

The you tube video clip you see here is a part of my talk at the East Hampton Library. My wonderful publicist, Kim Nagy, of Wild River Books is the person introducing me.

Kim Nagy, my publicist of Wild River Books with me
in Shelter Island

  While in that old prestigious library I felt as if I was breathing in rich air laden with centuries of literature. Again I recognized the importance of storytelling. Stories keep the pieces of humanity in our remembrance so they don't get lost.

  Thank you everyone for coming. Special thanks to Dennis Fabiszac and Steve Spataro for inviting me to speak.

Until next time...

—Marina Gottlieb Sarles

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Last Daughter wins Global E Book Award

Hi Everyone,

  I have been so busy traveling and working on talks for my upcoming book tour that I have hardly had a moment to spare. The good news is that the Los-Angeles-based Global Book Awards run by author and publisher, Dan Poynter, leading authority on e-book publishing, awarded The Last Daughter of Prussia an Honorable Mention. So in the category of Historical Fiction, The Last Daughter is a Global Ebook Award Winner!

  I am thrilled about this prestigious award which also creates a buzz and word of mouth publicity. It feels awesome to have such a wonderful acknowledgement for the years of research and writing, for the many times I sat with the story and photographs, wondering what my grandparents went through  when they fled the invading Russian Army and embarked on the Great Trek out of East Prussia in the bitter winter of 1944/45— a journey on which over half a million people perished.

The Great Trek out of East Prussia
Winter 1944/45

  Reading about what so many desperate people—Romani Gypsies and Jews— were forced to endure in the camps, in this terrible holocaust, was unbelievably painful. I often thought I would have to stop because my heart hurt so much and my sleep was forever interrupted by the nightmarish images. There were days I just spent crying. But through it all I felt a calling to also write about the plight of the East Prussian people; the brave Trakehner horses whose flight from their homeland is one of the greatest, most tragic sagas of equine and human history. One that is seldom discussed. German civilians who fled—mostly women, children and elderly people —never felt they had a right to speak about their suffering, loss and the countless rapes they endured. (An estimated 3 milliion women were raped many to death.) How could they dare speak in a land where Hitler's corpses of genocide were piled so high?

My reflection in the glass at the
 Stutthof Holocaust Museum, Poland
as I look at the bones and ashes
of thousands of people who died in there.
One of the most painful moments
during my research
  Still, it is important that everyone's story be told so that healing can happen and the buried traumas undisclosed secrets and emotional taboos are not perpetuated into future generations. It is important that wounds be brought to light and aired so our DNA can heal from the scars of our lineage and we can begin to understand the dysfunctional patterns that often affect us.

My mother, Owanta Gottlieb von Sanden
as a little girl in East Prussia
before the war
Photo (C) Gottlieb Family
 I am grateful to my readers who write and tell me that reading The Last Daughter of Prussia helps them acknowledge the overwhelming legacy of postwar grief, as well as the physical and psychological toll of unspoken painful family memories.

  One audience member said “Sarles’s reading was really incredible last night. I want to thank her and acknowledge the healing that I saw. It touched me and I am struck with the power of it all and the way that people opened up to their most vulnerable places, most probably long held in their hearts.”

Photo (C) Courtesy Christine Matthäi

 I don't add that quote lightly as I don't want to seem grandiose but if healing can happen in only one heart then I feel writing the book has been worthwhile. My fervent prayer is that many are touched and find the clarity and courage to unravel the details of their own family stories.

—Until next time

—Marina Gottlieb Sarles