Welcome, Mark. How did you discover this diary?
In the late 1990s, I learned through an article in a
Midwest newspaper of the existence of a troubling yet
inspiring diary written by a Christian German nurse during her incarceration at
Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, the only Nazi camp exclusively for women. I
contacted this woman’s daughter and was able to secure a copy of the diary. At
the time, I was involved with other books and was only able to publish parts of
the diary through a local publisher with the hope I could at a later date
publish the entire story. Earlier this year I decided the “later date” had come
when I realized the “love overcomes hate” theme of the book was quite relevant
in today’s world where there is so much hate, so much division, so much disrespect.
Through this woman’s spiritual beliefs, she decided to trust a Nazi prison
guard she hated after he showed some affection for her, causing her to believe
that he had love in his heart hidden beneath his SS uniform.
Describe the process of writing an entire book in someone's voice when you have limited diary entries.
Actually, this was not necessary as I wanted this courageous woman’s voice to be heard in this book as she presented it in the diary. Therefore, little editing at all exists except toward the back end of the diary, permitting her words to be presented almost exactly as she wrote them during her days of fighting to survive the horrors of the Holocaust. We needed to qualify the book as “based on a true story” since I added what the daughter told me her mother’s intentions were after the war regarding saving the prison guard’s life.
What captivated you most about this story?
From the moment I read the diary, I was emotionally moved by the courage exhibited by three people whose lives who were transformed by love overcoming hate – Vera, the little girl Andrea, and the prison guard named Jacob. Each exhibited courage in the face of evil, and the drama associated with the woman’s life or death decision to trust the prison guard who could have either saved the girl or had both the woman and girl shot brought tears to my eyes. Courage comes in many forms, but when human survival is at stake, a special type of courage is required and each of these three people as well as the thousands of women at Ravensbrück showed bravery that is so inspiring in nature. My respect for them is unlimited, and I am proud to be able to tell the story of just one woman who never gave up hope, never lost the human spirit, a true angel of mercy whose only goal was to save lives through her love and caring for everyone in a true Christlike manner for so many years.
There is a quote from Vera that says "good and evil both need deception to survive." What does she mean by that?
This is a quote that should cause readers to stop and think about the meaning of Vera’s words. I don’t want to provide my own opinion, but suffice it to say that one must consider the context of the words she wrote in terms of whether lying or even just misleading others is good or bad, Christlike behavior or the work of the devil based on what she is experiencing on a daily basis as she fights to survive.
How does Vera's faith change over the course of her experience in the concentration camp?
Everyone loses faith during their spiritual journey and Vera was no exception. When readers listen to her voice they will hear how she tried to understand how the Nazis could be so cruel to others especially the children and failing that, cried her eyes out on a nightly basis. Several times she asked why God was not listening to her prayers, why He would not provide the miracles she sought so as to help others. During her most difficult times with keeping hope God brought her, as she wrote, “a miracle,” a young child she could mother, she could love. This happening renewed her hope, her faith, and she was determined to save Andrea’s life at all costs, even if she died doing so. Jacob coming along was another miracle, his affection, her understanding that he was not the devil she thought he was.
Why do you believe it is important for people today to hear stories from the Holocaust?
We must never forget what happened to cause the Holocaust— overbearing power by a true bully, one who believed he was some sort of god who could decide who lived and who died due to a boundless hatred for anyone who disagreed with him. In today’s world, we see examples everywhere of hate— school shootings, racial injustice, violation of women’s rights, bigotry— it is unlimited. By recalling the events of the Holocaust, we must learn our lesson— that love can overcome darkness. Our society is raising young people who complain when they are unable to use their smart phones for ten hours a day. Hopefully books such as Courage in the Face of Evil will help this generation recognize how others suffered unimaginable things from people filled with hatred causing young people to stop and think about what is most important in life, a willingness to spread love throughout the world, as it should be.
Your last book is being made into a movie. Talk about that book and the prospects of Vera's story also becoming a film.
Women’s issues filter through many of my 26 books, but the subject of courage has been on my mind for some time since my latest book, The Reporter Who Knew Too Much” a biography of media icon and investigative reporter Dorothy Kilgallen, became a bestseller with a follow-up book, Denial of Justice to be released this fall. In TRWKTM, I presented the courage exhibited by Kilgallen who risked her life to discover the truth about the JFK assassination. This true crime murder mystery resonated with the prestigious Brothers Dowdle Production Company in
producers of the TV series, for the
Paramount Network and they are currently developing the story for a film or TV
series. From the moment Courage in the Face of Evil was
discovered by certain producers, there has been an interest in developing
Vera’s remarkable story for a motion picture. Two actors of renown have also
inquired as to the film rights. Waco
How can my blog readers find you on the Internet?
Thank you, Mark, for sharing this book with my blog readers and me. I have an aunt who was a
US army nurse during the trials. She and her husband were
good friends with one of the Nuremberg
lawyers. They were able to attend some of the trial. She’s our family historian
from that time period and she shared photos and information with me about some
of the places they visited before she left US , including the emptied
prison camps. I’ve been interested in this since then. Germany
Readers, here are links to the book.Courage in the Face of Evil - Christianbook.com
Courage in the Face of Evil - Amazon paperback
Courage in the Face of Evil - Kindle
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