“I have told this story to Colette for many reasons. I want people to understand what happened during World War II, to know what was done to us Jews for no reason at all, other than that we happened to be Jewish. I also want young people to learn from the things I did in my life that allowed me to survive. But my greatest hope in sharing this story is so that my parents and other family members did not die in vain. I truly believe that telling others about their murders and speaking out against genocide, racism, and hatred can and will make a difference.”
Nina Grutz’s family was successful in business in Poland. The community respected them. Nina’s life was one of wealth. “The Grutz family was part of a Jewish population that thrived at a time when almost three-quarter of the Jews in Europe called Poland home.” “It seems to me now that my life before the war was so very happy and full. My own little world was regulated and small, but this was how my parents raised me and it felt very secure. I had a good family life, I loved my sisters, and I even began to spend time with boys in a social way. We did not go out on dates like young people do today, but spent time in groups with relatives or together with adults present.”
Then came the day when Nina’s father felt it was no longer safe. One day Nina attended a lecture with a companion. He realized Nina was Jewish. “I walked in with him and found that there were older students directing people where to sit. They yelled out, “Jews on the left side and Poles on the right!” I was proud to be a Jew, so I started to go to the left when my companion pulled me by the hand and asked, “Where are you going?” Nina was proud to be Jewish and never tried to hide it but she spoke fluent Polish and dressed like everyone else.
When the bombings began, the Grutz family decided it would be safer to separate. Nina went to live with her aunt. Life was never the same for Nina but she didn’t give up. Nina assisted with the Underground by smuggling travel papers. She met and married Josef Morecki. Nina’s story is one of triumph.
This is a story that has to be told. This is a heartrending story, but it is more. “This is one survival tale that is neither enduringly sad nor depressing. It is, in fact, a story of hope and endurance and, ultimately even prosperity in a new life in a new land.”
Colette Waddell is an extremely talented writer. She successfully paints a picture of words that tells Nina’s life. It is an honor to read Nina’s story. It is told with humor, which testifies to the character of Nina. I’m glad I read this book. It should be required reading for everyone. For only when we come to understand what happened during the Holocaust will be make sure it never happens again. It is with great honor that I highly recommend “Through the Eyes of a Survivor” to all readers.
by Colette Waddell
Topcat Press (2007)
Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for Reader Views (3/07)