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S E C T I O N 2 People S TO R I E S A B O U T P E O P L E I N T H E A L M A N AC ’ S C O M M U N I T Y GROWING UP IN WARTIME Local authors write of childhoods interrupted by Nazi occupation during World War II By Barbara Wood Special to the Almanac I t was early in 1938, and in Vienna, Austria, little Eva Maiden, not yet 3 years old, lived happily with her parents (both physicians), her 8-yearold brother, her nanny, and her favorite aunt in a comfortable large apartment that doubled as doctors’ offices. “My life was very safe and secure,” Ms. Maiden said in a recent interview. She attended a Montessori nursery school and was “always surrounded by caring adults.” In Bydgoszcz, Poland, 12-yearold Sophie Stallman, then known as Zosia, lived comfort- ably as well, with her mother and her older sister in a home suitable to their aristocratic roots, although her father had died when she was an infant. Sophie was a brave and fearless child who by the age of 13 had learned how to parachute jump from a high building, tried piloting an open-cockpit fighter plane, and shown her expertise with a gun. Not long after, both their worlds changed. What happened to them when Hitler’s troops invaded, first Austria in 1938, and a year later, Poland, is the subject of memoirs the two women have recently published and will speak about at a Menlo Park Library-sponsored event at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 3, in the Menlo Park City Council Chambers, 701 Laurel St. In March 1938, Nazi troops entering Vienna were welcomed with a parade. Jewish families, such as Eva’s, soon suffered. Within days, Eva’s father lost his part-time job on the medical staff of the city of Vienna. A patient warned him his name was on a list of Jews to be arrested; he avoided arrest only by hiding in a friend’s home until the danger passed. Eva’s nursery school was closed, and her brother’s teacher replaced with a loyal, and sadistic, Nazi before Jews were barred from school altogether. Later the 8-year-old brother was arrested, kept for a day in police custody, and beaten for ignoring the “No dogs, no Jews” signs in the park. The family applied for visas to emigrate. But not until after the Kristallnacht pogrom in November, when Jewish shops were destroyed, synagogues burned and Jewish men arrested, did a relative in Switzerland help them get visas to leave Austria. As Eva’s family left Austria, in Poland the country prepared for an invasion. Sophie’s family packed as many of their belongings as they could fit into bundles and suitcases and headed See page 31 Authors Eva Maiden, left, of Menlo Park and Sophie Stallman of Ladera recently released memoirs of their experiences during World War II. (Photo by Michelle Le/ The Almanac.) The event Both authors will speak at the Menlo Park City Council Chambers at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 3, in a program sponsored by the Menlo Park Library. Free van service to the program is available for Menlo Park seniors and people with disabilities. For more information or to schedule transportation, call 330-2512 or contact John Weaver, outreach coordinator, at The books Sophie Stallman, right, and her sister Ann immediately after they escaped from Warsaw at the end of the 1944 uprising by the Polish resistance movement against the Nazi occupiers. Sophie recently released a memoir of her experiences during World War II. ■ “My War, My Life,” by Ladera resident Sophie Stallman, Mill City Press, August 2013, 393 pages. Available at numerous online booksellers including Kepler’s, in paperback. $16.95 list price. The book includes some Polish history as well as the author’s experiences as a teenager in occupied Warsaw and as a member of the Polish underground. ■ “Decisions in the Dark: A refugee girl’s journey,” by Menlo Park resident Eva Maiden, Bay Sound Books, August 2013, 158 pages. Available at numerous online booksellers including Kepler’s ( in paperback and on Amazon for the Kindle. $14.95 list price; $8.99 Kindle. The book is a memoir of the first 21 years of the author’s life, including her family’s escape from occupied Austria. It is written for high school age and older. April 30, 2014 NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN29

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