Today we talk about Last stop: Duisburg, a book by Candace Rechtschaffen-Gillhoolley published with our publishing house Europe Books.
Europe Books had the pleasure of interviewing the author Candace Rechtschaffen-Gillhoolley, to get to know her better, what was the moment that led her to the writing of her autobiographical book Last stop: Duisburg, as well as what sensations she felt by ‘reading’ her life on the pages of her debut book.
Below you can find our interview. Take a seat and enjoy your reading!!!
- What was the moment that led you to the writing of your autobiographical story?
In 2010, my son, Ronin, age 5, said to me, “when did Grandpa Rudy die? I remember him when I was a baby but now the memories are fading.” My daughter, Autumn, age 2, not to be outdone, added, “me too!” Neither of them ever met him. He died seven years before in 1998 at fifty-nine years old. I’d just graduated from Barnard College of Columbia University, his alma mater. His steady-hand, dynamic and larger than life persona was missed by many; for the right reasons: his morality, his ability to teach, his wild and awkward sense of humour, his biting wit, his all-encompassing love and devotion and his mind’s genius talent to invent for IBM. In 2005, after I got pregnant with Ronin, and Autumn in 2007, I filled their lives with his stories and my childhood lullabies created by my dad. My plan was for my children to know him on a foundational level. My whole life I wanted to write a book and the story I needed to tell was inside of me the whole time.
- What sensations did you feel by ‘reading’ your life on the pages of your debut book?
Shock and vindication. I kept stroking the cover making sure it was real. All the stories I grew up with have been retold, lineally, and are matched up with my ancestral photographs. It’s meaningful and purposeful. My dad was the smartest man I’ve ever known. His history belongs in the annals of history. I’ve made that happen. I’m joyous and proud. I captured the moment on video. I gave my son my phone and I said, “capture this. I want to remember this forever.” I “ugly-cried” and posted the video to my website at candacegillhoolley.com. I want everyone I love to share in my victory, to viscerally feel my joy and understand how much of myself I put into the endeavour. Plenty of people want to write and book and many people have important things to say, but completing a manuscript and pushing your vision to publication requires a unique skillset.
- What are the messages you want to send out with your book?
The Jewish people loved everything Germanic for centuries. The German lifestyle was the golden ring of achievement. In the mid-1600s Jews from Portugal and Spain migrated to Hamburg where their merchant skills were in high demand. From the 1700s until the mid-1800s the Jewish population in Germany grew to two million. Fifteen percent of Germany’s military in WWI was composed of Jewish citizens. After the end of WWI, a battered and bruised Germany rallied behind maniacal hate and targeted the Jews, Gypsies (the Roma), Communists, Socialists and the Intelligentsia. Last Stop Duisburg shows the reader how State sponsored confiscation of personal liberties was deliberate and methodical. Villainous machinations, a decade in the making, unleashed a level of carnage unimaginable to the rational mind. Witnessing the different shapes and sizes of heroism demonstrates how the call to action through terror compels humanity to action. Good people risked their own lives to be on the right side of history. History is written by the winners and the Rechtshaffen’s, like many others, survived to testify to the murderous waist of human life and dignity at the hands of Russian pogroms and Nazi genocide. The only way to change the future is to remember the painful moments and terrible choices made and do better.
- How was your first publishing experience?
Exhilarating and foreign. I’m a debut author and the editorial staff made me feel fantastic. They understood my vision and worked hard to make that happen. For twenty-five years I have carried these priceless photographs with me. I received a few offers but I chose Europa Books because I knew my book would resonate in the European market, especially in Italy, Holland, and Germany. My story lives across the pond from me. I wasn’t sure what type of distribution I would have in Europe otherwise. WWII is a topic that intrigues every generation. My generation are the children or grandchildren of the Holocaust. My story is the same as many others, simply change a city, a name, and a nefarious betrayal of humanity. People, unlike Historians, tend to forget. Publishing this story is my way to help others to never forget.
- Are you planning to write more books?
Yes. A million times yes. Once I finished and submitted my manuscript, new ideas began to percolate. I could write more about the people of Rozniatow, Ukraine, who no longer exist but whose ancestry has led to thousands of Rechtschaffens’ all over the world from Israel, North and South America, Europe, and Australia. There is a story to be written about my Grand Uncle Maurice, a partisan in France who lived passionately and saved many people’s lives in WW1. Should I ever be able to come to see all these places in person, I’d love to create a multimedia experience from the materials. My mother’s side of the family has a different yet compelling story to tell as well. I have a great title for the project and I’ve started the research. I’m driven to complete this project while my mom can stand by my side and share my triumph. From a dyslexic child who couldn’t read until I was eleven years old to a published author, it’s a great accomplishment.
Europe Books thanks the author Candace Rechtschaffen-Gillhoolley once again for taking the time and answering our questions. We are really pleased to have walked alongside her on the editorial path that led to the publication of her book Last stop: Duisburg. We wish her the best of luck for her future works.
To you, my dear reader, I wish this book will provide you with food for thoughts to reflect upon and inspire you for your personal change and transformation for yourself and for a better world, and I quote the author “The only way to change the future is to remember the painful times and terrible choices made and do better”.
So, my dear reader, all I have to say is to enjoy this very interesting reading!