Lore Weil was born in Prague in 1925 of Austrian Jewish parents. Her father Franz served during the First World War in an elite regiment of the Hapsburg army, was promoted to the rank of Oberleutnant and decorated by Emperor Karl. Lore's mother Angela was multi-lingual and had attended a 'finishing school' in England. Ironically, her father, something of an Austrian nationalist, was greatly disappointed when he returned home after WW1 to discover himself in the new state of 'Czechoslovakia'. Lore had one brother Herbert who was born in 1930, the year the family moved to Dessau in Germany. She was seven when Hitler became chancellor in 1933 and it was around this time that she began to be aware of the anti-semitism surrounding her. Within a few years the comfortable, middle-class life they had previously known became a thing of the past for the Weil family. The children and their mother were in Austria at the time of the Anschluss in 1938. There then followed several hurried changes of location to try and evade the Nazis who were busy gobbling-up Europe. They briefly returned to Prague and realising it was unsafe, eventually found themselves stranded in Holland at the outbreak of World War Two. They were awaiting word from Franz to follow him to England where he had gone on ahead in the hope of setting-up a new home for his family. He would never see his wife again.
At this point Lore's ordeal truly begins as she attempts to survive in a Europe that is increasingly hostile and dangerous to her personally simply because of her ethnicity. The story, as told without any hint of sensationalism by Lore to her son Peter and which he has recorded in the first person is, like every Holocaust testimony, horrifically shocking, not just for its brutality and inhumanity but because of its close proximity to us. The people in her story don't always behave in the way we expect them to, the bad guys aren't always bad and the good guys sometimes act in the most despicable ways. The enemy wasn't some barbaric horde back at the dawn of recorded history but the civilisation that gave us Mozart and Beethoven, Erich Maria Remarque, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pastor Niemoller, Meister Eckhart, Albert Schweitzer, Freud and Einstein (to name but a very few). These events happened only a short distance away from the country that I myself call home, and it's sobering to think that I was born only a decade after the end of the War in Europe.
I have known Peter Bolwell, Lore's son, for a number of years. He is a committed Quaker, an Esperantist and someone whose views I am personally always prepared to listen to. He has a terrific sense of humour, plays several instruments, and has a strange and inexplicable appreciation for some really quite bad Spaghetti Westerns. Although he is invariably busy, I have always found him to be extremely generous with his time. He kindly helped edit and proof-read both of my novels, so it was my great pleasure (utilising recently developed formatting skills) to help him set up the ebook version of Lore's Tale.
This short, well written book, a personal memoir, is an important snapshot of one of the most dreadful and degrading periods in human history. We must never forget the stories of those like Lore who suffered in ways that are almost unimaginable for us now to comprehend. Indeed, should we ever forget, then we who have been forrtunate enough to have enjoyed mostly peace and harmony in our lifetimes are in grave danger of once again repeating the mistakes of the past. Some years ago I taught Engish as a foreign language at a summer school to a nice bunch of Belgian teenagers. I read them Wilfred Owen's poem Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori - they were noticeably moved by the words. Yet in the discussion we had afterwards, the consensus of opinion was that such cataclysmic events as WW1 and WW2 could never happen again in Europe. I felt quite shaken by their confidence and told them that I sincerely hoped they were right about this - that idea of 'never again' still troubles me!
Lore's Tale by Peter F Bowell
Peter Bolwell's email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paper version - price £3.00. Available to purchase from the author via his email address, or by ordering from any good bookshop quoting the reference ISBN: 978-0-9571588-0-1
Lore's Tale Amazon Kindle - price 77p ($0.99)