Writing a Family’s Story of Survival: “We Were the Lucky Ones” by Georiga Hunter
As family historians we recognize the need to gather our family stories, but what happens when we uncover stories that were never discussed? What if we found our family was part of one of the most dramatic and disturbing eras of the 20th century – the Holocaust of World War II? In Georgia Hunter’s We Were the Lucky Ones we learn the remarkable story of her family’s survival as Polish Jews.
Wanting to know more, Georgia asked her grandmother for details, but her grandmother didn’t know much more about her in-laws. Then in 2000, a reunion of the Kurc family in the United States gave Georgia the opportunity to hear more of the story. She discovered that her grandfather’s siblings and parents all survived despite incredible odds. She would learn that of the 30,000 Jews in Radom, only about 300 survived. That her grandfather’s nuclear family came through the war intact was a miracle.
We Were the Lucky Ones is written as a novel, each chapter from the point of view of one of the family members. Georgia researched the family stories for years: gathering interviews from family members; traipsing across the world revisiting the many locations, researching the Holocaust, interviewing survivors, and locating records. A short historical account of the war prefaces each chapter, helping the reader to connect the personal stories with the broader view of the conflict. Set in the European theater of World War II, the true stories take us to Poland, France, Siberia, Africa, Italy, and Brazil.
If you’re interested in reading more about Georgia’s research, check out this article: Following the Footsteps of the Characters in We Were the Lucky Ones.” The article includes an interview with Georgia describes her research journey – just as fascinating to us as family historians as the book. She used a color-coded timeline to track the various family members through the war. That timeline became the outline for the book. As we’re creating timelines for our own families, we might be prepping for our future book!
We Were the Lucky Ones reveals what is possible when we dig deeper into our family history. Each of our ancestors has a story and it is up to us to tell it.
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