Last week I held a successful Book Launch and Presentation of HENRY: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America for a standing room only crowd of 85 people. Fifteen years in the making, I can finally say that while I outlived Henry Zguda, with the publication of this book, now his story will outlive me. It’s more important than ever to keep teaching against the lessons of hate and prejudice by remembering and honoring the very real victims and survivors.
When I began this book, I did not know, what I did not know. I am not Polish, Jewish, or Catholic. I had never interviewed a concentration camp survivor. I do not remember ever learning about Poland in my high school history classes. Yet, more than ever, I will stand strong against any person who dares say the Holocaust did not happen or was exaggerated. It most certainly did. Henry was a witness and there is irrefutable proof. I have visited two concentration camps and believe all Holocaust denial is based jointly in hate, prejudice, and ignorance. Hate and prejudice are attitudes, often instilled from birth, and are harder to battle. But ignorance is simply a lack of knowledge or information.
Two phrases are written as the epigraph to HENRY: The past actually happened, but history is only what someone wrote down. The second comes from Henry because he loved Latin: Ad aspera, ad astra. Through hardship to the stars. This book stands as a reminder that anyone, given the right circumstances, can and will be the target of hate and discrimination. May you always reach for the stars in your life.
Thank you to everyone who came out in support and who bought books, as well as Changing Hands Bookstore for serving as a gracious host for the book launch. It’s a gift-giving season, and many people bought multiple copies. Thank you also to the many others who were unable to attend but sent their best wishes, and to those who have already read HENRY and are spreading the word. It was a fabulous evening, fortunately captured in photos and on video.
Na zdrowie! Cheers!
You can help spread the word by word-of-mouth and by leaving online reviews. Both are critical to a book’s success. A review can be two words, such as “Loved it” or “Definitely recommend.” I’m including the links below for your convenience. I also love speaking to book groups.
In gratitude, Katrina