Livia's Legacy
by Dagmar Wirch
Trafford Publishing

"Man's inhumanity to man was beyond comprehension. Why was this happening? Livia believed in God. How could he allow such cruelty to go on?"

Refugee camps, boarding houses and detention centers don't sound like places to call home. Yet, for families fleeing the violence of World War II, each of these options offered a welcome chance to rest. Wirch chronicles the travels of her own family as they fled the Nazi occupation of Poland in this tribute to her mother's bravery and resilience. Based largely on the handwritten memoir of Wirch's Aunt Lydia, who traveled with the Falk family, Livia's Legacy tells the story of a humble family living in Lodz, Poland when Nazi soldiers started sequestering their Jewish friends in ghettos and bombs started falling all around them. Once the running begins, it becomes a way of life for Frau Falk and her young children.

Wirch relies on her aunt's journal for the early years, and paints a clear picture of an exhausted, hungry family continually thankful for each stranger that opens up even the smallest corner of their home. Time after time, Livia unpacks their meager belongings and sets about making a home. Clean sheets go on the beds, potatoes in the pot, and children off to school. The journey eventually takes them to Winnipeg, Canada, where Livia is undaunted even by the subzero winter temperatures. Later scenes rely on Wirch's own memories. One particular challenge must have been the portrait of her father, Eduard, whose poor health and disposition kept him from contributing much to the strained household. Wirch avoids sentimentality and clearly portrays her father as a burden that her mother must bear. Aside from a surplus of misplaced commas, Wirch's writing is clear and straightforward. She shows the cruelties of war, but also the kindness of strangers, as doors continue to open for this determined family in their quest for freedom.

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