Lauren B. Grossman
Living and writing in a world of disAbilities
NEWS & ARTICLES
"The Verona Exchange" has been included in the recently published wiki: Heart-Pounding Thrillers About Kidnappings & Mysterious Disappearances. You can see the published wiki here: https://wiki.ezvid.com/m/11-heart-pounding-thrillers-about-kidnappings-mysterious-disappearances-LUsZFodlv7NVO
February 28, 2019: I will be speaking at the Tucson Chapter/Brandeis University National Committee’s 23rd Annual Book & Author luncheon at Skyline Country Club. Please contact Sheila
Rothenberg at 520-232-9559 for further information.
December 2, 2018: Guest author at Congregation Or Chadash.
Readers' Favorite is proud to announce that "The Golden Peacock" by Lauren Grossman won the Finalist Award in the Fiction - Mystery - General category.
Readers' Favorite recognizes "The Golden Peacock" by Lauren Grossman in its annual international book award contest, currently available at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00O67SWBW.
The Readers' Favorite International Book Award Contest featured thousands of contestants from over a dozen countries, ranging from new independent authors to NYT best-sellers and celebrities.
Readers' Favorite is one of the largest book review and award contest sites on the Internet. They have earned the respect of renowned publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the "Best Websites for Authors" and "Honoring Excellence" awards from the Association of Independent Authors. They are also fully accredited by the BBB (A+ rating), which is a rarity among Book Review and Book Award Contest companies.
We receive thousands of entries from all over the world. Because of these large submission numbers, we are able to break down our contest into 140+ genres, and each genre is judged separately, ensuring that books only compete against books of their same genre for a fairer and more accurate competition. We receive submissions from independent authors, small publishers, and publishing giants such as Random House, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, with contestants that range from the first-time, self-published author to New York Times bestsellers like J.A. Jance, James Rollins, and #1 best-selling author Daniel Silva, as well as celebrity authors like Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty), Henry Winkler (Happy Days), and Eriq La Salle (E.R., Coming to America).
You can learn more about Lauren Grossman and "The Golden Peacock" at https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/the-golden-peacock where you can read reviews and the author’s biography, as well as connect with the author directly or through their website and social media pages.
Looking forward to Saturday's Meet and Greet at Anshei Israel Synagogue. Love meeting new people.
November 1, 2017: Visiting author to local book club. Always enjoy meeting new people.
October 29, 2017: Book Signing at Mostly Books in Tucson, AZ. Joining with 5 other mystery writers to autograph novel. Come by to say hello!
October 19, 2017: KIRKUS REVIEW!!!:
Finally received a review by Kirkus Reviews. Happy to be able to share it.
July 22, 2017: The radio show interview went well. Sherry was a gracious host. It's about an hour long, but you can fast forward through commercials. Brought me back to the days of Bravo-on-the-Air. Link to podcast: https://kvoi.com/podcast-window/?yourKey=1698449
GUEST INTERVIEW - April 27, 2016
Thanks to Chris Rice Cooper for interviewing me for her blog. She did a really nice and comprehensive article. I'm flattered and honored she chose me to interview.
Kindertransport story sparks Tucsonan’s novel of intrigue
Posted November 5, 2015 / Nancy Ben-Asher Ozeri, Special to the AJP
Tucson author Lauren B. Grossman found the inspiration for her second novel, “The Golden Peacock,” in a souvenir from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. When visiting the museum about a decade ago, Grossman was handed the identity card of a Holocaust survivor, randomly selected from a bin. She did a double-take when she saw that she and Dora Unger shared the same birthday (30 years apart), so she saved it.
In 2012, after spending a year promoting her first novel, “Once in Every Generation,” Grossman was ready to get back to writing, but wasn’t sure where to start. She stumbled upon the card while cleaning out a desk drawer and said to herself, “There’s a story here.”
Grossman began her research for the book with the information provided on the identity card. Dora had left for England on one of the last Kindertransports (children’s transports) — a series of rescue efforts that brought thousands of Jewish refugee children to Great Britain from Nazi-occupied countries in Europe between 1938 and 1940. When a friend invited Grossman to join her on a trip to London, she got a letter of introduction to the British Library’s archives from an English professor at the University of Arizona, and continued her investigation there, digging up details about the Kindertransports and the United Kingdom during World War II.
“The Golden Peacock,” named after a Yiddish lullaby, begins in October 1938, a month before the coordinated attack on German Jews that came to be known as Kristallnacht. An axe flies through the kitchen window as Jana Lutken and her family hide from a violent anti-Semitic mob roaming the streets of Frechen.
Sixty years later, American author Rainee Allen finds Jana in a British nursing home, hoping to learn more about her life as the basis for a novel. Jana suffers from early onset Alzheimer’s and a visit from a young doctor triggers an onslaught of painful childhood memories.
“Imagine the horror of living through the Holocaust, then creating a somewhat normal life, if you can call it a normal life, for yourself: getting married, having children. And then, at the end of your life, in your waning years, you have to relive the Holocaust all over again because of Alzheimer’s,” says Grossman, citing a study from Israel that 20 percent of Holocaust survivors over the age of 80 have Alzheimer’s.
Without giving too much away, let’s just say that Rainee’s quest to discover why this particular doctor is a trigger for Jana gets her entangled with Nazi-hunters and Nazi-sympathizers, and comes with some serious plot twists.
On her website, Grossman describes herself as “living and writing in a world of disAbilities [sic].” In addition to exploring the plight of dementia among Holocaust survivors, “The Golden Peacock” includes a wheelchair-bound character with multiple sclerosis. Not coincidentally, one of the protagonists in her first novel also has MS, as does Grossman. “I am on a mission to spread MS awareness,” she says, hoping that her fiction will touch and inform readers who may not know much about the disease. Her website also includes articles and research on MS, the prosecution of Nazi war criminals and Holocaust survivors with dementia.
In addition to her two novels, Grossman has written numerous short stories; two won honorable mention in Writer’s Digest annual competitions. As for future endeavors, Grossman is co-writing a second Rainee Allen mystery with her brother, who lives in Kentucky.
Grossman started writing at age 11 and acting at age 14. She earned a degree in theatre from Emerson College and has performed in, designed sets for, directed and produced numerous productions. She co-founded a performing arts newspaper, which led to a weekly radio talk show about the arts. In 1995, she moved from Massachusetts to Tucson with her husband, Michael, and their children, Rachel and Zack.
For more information and to purchase signed copies of Grossman’s books, visit laurenbgrossman.com. They are also available in eBook and paperback from amazon.com and other online retailers.
Nancy Ben-Asher Ozeri is a feature writer and editor living in Tucson. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Failing Minds Fall Prey to Holocaust
by Jane Ulman, The Jewish Journal, Apr. 24, 2003
"Why did you come? Go, go before it's too late," Laja Szydlowski warned her daughter, Hanna. She then whispered, "They're killing people here. You don't understand."
This encounter did not take place in 1940, with Szydlowski holed up in a cramped apartment in the Lodz ghetto in Poland. This happened less than a year ago, in a cheerfully furnished room at the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging (JHA). However, in Szydlowski's mind, she was back in Lodz. This time the ravages of Alzheimer's disease, rather than the Nazis, imprisoned her.
"What happens," explained Dr. Marla Martin, a clinical psychologist who has worked intensively at JHA for more than 10 years, "is that the sense of time is impacted by dementia, and the person again becomes the young man or woman struggling against all odds to survive."
Szydlowski, 93, has been reliving the Holocaust for the past six or seven years, according to her daughter, Hanna Golan. However, her Alzheimer's disease has now progressed to where she can no longer verbally communicate. "She is constantly crying," Golan said.
Szydlowski is one of an estimated 11,000-12,000 Holocaust survivors living in Los Angeles County, whose average age is 81. With nearly half of all elderly people 85 or older affected to some degree by Alzheimer's or other dementias, according to the Alzheimer's Association, the number of those Holocaust survivors, who are reliving in their minds the roundups, selections, starvation, brutality and the killing of family members, often in their presence, is significant.
Even without dementia, many survivors have nightmares, fear abandonment, act secretively and read anti-Semitism into innocent interactions. They react adversely to such seemingly normal activities as standing in lines or dealing with uniformed personnel. Some even avoid the oil well on the Beverly Hills High School campus, now painted with flowers, because it is a reminder of the smokestack at Auschwitz.
Helen Zisner, 82, who is in early stages of dementia and living at the Vista del Sol Care Center in Culver City, is not catapulted back into the Holocaust but reacts to certain stimuli.
"You can't approach her from behind," her son, Benjamin, said. "She'll ask, 'Who are you here for?' because she's reminded of guards entering her concentration camp barracks."
But for survivors with more pronounced dementia, the Holocaust experience exacerbates the paranoia and suspiciousness, and, Martin said, "Those people are much more likely to experience flashbacks."
JHA, with a population of 800 residents, houses only 41 Holocaust survivors in its residential and skilled-nursing facilities, according to Laurie Manners, administrator of the Grancell Village campus. The number is small but, with over two-thirds of them suffering from some degree of dementia, the behaviors stand out.
"We have people who hoard food, who stockpile it in their rooms," Manners said. "And we have one resident who is convinced that noxious fumes are coming in through his air conditioning vent. 'It's poison gas. I'm suffocating,' he tells us."
Holocaust survivors, who felt so deprived, often cannot adjust to living with a roommate, whom they may believe is plotting against them or stealing their possessions. Some are very distrustful.
Haya Berci, JHA's executive director of nursing, said, "If something goes wrong, some survivors are afraid to say anything, for fear of retaliation."
They also have issues surrounding money, such as one resident who believed a rabbi had stolen her $50,000. Many want to sleep with their cash. These behaviors happen more readily in an institutional setting, where survivors feel less in control, according to Martin.
"They can react to showering or to undergoing a medical procedure," she said. "They think the hospital is performing experiments on them and their family has been murdered."
Also, she said, many lose the ability to speak and understand English and are frightened by people talking in what they perceive as a foreign language.
Most survivors, however, according to Paula Fern, director of Jewish Family Service's (JFS) Pico-Robertson Storefront and the Holocaust Survivors Program, like most elderly, generally live in their own homes, alone or with paid caregivers or with relatives.
JFS works with about 650 survivors in their 60s and older, about 10 percent of whom suffer from some type of dementia. Caseworkers in four storefront facilities make home visits, assisting the survivors and their families. Additionally, JFS provides adult day care for Alzheimer's clients in three locations, as well as respite time for families.
Still, JFS has seen its share of survivors with Alzheimer's or dementia who, according to Fern, "are caught in the moment of the Holocaust and relive all that terror, anguish, anxiety and peril."
Fern tells of a past client, a physically fit man in his 70s, who, donning a suit, tie and hat, and putting his financial papers and money into a leather briefcase, disappeared. He stayed with various friends, a few days at a time, and only occasionally resurfaced.
"It took a long time to figure out he had been a courier in the Paris underground and was re-experiencing those days," Fern explained. Because he had no family, JFS arranged for a private conservator.
"This phenomenon is not a new revelation," Fern said. JFS has had survivor clients since 1945 and began a program specifically for aging clients in 1997.
Currently JFS has an extensive program for survivors and their families funded by the Conference for Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and the Morgan Aging With Dignity Fund, as well as private donations. Additional training on Alzheimer's and other aging issues is provided by the Alzheimer's Association and JFS staff.
"Training, training, training," stressed Berci of JHA, which provides training to new employees, along with ongoing education for all staff members, on Jewish culture and issues, including the Holocaust. Recently, JHA received a grant from Wells Fargo Bank to set up a comprehensive program specifically to assist Holocaust survivors, including those with dementia, and their families.
Interestingly, while the Holocaust population in general is decreasing, this subset is actually increasing as survivors, like the general population, are living longer, and thus are more likely to become demented.
"The cruel irony," geriatric psychiatrist Daniel Plotkin said, "is that dementia doesn't protect these people. Their long-term memory remains intact."
Plotkin stressed the importance of a trusting relationship, whether it's with the spouse or a hired caregiver.
For Szydlowski, that trusted person is her husband, Michael, 94, who also lives at JHA and comes to his wife's room every day before she rises.
"He is afraid to have her wake up and have him not there, because that would be terrible for her," Golan explained. "He doesn't sleep because he's afraid of oversleeping."
He stays with her in the Alzheimer's day room, taking time off only to eat and, at his daughter's urging, to play bingo a couple times a week.
"I'm not sure she recognizes my father or me, but she feels safe with us," she said. "With everyone else, even nurses who have cared for her for years, she struggles."
For some, artistic pursuits help tame the Holocaust demons. Sam Gal, 81, entered JHA in 1998 and took up painting for the first time. He spent every day in the art room, creating a prolific portfolio of paintings, which gradually became lighter, in both content and appearance. About two years ago, as dementia set in, he was forced to stop.
Medication can sometimes help control the agitation and paranoia, though it can't prevent flashbacks. People can also often be distracted, with a song or a walk. For those with severe dementia, just holding their hand or talking to them in their language of origin can comfort them.
"Our philosophy is to know each person," Manners said. "What were his hobbies? What did he do for a living? Often, we can calm someone by doing something familiar."
Some known triggers can be eliminated, even in institutional settings. In JHA, patients can be given baths rather than showers. The overhead paging system is rarely used. Bank statements have been simplified, to make them more understandable, and residents have a locking drawer in their room, to securely store their possessions.
Facilities can also be made as homelike as possible. JHA's Goldenberg-Ziman Special Care Center, which opened a year ago on the Eisenberg campus with 96 beds for residents with dementia, offers lots of sunlight, with floor-to-ceiling windows, carpeted rooms and a soft décor. Some residents simply become less agitated as they become familiar with their surroundings and staff and relax into a routine.
"However," Fern said, "most children are extremely reluctant to place their survivor parents in facilities. It's a tough sell even to get them into adult day care."
Miriam, who declined to give her last name and whose mother, 78, suffers from Alzheimer's, arranges care for her parents in their own home. That is also their wish.
"They've gone through so much in life," she said. "I don't want anything at the end of their lives to resemble the hardships they went through at the beginning."
Golan's parents, on the other hand, independently made the decision to move into the JHA in 1995. She visits them several times a week, though she's not certain her mother realizes she's there.
"She's fighting for her life," Golan said, explaining that her mother's first husband was beaten to death in front of her, just before her 2-year-old daughter was taken away. She subsequently spent time in Auschwitz, Treblinka and Mauthausen.
"Once was enough," Golan said. "Once was too much."
You can't hide from justice forever—not even for war crimes committed decades in the past, and not even when you're 93.
The arrest of an Auschwitz guard is part of Germany's last attempt to bring the aged men to justice.
By Diane Cole , for National Geographic News, published May 10, 2013
That message resounded loudly this week as Germany announced the arrest of Hans Lipschis, age 93, for complicity in mass murders that took place at the notorious Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he served as a guard in 1941-1945. Lipschis—who says he worked as a cook at Auschwitz—is the first to be charged from among a list of 50 former Auschwitz guards that the country's Central Office of the Judicial Authorities for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes plans to probe.
The Demjanjuk Precedent
Why go after them now, 68 years after the end of World War II? Because it was not always possible to do so in the past. In 2011, the conviction in Germany of Ukrainian-born John Demjanjuk, who had served as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Poland, set a legal precedent for interpreting evidence more broadly than before. Until then, German prosecutors essentially had to prove that a suspect had committed specific crimes against specific victims at a particular time and date, and such direct evidence against camp guards was difficult to produce.
Demjanjuk's conviction—in which his SS identity card from Sobibor played a major role—"was a game-changer because it allows for the prosecution of people who would otherwise not have been prosecuted," said Efraim Zuroff, the Chief Nazi Hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a global Jewish human rights organization whose mission includes confronting anti-Semitism and promoting tolerance.
As a result of the Demjanjuk precedent, guards who worked at death camps could be charged with abetting, contributing to, or being complicit in the killings that took place there.
Lipschis is an example. "We don't know if Lipschis personally murdered anyone, but he served at Auschwitz for almost the entire time that the camp was in existence," Zuroff said. Lipschis had lived in Chicago since the 1950s, but was deported from the United States in 1983 for falsifying his past as a Nazi. Of the 50 former guards being sought for investigation in Germany, Lipschis was the only one to also appear on the SWC's 2013 Most Wanted Nazi War Criminals list.
Number One on the List
The highly dubious "honor" of being number one on the SWC list goes to Laszlo Csatary, now 98. While serving as a senior police officer in Hungarian-occupied Slovakia in 1944, he organized the deportation of approximately 15,700 Jews to the Auschwitz death camp. In 1948, a Czechoslovak court convicted and sentenced him to death in absentia.
Csatary eluded authorities, fleeing Europe for Canada. He worked there as an art dealer until 1997, when Canadian authorities found out he had lied on his passport application and revoked his citizenship. He did not surface again until 2011, when he was spotted in Budapest, Hungary, as the result of a tip received by Operation Last Chance, a joint project of the SWC and the Tagum Shlishi Foundation of Miami. He awaits possible prosecution in Hungary, where he is currently under house arrest, or—if he is extradited—in Slovakia. "Until we exposed him, he was driving his own car," said Zuroff.
Second on the SWC list is Gerhard Sommer, a former SS-Untersturmfuehrer in the 16th Panzergrenadier Division Reichsfuehrer-SS, who was convicted in absentia in 2005 by a military court in La Spezia, Italy, for participating in the 1944 massacre of 560 civilians in Sant'Anna di Stazzema. No criminal charges have as yet been brought in Germany, where Sommer now lives in a nursing home. "We're not that optimistic" about his being brought to justice, said Zuroff, "because he has been under investigation for several years, but so far there has been no progress in prosecuting him."
Vladimir Katriuk is third on the SWC list, which describes him as having served as a platoon commander of a Ukranian battalion that "carried out the murder of Jews and innocent civilians in various places in Belarus."
Like Csatary, Katriuk managed to emigrate to Canada after the war. He gained citizenship and was reported to have been a beekeeper and a prominent member of his local Orthodox Church. Although his citizenship was revoked in 1999 after his Nazi collaboration became known, the decision was overturned in 2007. Since then, however, new evidence has come to light about Katriuk's role in the mass murder of the residents of Khatyn, Belarus.
Why Age Is Not a Factor
Even though most of those on both lists are now in their late 80s or 90s, their age is no reason to stop seeking justice, said Zuroff, who is the author of Operation Last Chance: One Man's Quest to Bring Nazi Criminals to Justice. "Don't look at these people and say they look frail and weak. Think of someone who at the height of his powers devoted his energies to murdering men, women, and children."
He added: "The passage of time in no way diminishes the guilt of the killers. Old age should not provide protection. The fact that they have reached an elderly age does not turn them into righteous gentiles."
Holocaust historian and Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt agrees that there is no time limit. "Just because they did this a long time ago doesn't mean they should be exonerated," said Lipstadt, author of such books as Denying the Holocaust and The Eichmann Trial. "If someone raped children decades ago and we found that person now in his 80s or 90s, you would still say they should be tried. The victims deserve to have the perpetrators brought to justice. And society needs to know that you don't get a free pass."