Friday, July 1, 2016

A Survival Miracle

by Cindy K. Stewart

Last month I shared about the Soviet invasion of Poland on the seventeen day of WWII and the subsequent ruthless treatment of the captured Polish officers. If you missed the post and would like to read it, you can find it at this link:  Massacres and Miracles.

Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
In late September, 1939, the Soviets and Germans divided Poland - the Soviets occupied the eastern section of the country. Before WWI, this area belonged to Russia but was awarded to Poland following the war. At this time, Polish settlers, Ukrainians, and Russians occupied the territory. Starting in February of 1940, the Soviets exiled the Polish settlers to Siberia and other far flung locations to work in labor camps. The exact number of people transported will never be known, but estimates indicate at least a million men, women, and children were forcibly removed and sent to the USSR. Later, the Soviets also exiled some Ukrainians.

After the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in June of 1941, the Soviets allied themselves with England and consequently with the Polish Government in Exile in London. Stalin agreed to release the Polish captives held in the Soviet Union and to allow the Polish Army to re-organize to fight the Germans. This army initially formed in Uzbekistan but later moved to the Middle East. Polish civilians left the Soviet Union along the same path as the newly formed army (Anders Army).

A small portion of the former captives successfully escaped the Soviet Union and arrived in the west where they shared their stories.

Here is the account of one fourteen-year-old survivor.

Danuta Maczka - 1939
Courtesy of Kresy Family
Danuta Maczka lived with her family on a farm near Rowne in the Eastern Borderlands of Poland, now part of Ukraine. In October of 1939, the local Ukrainian Committee (established by the Soviets) evicted her family from their home. They were allowed to take food, some furniture, their two dogs, and a few personal possessions with them. They settled in a rented apartment in a Jewish house in a small town nearby, but the NKVD continued to pester them.

Danuta (bottom right) 
with family
Courtesy of the BBC
At 6:00 AM on February 10th, 1940, the NKVD (Soviet Secret Police) and Ukrainian police awakened the Maczkas and gave them a two-hour notice to pack. Their destination—Siberia. In icy cold temperatures, they traveled for two hours by sledge through deep snow to the railway station where they boarded a cattle truck with many other Polish settlers. A few days later they transferred to a Soviet cattle truck, holding seventy-two people. Double bunks lined the sides of the car, a stove occupied the center, and one tiny grilled window admitted a little light and air. A hole in the floor provided for hygiene needs. Danuta and her family rode in this locked car for sixteen days. Occasionally they were given food, water, and coal for the stove.  

They reached Kotlas in Siberia, and Danuta’s stepmother contracted pneumonia. She was taken to the hospital where she recovered. Meanwhile, the rest of the family traveled 25 kilometers by sledge during a huge snowstorm with the temperature at -40° Celsius.

For the next twenty-two months, the Maczkas lived in various huts and barracks, working deep in the Siberian forests. They were paid for their work, felling trees, removing branches, working in a sawmill, stripping bark, sawing wood, and building small wooden houses. Danuta’s younger brother and sister, Tadzio and Zosia, attended school, but Danuta, her father, and her older brother, Bogus, worked.

In the summer and autumn, Danuta was allowed to leave the camp and collect berries and mushrooms in the forest. In a small plot of soil, they planted vegetables, potatoes, onions, cucumbers, and beans, which grew rapidly in the almost twenty-four-hour-a-day sunlight. Everyone worked in the forest, the saw-mill, or on the collective farm or they didn’t receive their bread ration. Many became sick and died.

Zosia caught the flu in October, was hospitalized for two weeks in December, and died alone in the hospital on Christmas Eve. Tadzio broke his leg in school, and it didn’t heal properly because of the lack of adequate medical treatment.

On June 22, 1941, the Germans invaded Soviet territory, initiating the German-Soviet War and the Soviet alliance with the Allies. On July 31st, the Maczkas learned that the Soviets had signed a treaty with the Polish government in London, granting amnesty to all Poles on Soviet territory. Danuta and her family rejoiced that God had answered their prayers. Although the first discharge papers were issued on September 5th, the Maczkas didn’t receive their papers until December 27th. With the Soviets at war, the exiles were no longer paid for their work, and food was rationed. Christmas dinner consisted of a few pieces of dried bread and hope that they would soon leave the Soviet Union.

With great joy, Danuta and her family boarded their train to freedom on January 1st, 1942. Impatient to join the Polish Army before receiving his papers, her brother Bogus had left with friends in November.

Danuta's Route Map - Courtesy of Kressy Family

After many weeks of riding the rails, on February 22nd the Maczkas arrived in Guzar, Uzbekistan, the location of the 7th Division of the Polish Army. Danuta claimed she was eighteen so she could volunteer for the Polish Women’s Auxiliary Service (she was only sixteen). She was issued a man’s military uniform many sizes too big for her, a rifle with no bullets, and a bayonet. But she was proud to be in the Polish Army! 

Danuta’s father found Bogus in the hospital recovering from typhoid – he and his friends had faced a very difficult journey. Without government papers, they had not been allowed to obtain rations at the railroad station canteens.

Danuta Maczka 18.V.42 Teheran (before typhoid).
She was doing a nursing course in the 4th hospital
(Red Cross) at the time. Courtesy of Kresy-Siberia.
All the Maczkas traveled by train with the Polish Army to Krasnovodsk near the Caspian Sea and by boat to Persia. Many passengers suffered from typhoid and dysentery, and some died on the trip. 

The Maczkas arrived in Teheran in early April. A Polish doctor operated on Tadzio’s leg, and Danuta’s father and older brother departed with the army. Danuta contracted typhoid fever and nearly died.

This is Danuta Maczka’s Dodge D15. 

After a two-and-a-half-month hospital stay, Danuta recovered and joined the transport office. She drove heavy vehicles, delivering supplies to military units in Egypt and later Italy. During the Italian campaign, she met 2nd Lt. Jerzy Gradosilski  and married him after the war. They later settled in England and had six children. Danuta's stepmother and Tadzio remained in Palestine until the war ended. Her father and brother also survived the war. 

Danuta and Jerzy Gradosielski. Italy 1945.
Courtesy of Kresy-Siberia.


Cindy Stewart, a high school teacher, church pianist, and inspirational historical fiction author, was the historical category winner for ACFW’s 2014 First Impressions writing contest, a 2014 Bronze medalist in My Book Therapy’s Frasier contest, and tied for second place in the 2015 South Carolina ACFW First Five Pages contest. Cindy is passionate about revealing God’s handiwork in history. She resides in North Georgia with her college sweetheart and husband of thirty-five years and enjoys visits with her daughter, son-in-law, and three adorable grandchildren. She’s currently writing a fiction series set in WWII Europe.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Summer Reading Checklist--Don't Miss These!



Once again we've got a handy-dandy checklist of sizzling reads to keep you mersmerized this summer. Whether your days are lazy and hazy or frantic and full, you'll  appreciate winding down to escape into a good book--and we've got one to fit your every reading mood, from sweet and romantic to mysterious or downright suspenseful. Pick a few books--and be ready for summer! 

Happy reading!

We proudly recommend the following.

Why? Because they're ours--they come right from our hearts--the authors who write the posts for this blog each day.

Click on the Book Covers to Get Your Copy!

The Charleston earthquake has left destruction like nothing Doctor Andrew Warwick has ever seen. On a desperate mission to find the lady who owns his heart, he frantically searches through the rubble, where he finds her injured and lifeless. After she regains consciousness, the doctor’s hopes are quickly dashed as he realizes she doesn’t remember him. Things only get worse when he discovers she believes she’s still engaged to the abusive scoundrel, Lloyd Pratt. Now Drew is on a race with the wedding clock to either help her remember or win her heart again before she marries the wrong man.

Waking in a makeshift hospital, Olivia Macqueen finds herself recovering from a head injury. With amnesia stealing a year of her memories, she has trouble discerning between lies and truth. When her memories start returning in bits and pieces, she must keep up the charade of amnesia until she can find out the truth behind the embezzlement of her family’s business while evading the danger lurking around her.

New from Vickie McDonough!
Dusty Starr is unstoppable in the rodeo arena, but when it comes to love? He was bucked off long ago. Now he has a second chance at love, but will he have what it takes to win? 

In 1942, Lexie Smithfield becomes heir to her family's vacation home on Jekyll Island, and a mysterious telegram beckons her return. Ten years before, tragedies convinced her mother the island was cursed, and the home in the exclusive Millionaire's Club was abandoned.  Russell Thompson knows what really happened, but swore never to tell. Will Lexie discover the real danger before it's too late? 


Three riveting short stories follow Samuel Adams as he struggles through the events surrounding the Declaration of Independence and evokes the Dawn of Liberty.

Liberty comes with a price. Can a fledgling nation bear the cost?
British forces advance upon a struggling colonial army. The time of decision has come. Declare independence, or give up the fight. The weight of a nation rests on Samuel Adams' shoulders as he joins the delegates of the Second Continental Congress. Can he raise the cause of Liberty above the fear of the King's wrath in the hearts of his countrymen?

Seattle debutante Sofi Andersson will do everything in her power to protect her sister who is suffering from shock over their father's death. Charles, the family busy-body, threatens to lock Trina in a sanatorium--a whitewashed term for an insane asylum--so Sofi will rescue her little sister, even if it means running away to the Cascade Mountains with only the new gardener Neil Macpherson to protect them. But in a cabin high in the Cascades, Sofi begins to recognize that the handsome immigrant from Ireland harbors secrets of his own. Can she trust this man whose gentle manner brings such peace to her traumatized sister and such tumult to her own emotions? And can Neil, the gardener, continue to hide from Sofi that he is really Dr. Neil Galloway, a man wanted for murder by the British police? Only an act of faith and love will bridge the distance that separates lies from truth and safety.

Orphaned Annie Paxton and her brothers have lost the only home they've ever known and are determined to make a better future in St. Joseph, Missouri. Annie dreams of a pretty house with window boxes, having friends, and attending church every week. But then her brothers land jobs as Pony Express riders, and Annie puts her dreams on hold to work as a cook at Clearwater Ranch on the Pony Express route.  Annie struggles to adapt to her new job, and the gruff station owner doesn't seem inclined to make her life any easier. A friendship has just begun to blossom and builds between them when Annie attracts the attention of a refined, dashing lieutenant from nearby Fort Kearney. Annie must learn how to trust her instincts and follow her heart--even if she's conflicted about which way it's leading her. 

From heart-pounding battles on the high seas to the rigors of Valley Forge and the Shawnee’s savagely fought wars, Valley of the Shadow continues the thrilling saga of America’s founding.

New from Susan Page Davis! 1918, Rural Maine. Judith Chadbourne gave up her teaching job after her mother’s death to help her father with her five siblings. But when her brother Joel is drafted, the household chores and farm work may overwhelm her. Their neighbor, Ben Thayer, seems rich and mysterious, but his heart aches from his own loss. Judith accidentally breaks the antique ornament her mother loved. The splintering star echoes her family’s shattering. Joel falls ill at the army camp, and Ben’s concern may bring the beginnings of trust. Can love take Judith beyond the frozen Maine winter?

Beautiful historical romance novellas written just for you by some of today's best-selling and award-winning Christian authors! Sit back and relax while these four talented women whisk you back to simpler times in America's past... but with that simplicity came hard work and change, so curl up in your favorite spot and see what Mary, Ruthy, Pam and Cara have brought your way as you "Spring Into Love" with this new delightful Christian romance collection!

Meet 12 adventurous Victorian era women—a beekeeper who is afraid of bees, a music teacher whose dog has dug up a treasure, a baker who enters a faux courtship, and six more—along with the men they encounter while making summertime memories. Will these loves sown during summer be strengthened by faith and able to endure a lifetime?

Risking all their hopes and dreams on promises of fertile land in the Northwest, thousands set off on the Oregon Trail between 1843 and the 1890s. Despite the majestic landscape and daily opportunities for fireside chats, the trail was hardly the place these migrants expected to find romance. In these nine novellas, travelers on the wagon trains experience all the challenges and dangers of the trail. Some will lose much, settle down along the trail, and even turn back home, while others endure to the end. Readers will enjoy traveling along with the romantic adventures in which faith is honed.

New from Martha Lou Rogers! Summer Patterson, a photo-journalist for a popular magazine, is on a mission to capture the charm and nostalgia of the old Route 66 through the West Texas Panhandle in story and picture, but when her car breaks down in a "middle of nowhere" town, her mission takes a turn she never expected. Cody Harper is a retired rodeo champ filling in as a mechanic until he can get his own ranch. Repairing Summer's foreign car will take days, so he arranges for her to stay with his grandmother Ellis. Meeting the people of McLean, Texas and riding with Cody to discover the beauty of a part of Texas she'd never seen leads her in a direction she had no plans to take. She returns to her busy life in the city of Dallas, but her heart is back in West Texas where she lost it along Route 66.  Getting it back will be no easy task, especially if Cody has his way.

It's the spring of 1861 on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Amanda never thought she would marry because of a promise she made to her dying mother, but her attraction to Captain Kent Littlefield is undeniable.
When Texas secedes from the Union, her brother Daniel aligns with the Confederate States, while Kent remains with the Union troops.
Her heart is torn between the two men she is closest to and the two sides of the conflict. Amanda prays to God for direction and support, but hears only silence. Where is God in the atrocities of war―and whose side is He on?

Discover four heroines in historical Austin, TX, as they find love--Jane Austen style. Volume 1 includes:

If I Loved You Less by Gina Welborn, based on Emma
A prideful matchmaker examines her own heart when her protégé falls for the wrong suitor.

Refinements by Anita Mae Draper, based on Sense and Sensibility
A misguided academy graduate spends the summer falling in love . . . twice.

One Word from You by Susanne Dietze, based on Pride and Prejudice
A down-on-her-luck journalist finds the story of her dreams, but her prejudice may cost her true love . . . and her career.
Alarmingly Charming by Debra E. Marvin, based on Northanger Abbey
A timid gothic dime-novel enthusiast tries to solve the mystery of a haunted cemetery and, even more shocking, why two equally charming suitors compete for her attentions

In this action-packed sequel to PULSE, author L.R.Burkard takes readers on a heart-pounding journey into a landscape where teens shoulder rifles instead of school books, and where survival might mean becoming your own worst enemy.

Now that an EMP has sent the United States into a Dark Age, Andrea, Lexie and Sarah have more to worry about than the mere loss of technology. Threats of marauders and rumors of foreign soldiers mean no one can let down their guard. The appearance of FEMA camps might be reassuring--except military outfits seem determined to force people into them...With evil threatening on every side, can the U.S. recover before everyone--and everything--is destroyed?  

Do you make time for fun summer reading? Where's your favorite place to read--beach, bed, lazy chair? Where do other readers enjoy reading most? Leave a comment and let's compare notes!  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Some of the Deadliest Tornadoes in History Happened Around Palm Sunday

by Tamera Lynn Kraft
Throughout US history, super cell tornado outbreaks have been deadly. Early warning systems and storm shelters have helped greatly, but people are still killed by tornadoes every year, and the property damage is extensive. Since tornadoes have been recorded and measured by the National Weather Service, one weekend has proven more deadly than the rest – Palm Sunday weekend.

In my novella, Resurrection of Hope, the 1920 tornado outbreak is a part of the story, but there have been others. Here are the super cell tornado outbreaks.

March 28, 1920

At least 37 tornados hit the Midwest and Deep South. 380 were killed, 1,215 injured including over 200 in Georgia, 56 in Indiana, and 55 in Ohio. 

April 11-12, 1965

In the Midwest states of Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa, 47 tornados killed 271 people, 60 in Ohio, and injured 1,500, over 1,200 in Indiana.

April 3-4, 1974

The second largest outbreak in US history happened 3 days before Palm Sunday. 148 confirmed tornados hit with 30 F4/F5s.  It struck the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and New York and destroyed the city of Xenia, Ohio. On September 20, 2000, another F4 took the same path through Xenia, destroying the town again. Because warning sirens were in place, this time, it only killed one person.

March 27, 1994

This tornado outbreak killed 40 people and injured 141. 29 tornados struck Texas, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Goshen United Methodist Church in Piedmont, Alabama was struck during a Palm Sunday service where 21 people died.

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest.
Her novella, A Christmas Promise, is available on Amazon. Her novella Resurrection of Hope will be released next month.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tidbits About Cookbooks thru the 19th Century

For today's post I thought I'd share some cookbooks throughout the 19th Century all of these are linked to Google books so you can download or browse a copy for yourself. You might be wondering why a writer would want or be concerned with cookbooks from the time periods they're writing in. It gives you a deeper understanding of the food available at the time and the differences in the recipes. Today we hardly ever cook with lard but during the 19th century and the first 70 years of the 20th century lard was used regularly. I hope you enjoy this short list.

The First is The New Family Receipt This is an English publication from 1810. Not that Receipt is the older version of the word recipes. This book also includes other recipes for Household cleaners, purifying wool, cleaning silk, etc.

The Second is The New Family Receipt Updated in 1820 with over 800 receipts whereas the first one had over 700.

The Third is an earlier version of one I had downloaded before. The French Cook1822. The later version 1829 no longer seems to be on Google books.

The Fourth is the first American Cookbook in this list The American Frugal Housewife1835 This book in my opinion is very practical.

The Fifth book is The New England Economical Housekeeper This one has far more food recipes than some of the previous books listed.

The Sixth is from 1851 Miss Leslie's Complete Cookery Miss Leslie has many versions of this book and updated throughout the rest of the Century.

The Seventh is The Book of Household ManagementSome of the reasons I like these management books are that not only do they have recipes but they also give a good insight in how the social mindset of people of that generation thought. Mrs. Beeton also has many later versions of her book(s)

The Eighth is another book that's been updated throughout the century. Dr. Chase's Family Physician, Farrier, Bee-Keeper and Second Receipts Book And as you can see by the title it includes more than food recipes.

The Ninth is Mrs. Owens Cook Book and Useful Household Hints

And the tenth and final cookbook for this list comes from a church cookbook. I've collected several over the years after all who hasn't been to a great Church pot-luck. Cook Book of Tried Recipes

Lynn A. Coleman is an award winning & best-selling author who makes her home in Keystone Heights, Florida, with her husband of 42 years. Lynn's latest novel "The Shepherd's Betrothal" is the third book in her Historical St. Augustine, FL. series. Coming in Oct. The Rails to Love Romance Collection