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A board-certified internist, Dr. Allen Malnak served as chief of medicine at Fort Sill, OK, and was medical director of a number of organizations, including the Emergency Department of Chicago’s Mount Sinai Hospital. During his long medical career in the Chicago area, he was also a clinical investigator in liver disease as well as an assistant clinical professor at the Stritch School of Medicine, and a practicing internist. Following retirement, he and his wife Patricia moved to Bonita Springs, Florida. His interest in the Holocaust was sparked by the fact that all the men, women and children of his father’s large Lithuanian family were sent to a death camp by the Nazis and murdered.

Thanks for this interview and congratulations on the release of your suspense thriller, Hitler’s Silver Box. What compelled you to write this story?

When my father came to America in 1906 at age 16, he had only one distant relative in this country. He left behind in Kovno, Lithuania a large family, including his parents, eight brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles. They ranged in age from the elderly to babies. 

Dad died of natural causes during the Second World War and immediately following the war, my late brother Lewis and I began to try to track down our father’s European family. I was just 16 when the war ended. We wrote letters to everyone we could think of and after about a year received a detailed reply from the International Red Cross. Nazi records as well as witness reports indicated that all members of dad’s family had been murdered either in or near Kovno or after transfer to a death camp. Every man, woman and child! 

So, one entire side of my family was destroyed by the Nazis. Of course, I became interested in the Holocaust and began reading articles about it even during my high school and college years. During my internship at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital, I read a short book, Doctors of Infamy, which covered many horrendous medical experiments performed on concentration camp prisoners by Nazi physicians. The book was so disturbing that after reading it, I tossed it into a garbage can. My next book on the subject was Elie Weisel’s NIGHT.  I then became occupied with my professional career as well as with my growing family for many years. When I reached the age of forty, I decided I owed it to my dead family members to engage in a real study of that terrible time. I then spent perhaps two or three years of my limited free time reading every book I could find on the Holocaust. 

Years later, I retired from the practice and teaching of internal medicine, and my wife and I moved to Bonita Springs Florida. I noticed in the Naples Daily News an article describing a course in writing fiction being held at the Naples Philharmonic. The teacher was Hollis Alpert a well known novelist, biographer, short story editor as well as a movie critic. 

I took classes with Hollis for a couple of years. He would give us assignments, often listing several subjects that we should use as the basis of a short story. He would critique each story and at the next weekly session read some of them to the class. 

One topic I picked was titled “A Silver Box.” For some reason, I decided to write it about a concentration camp prisoner at the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp who was forced by a Nazi colonel to make a silver box which would be a present for Adolph Hitler. 

After reading the story in class, afterwards, Hollis suggested that this story could be expanded into a novel, and that started the process that eventually lead to Hitler’s Silver Box—A Novel

What parts of the novel are actual historical facts? 

While Hitler’s Silver Box—A Novel is a work of fiction, it’s loosely based on the fact that during the Second World War, Nazi scientists worked up to the war’s end on a multitude of secret weapons on which Hitler pinned his hopes for a last ditch victory. 

These weapon systems ranged from very long range rockets that could be fired from underground bases to alternative physics, robotic warriors, new energy sources, radical germ warfare and of course, nuclear weapons. 

In the novel, the facts were modified to suggest that many objects which were later called UFOs were also developed by Nazi scientists in concealed locations, and various secret laboratories were set up around the world including in areas of both Arctic and Antarctic wastes where explorers had never trekked. 

What was your writing process like while working on this novel? Did you have a disciplined schedule? 

Because of various acute and chronic illnesses, I could not keep to a writing schedule. I followed the mantra of “write—rewrite—get it right.” Unlike many expert suggestions, I constantly re-edited my previous work, then edited it again and again.

From conception to typing ‘The End,’ how long did it take you?

About ten years.

The story takes the reader from Chicago to Paris to the Czech Republic. Did you travel to Europe as part of the research?

I have visited many countries in Europe and Paris is my favorite city in the world. I had many plans to visit the Czech Republic, but like Max in the book, health problems kept canceling the plans.

What was the hardest part of writing Hitler’s Silver Box?

Dialogue and careful descriptions were difficult crafts to understand and learn, but the hardest part was describing the conditions that Max went through in the concentration camp using the “particular” silver, the provenance of which nearly drove him and me mad. The dramatic ER scenes were easier because they were based on my personal experiences. Since like Bruce in the novel, I also have claustrophobia in tunnels, writing that scene caused me some discomfort.

What’s in the horizon for Allen Malnak?

If my health holds up, I just might write a sequel to Hitler’s Silver Box. If the Spielberg types come sniffin; around to make the novel into a movie, well I just might be forced to interview Charlize Theron to see if she’s “hot” enough to play Sari.

Any last words to my readers?

The incidents that pushed me to finish Hitler’s Silver Box were linked to the website of one of our local newspapers. Two anonymous neo-Nazis constantly spewed their racist, ant-Semitic slurs, bragging about their continued worship of Adolph Hitler and the murderous Waffen SS, while denying every aspect of the Holocaust.

I’ll close with a quote from a novelist, Jerry Ahern, who reviewed my book for “Gun World Magazine.”  

“Future generations have serious responsibilities, chief among these not to repeat past mistakes. Sadly, these days, there are still those who, out of ignorance or foul intentions, somehow revere the scourge that was National Socialism. That’s why, it’s good for the rest of us to get reminded from time to time, at least, how truly despicable the Nazis were.”

Read more about the author and Hitler’s Silver Box:  

http://naples.floridaweekly.com/news/2012-01-12/PDF/Page_080.pdf

http://naples.floridaweekly.com/news/2012-01-12/PDF/Page_081.pdf

Website: www.hitlerssilverbox.com

Purchase from Amazon.

This article originally appeared in Blogcritics.

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Dina’s Lost Tribe is a historical novel that weaves four different stories and spans from the 14th century to our present time.

Henner Marcus is a professor of French Medieval Jewish Philosophy based in Chicago. One day he receives a letter from his cousin, Nina Aschauer, who’s been missing for the last five years. A historian with a brilliant, promising career, she had left Chicago and travelled to France in search of the place she was accidentally born while her parents fled from the Nazis, a remote village in the Pyranees by the name of Valladine, a place not even present in maps.

In the letter, Nina urgently begs him to meet her in Toulouse with a large sum of money. Deeply intrigued and out of concern for his cousin’s safety, Henner makes the 5,000-mile trip. Once in Toulouse, he receives an unexpected package containing a mysterious manuscript. The manuscript appears to be a codex written in medieval Occitan, a language still spoken today in the area of Languedoc. Henner also meets Etoile, a historian and Nina’s best friend.

Together, Henner and Etoile begin deciphering the codex and soon become entranced by the fascinating first-person account and by its author, Dina, a Jewess born into a wealthy, pious family who falls prey to a deceitful, lustful priest and eventually ended up incarcerated in the prison of the Inquisition. Her tale describes the expulsion of the Jews from France in the early 1300s. Thus the novel moves back and forth in time and interweaves Henner’s, Nina’s, Etoile’s and Dina’s persecution stories.

Who is this Dina Miryam? Did she really exist? Is her account real? How is her story connected to Nina’s and why did Nina disappear five years ago into a presumed village no one knows about?

Dina’s Lost Tribe is an interesting, at times engrossing read. The author does a skillful job in keeping each story distinct in flavor from the other. I’m not a historian so I can’t comment on the veracity of the facts, but from a reader’s point of view, the book seems extensively researched. As I read Dina’s tale, I was transported to a time and place where horrible injustices where committed. Like Henner and Etoile, I too was entranced with Dina, a woman who tried to remain brave and strong against all adversity. The author draws interesting parallels between Dina and the old biblical character with the same name. She also explores various themes, such as the hypocrisy of religion, the capacity of one human being to hurt another, the harmful consequences of ignorance and superstition, and the power of one individual to overwhelm and control another.

This is a slow read, for the simple reason that there’s a lot to be absorbed. The paragraphs are often long and written in heavy-handed language. If what you’re looking for is a fast-paced page-turner, this isn’t the book for you. However, it is the perfect novel for those who enjoy history, meaning and depth in their stories. The premise is intriguing and original and I felt I had taken a little history course at the end, which is always a plus.

Dina’s Lost Tribe
By Brigitte Goldstein
iUniverse, Inc.
September 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1450251075
Paperback, 412 pages, $22.95, ebook $9.99
Historical Fiction
Author’s website
Amazon

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I recently had the opportunity to read Mathias B. Freese’s The i Tetralogy. You 41rg7zxwvsl_sl500_aa240_may read my review of this book at Today.com.

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