A balm to the soul in a weary world, Carol Birch’s luminous stories and warm, soothing voice assure us that even in the most desperate of times the human capacity for compassion and kindness shines like a beacon to guide our way." — Jennifer Munro, Storyteller/Author
Big moments in history make the textbooks; smaller moments, while life-changing in their time, can drift into obscurity, unless revived by writers, historians, and storytellers. Here, two World War II-era stories of compassion that occurred under very different circumstances are given new life by award-winning storyteller Carol Birch.
In "Passing Through the Heartland: The Story of the North Platte Canteen," trains carrying troops from all over the U.S. on their way to war zones overseas, would stop in the small Nebraska town of North Platte, where, in a spontaneous grassroots volunteer effort, the townspeople welcomed them as surrogate sons, offering warm thanks for their service to come, feeding them and as the effort grew, giving them a place to relax, listen to music and dance. (An estimated six million GIs received this warm welcome.)
"Anger is contagious," but so is kindness, Birch says, introducing the second story, "Luba: The Angel of Bergen-Belsen." It is the compelling true-life account of Holocaust survivor and nurse Luba Tryszynska-Frederick, who, incredibly, while imprisoned in the Bergen-Belsen Nazi concentration camp, saw to the survival of dozens of Dutch-Jewish children there, many of whom would be on hand to when she was honored in Amsterdam in 1995. The album ends with a short but telling folk tale, "Heaven on Earth," illustrating what compassion and empathy can accomplish. by Lynne Heffley ©2016 Parents’ Choice
Lynne Heffley ©2016 Parents' Choice
PASSING THROUGH THE HEARTLAND: THE STORY OF THE NORTH PLATTE CANTEEN. During WWII, the astounding generosity and hard work of people in Nebraska fed those who served our nation. To the best of my ability, facts are true, though names and quotes are fictional interpretations.
LUBA: THE ANGEL OF BERGEN-BELSEN. In stark contrast to six million military personnel fed by the good people of Nebraska, six million Jews perished in the Holocaust. Luba Tryszynska-Frederick’s story bears witness that in the most depraved and despairing places, courage and compassion are possible and contagious. Her self-sacrifice and daring on behalf of fifty-four children, whose fathers were diamond cutters from Amsterdam, shattered ennui and cynicism then; it is my hope hearing the story shatters them both even today.
In publishing Luba Tryszynska’s story, Michelle McCann preserved a valuable oral narrative; her book extends the story beyond the lives of those who lived it. I am humbled and grateful that Ms. McCann generously allowed her printed text to return to an oral form once more. I hope it will send those who hear it back to her book and to other books that bear witness to all the human heart can hold.
HEAVEN ON EARTH. An ancient tale reminds us that in caring for others, we just might create heaven on earth.
PASSING THROUGH THE HEARTLAND: The Story of the North Platte Canteen interpretations.“Unlikely Heroes” from On the Road with Charles Kuralt by Charles Kuralt. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1985, pp 30-35. Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen by Bob Greene. Wm. Morrow, 2002.
Internet sources include:
YOUTUBE SOURCES INCLUDE:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=07DGeLvDw8I A popular video produced by Cru Military.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYHQRKUB62I Rosalie Lippincott’s presentation of her firsthand experience with the North Platte Canteen.
LUBA: THE ANGEL OF BERGEN-BELSEN by Michelle Roehm McCann, by Luba Tryszynska-Frederick. Illustrations by Ann Marshall. Published by Random House Children’s Book, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Text Copyright © 2003 by Michelle R. McCann.
HEAVEN ON EARTH An ancient tale reminds us that in caring for others, we just might create heaven on earth.
One print version of this story is “Heaven and Hell” in PEACE TALES by Margaret Read MacDonald. Linnet Books, 1992.