A BOOK by ME: Holocaust Series

True stories written by children for children


Teaching History, Tolerance, Courage, Compassion, Kindness, Perseverance, Integrity, Cooperation and more.


This week A BOOK by ME series features
#30 A True American Liberator
The story of an American Liberator as told by
author/illustrator Amanda DeVilder of East Moline, Illinois

Amanda DeVilder &
Eugene Parmer
This week we highlight our young author and illustrator Amanda DeVilder of  East Moline, Illinois.
Hi!  My name is Amanda DeVilder!  I wrote and illustrated A True American Liberator when I was fifteen years old and a freshman at United Township High School in East Moline, Illinois.  In school, I participated in volleyball, basketball, track & field and student council.  I also enjoy reading and listening to music.

One thing I really want to do is travel.  In fact, I would really like to be a foreign exchange student.  I like history too and A BOOK by ME gave me a better understanding of the Holocaust.  You can't capture someone's feelings, thoughts, worries, or fears by reading a textbook.  But you can capture it when a person describes how they felt in their own words.

If someone told me they were thinking about being involved in this writing project, I would tell them, without hesitation, to go for it.  Only good things will come out of it.  Not only will you learn new things but you will pass on this information to young children who read your book.  Plus, you give the WWII veteran or Holocaust survivor recognition and honor they truly deserve.


Carol Eugene Parmer

92nd Signal Battalion

As a young boy, Eugene Parmer lived in Bettendorf, Iowa. Just before he joined the military he moved 40 miles north to the quiet town of Maquoketa, Iowa.  He joined the 92nd Signal Battalion who furnished communications for the United States Army. While serving in Europe during WWII, Eugene was ordered to join American soldiers liberating a concentration camp called Dachau. He was to investigate the camp's communication equipment and report to his officer.

When he arrived at Dachau, Eugene didn't want to park his weapons carrier at the main gate so he drove around the side of the camp. There he located railroad tracks with parked coal cars leading out of the camp.  Eugene's curiosity got the best of him so he climbed up the ladder. There was no coal in the cars. Eugene was not prepared for what he witnessed. Shock hit him hard. The train cars carried human bodies. Then he looked in the second car and there were more. He could not believe his eyes.  What he saw made him physically sick.

Eugene then approached the gate and shot the lock off with his revolver. Immediately, a prisoner who spoke English yelled "don't open the gate".  This man told other prisoners to stay back but then disappeared. The prisoners didn't listen and came towards Eugene and began to mob him.  He fell to the ground. The American soldier assumed they were after his rifle. But the Jewish prisoners did not want his rifle nor did they want to harm him. All they wanted was American flags lapel pin which was the Signal Corps insignia. All they wanted were the flags of their liberator.

The English speaking prisoner quickly returned with something to secure the gate. He wanted that gate shut! Eugene removed his flag pin and gave it to the man. The others backed away. The frightened soldier was relieved.

"Do you have some spare time?" asked the prisoner, "Follow me."

As they walked past buildings, Eugene saw more death. The horrors of this war were everywhere. Then the prisoner suggested Eugene get his rifle ready. What was going to happen?

They uncovered a German guard who hid when the camp was liberated. It wasn't safe for the guard to be surrounded by angry prisoners. There was another guard hiding in a 55 gallon container used to store human waste. When they tipped it over, the guard fell out. His life was also in danger. The German guards had been cruel. Now the prisoners wanted revenge.

Eugene needed to stay focused and asked the English speaking prisoner to show him the signal equipment and he did. Finally, his simple yet dangerous mission was accomplished. The young soldier returned to his regular duty.

Those horrible memories of war stayed with Eugene his whole life. Years later at an event recognizing veterans, Eugene listened to a grateful Holocaust survivor speak to the audience. While she spoke about her memories, Eugene felt sick all over again - just like he felt during his time at Dachau.

Eugene returned to and lives today in historical Maquoketa, Iowa.  When Eugene is asked what message he'd like to say to children, he replies:  "Children should see pictures and realize what can happen if we lost our freedom. I have no words to express my feelings towards these people. If I hadn't seen it, I don't know if I'd believe it. It happened."

Deb Bowen
Creator, A BOOK by ME
To learn more about A BOOK by ME...
A BOOK by ME: Holocaust Series

True stories written by children for children


Teaching History, Tolerance, Courage, Compassion, Kindness, Perseverance, Integrity, Cooperation and more.
Announcing a new title in the A BOOK by ME series
#74 The Footstool
The story of a Catholic husband and wife taken from their
happy lives in Poland to serve as forced labor under the Nazis.
Written by Alanna Rumler and illustrated by Jennifer Banks.
Both girls are from Geneseo, Illinois.
Alanna Rumler
Alanna Rumler
The next book to be released in the Holocaust Series is The Footstool by young author Alanna Rumler, illustrated by Jennifer Banks, both of Geneseo, Illinois.
This story was told to Alanna by the granddaughter of the survivor named Jozef Kodyra. Ironically, Jozef was born in the United States and his family moved to Poland when he was a young boy. He grew up there, married Helena and started their family.

Ironically they are not Jewish but nonetheless were taken as prisoners to Dachau Concentration Camp. You can read more about their story below.
It's wonderful the young author was able to meet Jozef's granddaughter named Amanda who passed along his story. Amanda, Alanna and the young artist named Jennifer were able to preserve the story for future generations.

Amanda would like to speak in classrooms in the Quad Cities area to help educate students. If you know a teacher or you are a teacher interested in your class hearing this important story, please contact us today.  She will have copies of this book to sell by April 12.
Sincerely excited about storytelling,
Deb Bowen
Creator, A BOOK by ME
A BOOK by ME: Holocaust Series

True stories written by children for children


Teaching History, Tolerance, Courage, Compassion, Kindness, Perseverance, Integrity, Cooperation and more.
Announcing a new title in the A BOOK by ME series
#52 A Hidden Life
The story of Jewish survivor Michelle Rubovitz as told by
author/illustrator Chloe Marie Gosa of Rock Island, Illinois


This week we highlight our young author and illustrator Chloe Marie Gosa of Rock Island, Illinois. Chloe's grandmother is Dr. Marrietta Castle, a distinguished member of the Holocaust Education Committee of the Greater Quad Cities. Chloe's grand parents lived next door to the Rubovitz family in Rock Island for many years. She has known Michelle her entire life and it's an honor to tell her story through ABBM.

Michelle and her husband, Rabbi Chuck Rubovitz, live in Joliet where he is Rabbi at Joliet Jewish Congregation. Grants are being written through the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities this spring to put this book (and many others as well) into schools in Iowa and Illinois. If grants are received, these books will soon be in the hands of teachers and students.

Today we salute both Michelle and Chloe for telling this amazing story. Through her work at the public library, many students in the Quad Cities know Michelle.  The Holocaust will become more real to them when they read this book.
We encourage other young authors (especially those personally knowing survivor stories or having stories in their families) to embark on this amazing journey of writing the stories for future generations.

Michelle Trop Rubovitz
When Michelle Trop was born on June 2, 1938, her family was living in the small village of Orleanais, France located about 30 miles southwest of Lyon. Her parents, Sonia and Jacob Trop, had moved to southern France in 1936. Before that they lived in Grodno, Poland. Jacob's and Sonia's families had lived in Poland for many generations. Jacob's father, his grandfather, and all his uncles had been bakers there. Although Jacob made a living in Orleanais as a plumber, Michelle later recalled how good he was at baking because he grew up around bakers. She especially remembered that he made a wonderful jelly roll treat for Rosh Hashanah each year after the war.
As more and more restrictions were being placed on their lives as Jews living in Poland, the Trops began to think of leaving. Riots in that country reflected a growing anti-Semitism, and when Hitler took over Germany, they heard about the horrible things that were happening to the Jews there. So, when the Trops moved to France, they thought they would be avoiding many of these problems. In the early 1930s, even before the Trops moved to France, two of Sonia's aunts immigrated from Poland to the Untied States with their families in order to escape persecution.

Between 1936 and 1939 life for the Trop family in Orleanais was a happy one. Jacob's business as a plumber was going well, and Sonia enjoyed being a homemaker caring for baby Michelle. Their home was in a two-story, C-shaped building, with Jacob's plumbing shop downstairs and the living quarters upstairs over the shop. Michelle remembers that beautiful flowerboxes were situated in every window across the top floor.

When German troops invaded Poland in the fall of 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany. Jacob became increasingly concerned that France would fall under Nazi rule, which it eventually did. Of course, being Jewish meant the possibility of being sent to a concentration camp or being killed outright. At that time he decided to go underground and join the French resistance, so he arranged for Sonia and baby Michelle to live with a Catholic family on a remote farm in the French countryside.

Michelle was only one year old when she arrived at the farm with her mother, so she was too young to even remember having lived in Orleanais before the war. She and her mother remained on the farm for the next six years. Her earliest memories are of life on the farm. The farmer's wife treated Sonia and Michelle as part of her family and told Nazi soldiers, when they came to inquire, that both husbands were away fighting in the French army. In order to protect Michelle and her own life, Sonia didn't tell Michelle that she had a father or even that she was Jewish. Sonia knew that if Michelle were questioned by anyone about these matters, she could answer truthfully without any knowledge of either. That's why, when Michelle was question about her father by a Nazi soldier who came to the farm, she answered, "I don't have a father."

Jacob visited Sonia at night several times over those six years, without Michelle ever knowing that he came and went. She happily played around the farm, climbing cherry trees in the orchard and taking care of her baby brother, Charles, who was born on November 10, 1942. Michelle remembered running to hide in the cherry orchard when her baby brother, whom she was supposed to be watching over, fell down an outside stairway. He was not badly injured, but Michelle knew she would be blamed for his fall. After her father returned in 1945, Michelle learned that he had also hid in a cherry tree at one time to avoid being discovered by the Nazi soldiers who visited the farmhouse.

Although Michelle's father rarely mentioned his activities while fighting with the French Underground, he did tell a story about being captured one day along with some of his fellow partisans. They were put into a camp and then were forced to march in a line to what he though was likely a certain death. Realizing what was going on, he began looking for a way out. As the line moved past a small, wooden building, he noticed that a plumber had left his tools and coveralls behind. Carefully sneaking out of the line, he put on the coveralls, picked up the tools and some pipes lying nearby, and walked out of the camp right under the noses of the guards.

In the spring of 1945 when World War II ended in Europe, the Trop family moved back to Orleanais to resume their life together there as a family. At seven years old, Michelle found out that she did indeed have a father. Her first memory of discovering that she was Jewish was when the family celebrated Passover that spring and her father brought out the Matzoh. She knew nothing about Passover, had never seen Matzoh before, and had not tasted chicken soup with matzo balls like Sonia prepared. From that time onward, her family celebrated the Jewish holidays and Michelle began to learn Hebrew.Spring of 1945 was also when Sonia's cousin Mitchell came to visit the family Orleanais. He was the son of one of Sonia's aunts who had immigrated to the United States from Poland in the early 1930s. Michelle remembered being in awe of this handsome American soldier when he visited her home, but she was also confused at first when she heard Sonia call him by name and give him a big hug. His visit was a most happy reunion, but Michelle couldn't understand what was said at that time because her parents spoke Yiddish, a language similar to Germany used mostly by Jews from Eastern Europe. Mitchell had obviously learned Yiddish from his parents. Otherwise, he would not have been able to communicate with Sonia and Jacob at that first meeting. Michelle later learned her parents spoke Polish, Russian, and German, and they read Hebrew.

With the help of Mitchell's family in America as sponsors, the Trop family (with a new daughter Annick, born October 11, 1946) was able to immigrate to the United States in 1950. Today Michelle lives in Joliet, Illinois with her husband of 52 years, Rabbi Chuck Rubovitz. For years they lived in Rock Island, Illinois where Michelle worked for the public library. They raised their two sons, David and Robert there and today have four beautiful grandchildren: Sara Brinna, Jakob, Kyle and Evie.

Deb Bowen
Creator, A BOOK by ME
To learn more about A BOOK by ME...
esther avruch young framed Esther katz - young framed esther schiff - young framed
A BOOK by ME was born to tell the stories of three Jewish survivors from the Quad Cities, each named Esther.  We honor our friends Esther Avruch, Esther Katz and Esther Schiff.  Because of the inspiration they provided, 70 stories have been written or are in process.

I'm asking ordinary children all over the world to use their talents to share extraordinary stories. Many students write about Holocaust survivors, Righteous Gentiles (non-Jews who risked their lives to save the Jewish people), prison camp liberators and other important stories of World War II. Since this generation is getting older, the time to interview them, write and illustrate their important story is RIGHT NOW!
-Deb Bowen

The children of Danville (Iowa) schools are collecting postcards in remembrance of the 1.5 million Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust.  They would like people to send cards from all around the world.  Anne Frank collected postcards so she inspired the children in Iowa who just launched this outreach a week ago.  It's all new!

Also, two students from Burlington (Iowa) wrote and illustrated a children's book for a collection called A BOOK by ME.  It's called Oceans Apart and it tells the story of Anne having a pen pal from Danville named Juanita Wagner.  The original letters Anne sent her (also letters from Margot Frank to Juanita's older sister Betty Ann and a final letter from Otto Frank letting the girls from Iowa know his wife and daughters perished in a concentration camp) are in The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.
The details of these two Holocaust educational projects can be found on my website at www.abookbyme.com.  The icon of Anne Frank at the top will take you right to a platform which explains the projects and offers advanced book sales.
Happy holidays and thank you!

Mwalimu William Karisa and author Deb BowenSeventeen-year-old Mwalimu William Karisa, a Kenyan exchange student in Davenport, won't need luggage to carry a gift home to Africa. He is taking clean drinking water for his village.

Mwalimu lives with hosts Mark and Dawn Thompson and attended Davenport West High School, where he's been on the soccer and cross-country teams. He said the idea of team spirit was new to him.

Last fall, a man originally from Kenya visited West High School, and the two Africans met. Mwalimu shared his village's need for drinking water with Pastor Joshua Ngao of Fishers of Men Ministries. Joshua understood that Mwalimu's greatest needs at home were basic and agreed to help him raise funds needed to dig a well for his village, Mariango.

In December, Mwalimu explained his family's situation to his hosts, his exchange-student coordinator, and his fellow exchange students. At times he couldn't make eye contact when explaining that his mother walks four miles in extreme heat - many times twice a day - to collect drinking water. He also said he contracted malaria four times in his life, and many children in his village die from waterborne disease.