Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Special evening with author Joanie Schirm who shares incredible Holocaust stories


March 23, 2018

Joanie Schirm

Central Floridians will have the opportunity to hear a compelling Holocaust survival story from local author Joanie Schirm. On April 3, she will speak on her incredible global research of her father's letters from nearly 80 years ago, which detail his flight from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, taking refuge in China, and moving to the USA. This special event is sponsored by Holocaust Memorial Research and Education Center of Florida, and The Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Orlando. The presentation will be at 7 p.m., at the Holocaust Center, 851 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland. It is free and open to the public.

Schirm 's father, Oswald "Valdik" Holzer, M.D., was a young Jewish physician in Prague, as the persecution of Jews intensified during the approach to World War II. In May 1939, he fled Czechoslovakia, and traveled more than 8,000 miles to China. His first location was Shanghai, which was then a rare refuge for many European Jews. During the next 21 months he corresponded with 78 other people during his time in China. Fortunately, he saved the approximately 400 letters, which provided the riveting narratives of his life and the lives of his friends and family. However, Dr. Holzer kept these letters locked in a box, which Schirm found after his death in 2000.

Recalling her father's stories about WWII and the Holocaust, she knew these letters had great historical significance. Schirm had the correspondence translated that were not in English. And she began the detective work of finding the people in these letters, and their relatives. Her years of genealogy work, and research for publication resulted in two highly-acclaimed books: "Adventurers Against Their Will" in 2013, and "My Dear Boy," which will be published in early 2019 by Potomac Books.

These sobering, yet fascinating books have led to scores of public appearances, news articles, and interviews for Schirm. The years of hard work and focus on the stories of Dr. Holzer have enabled Schirm to educate thousands of people on the horrors of tyranny and anti-Semitism. Her book also won the 2013 Global Ebook Award for nonfiction biography.

Schirm is now working on a permanent exhibit at the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida that is expected to open in the fall.

The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida, and The Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Orlando are committed to helping us learn about our heritage, and to share it with others. The HMREC conducts educational events and programs to promote peace and understanding, and to oppose hatred and prejudice. The JGSGO, founded in 1990, meets monthly from September through June, and has additional presentations streamed on the web to help you research your family history.

Additional details about Schirm and her books, including links to buy the books, are on her website, http://www.joanieschirm.com. For more information on The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida, visit http://www.holocaustedu.org/, or its Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/HMREC. The website for the JGSGO is http://www.jgsgo.org, and its Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/JGSGreaterOrlando/, and its Twitter page is https://twitter.com/jgsgorlando. Contact the JGSGO at info@jgsgo.org, or leave message at 407-494-4230.


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