Saturday, December 12, 2015

An introduction to "My Journey of Faith and Hope"

For the past six months, I've had the honor of working closely with Mary Stocki McKinstray in bringing to life her mother's memoir, My Journey of Faith and Hope.  During the process of writing The LaceMakers and Franciszka's narrative, the tumultuous world in which we now live often reminded me of events from the early to mid-1900's.  When Mary asked me to write the introduction, I felt blessed to share what this work has meant to me and how it's changed my perspective of the past and my place in this world.  Please enjoy and share our labor of love.

Introduction to My Journey of Faith and Hope

This year commemorates the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II and the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.  In preparing to write The Lace Makers, I spent nearly a year researching literature, attending lectures, and watching hours of World War II footage, yet there were very few stories told by Polish survivors of the Russian labor camps in Siberia. 
While Jews all across Europe were murdered during the Holocaust, Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, Slavs, Serbs, Czechs, Gypsies, Roman Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, political prisoners, and the mentally ill were also taken from their homes and unlawfully incarcerated.  Many of them were systematically executed; even more succumbed to starvation, exposure, and disease.  By the end of the war, between one-third and one-half of the Polish population had died...nearly six million people.  Half of them were Christians.  Conventional history has proven to only reveal pieces of the puzzle, not the complete narrative. 
The Holocaust was not primarily a Jewish genocide.  First and foremost, it was a human tragedy, one that our world is still embodying in ways both explicit and concealed.   Hitler and Stalin's regimes were not created in a vacuum and neither were their consequences.  Until we can completely acknowledge the full scope of the tragic events of our past and their catastrophic results, we are doomed to repeat them. 

When Mary Stocki McKinstray asked if I would help edit her mother's memoir, which Franciszka had been diligently writing in the years before her death, it was a rare opportunity to expand my awareness of the Holocaust through a first-hand and very personal account.  In weaving together Franciszka's notes which are hand-written in Polish/English, and references from other resources, Mary and I discovered a captivating narrative that goes beyond the war, beyond pain, suffering, and the reconstruction of a new life.  It's an incredible journey, one I've been blessed to nurture into publication.
While it has been an enormously daunting process, bringing this narrative to light has also been an honor.  Historical literature is predominantly written by men, yet women's stories are unique in that they allow readers to deeply experience the often overwhelming emotions and enormous psychological effects of waging war.  In My Journey of Faith and Hope, Franciszka's story reminds us that even though evil may pervade for a while, faith, hope, and love transcend time and space.  The extraordinary courage she found in her later years to record her memories for her children has been an inspiration. 
This book is a legacy of a woman who embodied resilience when confronted with hatred, endurance while accepting the unknown, and peace at the end of a long, difficult path to liberation.

Kate Ingersoll
Toledo, Ohio
November, 2015

Discover this book online here.