In 1944, Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, her Aryan-like looks allow her to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, to maintain her cover as von Schmidt’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz.
Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths, Stella appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric's indulgence gives her hope even as she risks discovery with every attempt to help the prisoners. When her bravery brings her to the point of ultimate sacrifice, she faces an excruciating choice. God may have brought her to the camp for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she cannot save herself?
Patty, thank you so much for hosting me today and letting me share with your readers!
The Holocaust is a tough topic, particularly today. What made you decide to do a historical on such a difficult issue?
I got the idea to write For Such A Time while reading Queen Esther’s story in the Bible. I realized how much the Jewish people had suffered at the hands of one tyrant or another throughout history; I began to see similarities between the wicked Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews and Hitler’s more recent Holocaust of WWII. I wondered if I could superimpose the life and challenges of Esther into this more recent time period. I knew little about WWII or the Holocaust when I began my research, but it soon became an emotional journey as well as a spiritual one. I was shocked to read first-hand accounts of Nazi brutality, yet moved, too, by tales of courage and faith-keeping in those who faced death. And there were so many real-life heroes and heroines who risked all to save others. Needless to say, I felt compelled to try and write their story.
How long did it take you to write For Such A Time and what did your research involve?
The entire research and writing process took me about five years: I studied WWII history in the European theater; the Nazi party, including Himmler’s evil SS; I also pored through personal accounts written by prisoners of the camps, including Dachau, Theresienstadt (Terezin,) and Auschwitz. I read memoirs of German Wehrmacht soldiers who fought from North Africa to Stalingrad, and I also attempted to become knowledgeable in the tenets and traditions of Judaism. At final count, my bibliography stood at close to thirty books, including several documentary videos and substantial online information. It was important to me to treat this horrific period with the sensitivity and accuracy it deserved, while crafting a fictional romance between a Jewess and an SS-officer.
What was a highlight of the research?
Much of my research was emotionally exhausting, but I do recall a story that stands out, written by one of the prisoners: about a former Luftwaffe pilot who, because of an injury, had to earn his living as an SS-guard at the camp of Dachau. He saw the plight of the prisoners and many times would bring from his home in the village food and medicine for them. When the Americans liberated Dachau in 1945, they were shocked to see a crowd of sickly, emaciated prisoners circle the guard protectively, so that he would not be hurt. The humanity in that moment touched me; like a glimmer of light in the darkness I’d been reading. It gave me hope that even amidst such evil, goodness could exist.
Did you travel to the region For Such a Time is set in? If you did, how did that affect you?
While I would like to visit the camps I wrote about, I’ve never been to these places. Instead, I “saw” my story setting through reading, viewing pictures, videos, and other imagery. I know that when I do go, it will affect me deeply!
Who is your favorite character in the book? How did their story impact you personally?
Well, I confess I love them all (except Captain Hermann, of course!) I admire little Joseph, because of his bravery and his child’s willingness to love, yet I think Stella (Hadassah) resonates with me most. Her journey became mine, and as we both struggled with the big question of “Why?” I gained a better understanding into the strengths and weaknesses of my own faith.
What was the main thing you learned from writing For Such a Time?
I learned that unconditional love is the surest weapon against evil; it was how Jesus destroyed death. And while evil may take the body, it cannot take the soul, so long as we hold fast to our heavenly Father.
What would you like readers to take away from the book?
I hope readers will gain better insight into the real events of WWII and Hitler’s reign of terror. It’s also my wish they’re inspired to stand a little more courageously in their daily lives. It only takes one to make a difference!
Where can people find you on the internet?
Either my website: www.katebreslin.com
Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/KateBreslinAuthor
I’m also on Pinterest and Goodreads!
If you like, you can sign up on my website to become a “Kate’s Crusader” and receive information on future events, books, giveaways, and/or blurbs from me. There’s also a contact form, or you can email me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks for being here with us today, Kate!
Here's an excerpt from For Such a Time...
You can purchase For Such a Time at Amazon.