On Burning Wings: To a Displaced Persons Camp and Beyond
Kesler, Michael G.
Throughout the ordeal, Michael Kesler seems to have made all the right choices. Yet as his compelling memoir shows, even the best choices were often accompanied by a deep sense of shame and guilt.
From the Foreword by Professor Glenn Dynner, Sarah Lawrence College
This moving memoir, beautifully told, recounts the author’s return – physical and spiritual – from the hell of war and genocide to a life resurrected and remade. It is also an important reminder of the fate of over 200,000 Jews who fled to the Soviet Union during the war, as well as of their difficult, often harrowing way back.
Omer Bartov, John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History, Brown University
I was really taken with many portions of this book that were extraordinarily affecting emotionally. I think specifically of the author’s return to Dubno at the end of the war and seeing the destruction of the Jewish community and the fate of his parents. What also impressed me were the successful life experiences of the Holocaust survivors in the US, Michael Kesler’s especially.
Manus Midlarsky, Moses & Annuta Back Professor of International Peace and Conflict Resolution, Rutgers University
This book provides a poignant account of Michael Kesler's survival, perseverance, and pursuit of a brighter future as World War II ended in Europe and the early years of its aftermath. Historical commentaries provide insightful contexts for the story Michael Kesler tells.
Ted Kesler, Ed.D., Associate Professor, Queens College, CUNY
Michael and his sister fled their home in Dubno, Poland, as panicked teenagers in June 1941, and landed in the Soviet Union amid the raging war. A flashback catches them in Stalingrad, besieged by the Germans. A stroke of luck landed them in Uzbekistan where Michael excelled as a veterinary assistant. Two years later, the Soviet Army drafted Michael and trained him to remove mines planted by retreating Germans. After a dogged search, his sister found him and persuaded him to desert. An overnight train took them to Samarkand where they set up shop as weavers and Michael studied Economics at night.
At war’s end, they hastened home and witnessed the mass graves of Dubno’s 8,000 Jews, including their parents. Threatened, they found Moniek’s mother and cousins and headed to a Displaced Persons camp in Germany. Britain dashed Michael’s hopes to go to Palestine. A year later, Hillel surprisingly awarded him a scholarship to Colby College, where he arrived in 1947. He transferred to MIT and began to build a new life.
Paperback 168 pages, 20 b/w illus