Letchworth resident launches book on life in a World War II labour camp
AN AUTHOR who shares her name with a global movie icon will be signing copies of her first book, based on a true account of life in a World War II labour camp.
Elizabeth Taylor, whose parents originated from Poland and moved to England directly after the war had ended in 1945, has used her translating skills as a bi-linguist in both languages to tell the story of a family who were deported from Poland at the start of the war to Russian labour camps.
The Letchworth GC resident, who also lived in Hitchin for 45 years until 2002, will be launching Next Stop Siberia at Garden City Gallery in Letchworth GC on Saturday.
Speaking about why she decided to write the book, the 59-year-old, who has worked as a qualified freelance interpreter, said: “This is ‘the’ book I have been planning most of my life at the request of my parents who died in the 1980s.
“I did not know where to start the story until I went back to my parents’ village for the first time in 2009, which is now Ukraine and not Poland after the post-war border changes. It was in the city of Lwow that I found all the inspiration I needed to produce this publication.
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“Having listened to the wartime accounts of family and friends, who endured unimaginable horrors of Stalin’s gulag camps, I decided to write a book as a tribute to the minority who survived and a testament to the majority who perished whilst prisoners in Siberia.
“This true story is based on the testament and experience of a family who, having been caught up in the outbreak of World War II in Poland, were deported by the Soviets to the frozen wastelands of the Siberian gulag labour camps where they endured unimaginable danger, abuse and deprivation.
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“This was the holocaust perpetrated by Russia, unpublicised and forgotten. The family suffered with courage and determination, using their initiative and resourcefulness to cope with all the obstacles and challenges which they faced to merely exist and survive on a daily basis.”
The story also has a Hitchin connection, as the family lived and worked in the town for more than 30 years until the end of their lives.
Mrs Taylor will be signing copies of her book at the gallery above Burrs Shoes in Leys Avenue from 10am. Next Stop Siberia is also available to buy from Amazon, WH Smith and Waterstones.