As so many survivors do in their later years, Nina Morecki related her survivor testimony to a high-school English class, and later to a class at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where Waddell heard her. Waddell decided to use the story to illustrate a history of Jews in Poland, before and during the Holocaust, and the postwar period. She became Morecki’s interviewer and a catalyst for the elder woman’s testimony. There ensued a long period of interviewing and friendship between the two.
Nina’s story begins as a child in an upper middle class Polish home and continues to the Nazi occupation, Aktions, family losses, to the ghetto, slave labor camps, in flight and hiding, through unbelievable hardships and suffering, including climbing out of a death pit after escaping execution by the Nazis and wandering dazed through woods. Found by a peasant couple who shelter and care for her, after recuperating she joins the Polish Underground who fit her out with forged I.D. papers and instruct her to find work in the German military postal department, which she does. As the Germans retreat and the Russians advance, she escapes and gets a job, albeit under suspicion, for the Russians!
Would it have been better to have Nina’s story told without Waddell’s interruptions, explanations, and comparisons? The result is somewhat like the commercial that says the actual participant in an accident does not have the capacity to describe the event so an actor was hired to tell it. Waddell should have remained as the interviewer and editor with observations placed as introductory material to each chapter.