Memories from the Abyss/But I Had A Happy Childhood

Strong, savvy and intelligent, William Tannenzapf never wavers in his determination to survive and save his wife and baby girl from the clutches of evil gripping his hometown of Stanisławów. Blond, blue-eyed and cherubic, Renate Krakauer was a “miracle baby” born as the world descended into war and soon surrounded by misery and death. Starving and enslaved, Tannenzapf entrusts his daughter to a Polish family so that little Renate can live in “childhood oblivion” – yet still under the eyes of her loving parents. Later reunited and thrown into the trials of refugee and immigrant life, Krakauer’s thoughtful observations provide fascinating insight into the perceptions and feelings of a child survivor and offer a poignant counterpoint to Tannenzapf’s adult reflections on the same events. This gripping volume offers the reader the rare opportunity to read survival stories from two members of the same family.

Introduction by Michael Brown

At a Glance
William Tannenzapf:
Forced labour
Postwar Germany, displaced persons camp
Arrived in Canada in 1948
Renate Krakauer:
Hidden child
Postwar Germany, displaced persons camp
Arrived in Canada in 1948
Adjusting to life in Canada

176 pages, including index

Recommended Ages

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Photo of William Tannenzapf

About the author

William Tannenzapf was born in Stanisławów, Poland, in 1911 and his daughter, Renate, was born in March 1941, during the Nazi occupation. The family immigrated to Canada in 1948, first settling in Montreal. William worked at Westinghouse Electric in Hamilton, where he had a successful career as an electrical engineer, inventing technologies and earning several patents. He passed away in 2011.

Photo of Renate Krakauer

About the author

Renate Krakauer was born in 1941 in Stanisławów, Poland (now Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine). She and her family came to Canada in 1948. Renate made her home in Toronto, where she earned a masters and a doctorate and worked in various professions. She has written and published one book, as well as numerous short stories and essays. Renate Krakauer lives in Toronto.

The long shadow of the Holocaust touched my life and even reached into the lives of my children…