Wednesday, May 16, 2018

600 Days in Hiding by Andreas Algava



600 DAYS IN HIDING by Andreas Algava, Memoir/Historical Nonfiction, 424 pp., $14.95 (Paperback)


Title: 600 DAYS IN HIDING

Author:
Andreas Algava with Daniel Levine

Publisher:
For Passion Publishing Company, LLC

Pages:
424

Genre:
Memoir



The Nazis invaded Salonika, Greece in April 1941. Within two years,
the city’s Jews were shipped by cattle cars to the Auschwitz death camp.
There were just three families who stayed in the city and survived
because of the courage and kindness of Greek citizens who risked their
lives and hid these Jewish families in their homes. Among the survivors
were Andrew “Andreas” Algava, who was three years old at the time, and
his family. They were five of 56,000 Jews who had lived in Salonika.




Algava, who moved to the United States at the age of seven, has
written a gripping account of his family’s experience of survival titled
600 DAYS IN HIDING (600DaysInHiding.com). His memoir stands beside such classics of Holocaust literature as THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, Elie Wiesel’s NIGHT, Primo Levi’s SURVIVAL IN AUSCHWITZ, and Nechama Tec’s DEFIANCE.




Two excerpts from 600 DAYS IN HIDING dramatically illustrate Algava’s intention to “communicate the humanity or inhumanity of how we choose to respond to each other.” The first scene takes place in a graveyard:




“Henri stood at the edge of the massive Jewish cemetery sprawling
before him. The crypts and headstones extended for thousands of meters
in all directions, a vast city of gravestones marking the remains of
Jewish men, women, and children buried here during the past 450 years.
At one end of the enormous cemetery a small army of several hundred
Greek workers were busy with shovels and pickaxes, tearing up the
gravesites, pillaging for treasure. Henri watched with a mix of
astonishment and horror as Thessaloniki’s Jewish history was being
destroyed before his eyes, forever.”





The second excerpt describes the family’s first perilous night as they go into hiding from the Nazis:




“Marcos looked at Allegra. ‘I think the most danger we will face tonight will be from Andreas.’


 ‘What do you mean?’ Allegra asked, taking a short breath.




‘We agreed he should come with me so if you are caught, he will
have his freedom. Is he prepared to play the game we talked about? Being
quiet and not paying attention to you?’





‘I think so,’ Allegra replied. ‘He’s old enough.’ Marcos looked at the sleeping child and knew their fate rested with him.




…‘Remember,’ whispered Marcos, as they were about to open the
apartment’s door, ‘stay in three separate groups. We’ll gather at the
trolley stop on
Martiou Street. When you’re out of the
ghetto, tear off the stars and put them in your pocket. We’ll get off
at Saint Sophie as planned. Whatever happens, just stay calm. We’ll be
all right.’ He looked at each of them, and made his face relax with a
little smile to reassure them. ‘They look ready,’ he thought.





…A knock on the door and a thin narrow face greeted them quietly.
Quickly the six travelers entered. Allegra saw it was a small room in a
poor house with a dirt floor. …‘Welcome, welcome,’ said Pachis. ‘It
isn’t much, but we can shelter you. Your room is over here,’ and he
walked to a room with a curtain as its door. ‘We have some blankets you
can use,’ Pachis said, indicating a small pile of old wool blankets. 





…‘Good night,’ said Marcos. ‘You’ll be safe here, for a while at least.’




‘Thank you, Marcos,’ Allegra said. ‘We are grateful.’




‘I’m glad to help.’ Turning to go, he said softly, ‘I’ll return
tomorrow with a few of the things you said you wanted. It may take a few
trips, but I’ll get them here. Get some sleep,’ and he stepped through
the open doorway, drawing the drape across the opening.





Quickly setting up a sleeping area, soon everyone had settled
down. Henri took his place beside Allegra and his son, and though he was
very tired and drained, he stayed awake, still edgy. Eventually the
sounds of slumber lulled him to sleep as the night yielded to the dawn
of their first day in hiding.”





600 DAYS in HIDING is well-positioned for adaptation as a
film. Such a production would provide a powerful thematic counterpoint
to news stories about current political upheaval and the drumbeat of
dehumanization in the United States and throughout the world.




Algava also notes that he is writing a sequel to 600 DAYS IN HIDING
that will address “how as individuals and as society we came to be.” He
adds that writing his inspiring story “absolutely energizes me. It’s
the fulfillment of a dream.”


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Marcos looked at Allegra. ‘I think the
most danger we will face tonight will be from Andreas.’
 ‘What do you mean?’ Allegra asked, taking a
short breath.
‘We agreed he should come with me so if
you are caught, he will have his freedom. Is he prepared to play the game we
talked about? Being quiet and not paying attention to you?’
‘I think so,’ Allegra replied. ‘He’s old
enough.’ Marcos looked at the sleeping child and knew their fate rested with
him.
…‘Remember,’ whispered Marcos, as they
were about to open the apartment’s door, ‘stay in three separate groups. We’ll
gather at the trolley stop on Martiou Street. When you’re out of the ghetto,
tear off the stars and put them in your pocket. We’ll get off at Saint Sophie
as planned. Whatever happens, just stay calm. We’ll be all right.’ He looked at
each of them, and made his face relax with a little smile to reassure them.
‘They look ready,’ he thought.

...A knock on the door and a thin narrow
face greeted them quietly. Quickly the six travelers entered. Allegra saw it
was a small room in a poor house with a dirt floor. …‘Welcome, welcome,’ said
Pachis. ‘It isn’t much, but we can shelter you. Your room is over here,’ and he
walked to a room with a curtain as its door. ‘We have some blankets you can
use,’ Pachis said, indicating a small pile of old wool blankets.
…‘Good night,’ said Marcos. ‘You’ll be
safe here, for a while at least.’
‘Thank you, Marcos,’ Allegra said. ‘We are
grateful.’
‘I’m glad to help.’ Turning to go, he said
softly, ‘I’ll return tomorrow with a few of the things you said you wanted. It
may take a few trips, but I’ll get them here. Get some sleep,’ and he stepped
through the open doorway, drawing the drape across the opening.
Quickly setting up a sleeping area, soon everyone had
settled down. Henri took his place beside Allegra and his son, and though he
was very tired and drained, he stayed awake, still edgy. Eventually the sounds
of slumber lulled him to sleep as the night yielded to the dawn of their first
day in hiding.





Andreas Algava was born in Thessaloniki, Greece in
1939, the only son of Henri Algava and Allegra Carasso-Algava. When
Andreas was 16 months old, Hitler’s forces invaded the country of his
birth. Having to decide whether to believe the Nazi propaganda about a
safe haven for Jews in Poland or go into hiding and risk execution,
Andreas’s parents chose the latter relying on the courage and character
of their Christian friends.




After the war, the Algava family moved to New York City and became
U.S. citizens. Andreas became known as Andrew who later attended Cornell
University where he earned an engineering degree. This was followed by
military service in the U. S. Army including a tour of duty in France.
After military service, Andrew worked with his father in the family
export business in the United States and Argentina.




He joined IBM and worked on assignment in Germany where he lived with
his wife, Priscilla and where his two daughters, Alisa and Carin were
born. Andreas now lives in Rhode Island to be close to his daughters,
son-in-law Michael and grandchildren Drew and Sabria.




Algava wrote 600 Days in Hiding: A Jewish Family in Nazi-Occupied Thessaloniki Greece
to tell the story of his family’s survival during the Greek Holocaust.
Andreas regards his book as his declaration for people to live in peace
and harmony and a warning to not repeat the horrors of the past.




“Writing my Family’s story energizes me; it’s a fulfillment of a dream.” He plans to write a sequel to 600 Days in Hiding to address “How as individuals and society we are making very bad choices and need to take appropriate actions.”




The author is available for media interviews and speaking engagements
in hopes of inspiring others to take action to create a more just
world.




The author is committed to his personal mission: “To empower myself
and others to manifest generosity, kindness, forgiveness and compassion
for myself and for others to relieve the suffering in the world.”





WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Interview with Andreas Algava:


How did you come up with name of this book?


My parents, my father’s parents and I were in hiding from the Nazis for 600 days in Thessaloniki, Greece. There is a reference in the book in my father’s hand calculating the the number of days each month until liberation. For me, given the probabilities of being caught 600 Days in Hiding is a long period of time.


Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?


Yes, practices in spirituality mostly based on Zen Buddhism.


Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?


I prefer total quiet, so I don’t lose my train of thought.


What do you feel you can accomplish with this book?


To make a difference in people’s lives by helping to make them aware of the  horrors that have happened in the past and that continue to occur today.


What is your next project?


My next project is to write a sequel which describes how my experience has  determined who I have come to be.

 

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