Today I’m chatting with Arie Tamir, the author of today’s book, ‘I Only Wanted To Live’, which is a poignant memoir from his childhood experiences as a Jewish child during the Holocaust and second world war.
Note: Arie is not a native English speaker and I have left his side of the interview largely unedited, save for the addition of the correct English words in brackets after any words that needed clarification.
Arie, thank you very much for joining me today. I really appreciate the time that you’ve given both myself and the audience. Now your book follows your personal journey through childhood and into your teenage years during the second world war. I can’t begin to imagine the details of the horrors that you experienced at such a young age, and it must have been difficult to review your experiences. What pushed you to write down them down into this book?
Many times after 2nd World War I filled (felt) the desire to tell about my personal experience. After the war I filled (felt) as if the real characters with whom I experienced the six years and they didn’t survive they ask me to write about what happened and to tell their story. It just happened that after so many years I did it.
Can you tell us a bit more about what you’ve chosen to include in the book.
I am not a professional author, I did wrote (write) this book when I was close to 80 years of age. I wrote it according to my memory but I did lot of work, may be around 80% of the writing work, to study the historical facts so everything I wrote will be a historic document as well. These are my memoir of my childhood. I was swept into the whirlwind of the 2nd World War and the Holocaust. The epic history is narrowed down to my struggle to survive the war. My nickname was Leosz. From age 7 to age 13 I endured all the horrors that the Holocaust brought upon the Jewish people. Life hanged (hung) on split-second timing, decisions were made in impossibly cruel circumstances and all these required incredible resourcefulness, luck and the help of others, even Germans. In the Krakow Ghetto, I was saved from three mass deportations to the death camps, escaped the ghetto, survived for several weeks pretending to be a Polish street child, and then went into hiding. Close to death I was finally liberated in (the) concentration camp, Mathausen, by the American army on May 5th, 1945. After the liberation I found that I lost all my family and my relatives, I did overcome the tragedy and until today lived a full happy life with my wife, two kids and five grandchildren. I am 84 years old.
I’m very happy to hear that you’ve lived a very full life after the early experiences in your life. So that the audience can see a bit more about where you life let can you let us know what you did for employment. And did it influence you writing?
I am an engineer, it influenced me that everything I write about will be with accordance with the facts and be (correct). For instance, when I write about a place I give the exact name of the street and the number of the house. To everything I give the real time and so on.
So you were very precise with all of the elements in the book. How long did it take write when you were very considerate of being accurate?
About three years, but most of the work , maybe 80% of the time, was spend on research of the circumstances and the historic facts in which my story took place.
And how did you go about editing to make sure that you’d gotten it right.
I wrote this book in Hebrew. I did myself large amount of editing and got some help of professional editors. This book was translated to English by a professional translator and, unfortunately, it wasn’t edited again. I do hope to do it some time…
I hope that you get a chance to do that too. When you were writing and editing did you spend more time with the people in the story that influenced you the most?
Of course, Just naturally I stood longer with people that were closer to me or were important to the whole picture.
Speaking of pictures, I think that the cover really suits the memoir well. Who designed it?
I designed it myself, but the finish was made by professional.
They did a great job. Overall, what did you find was the most rewarding thing about writing this book?
That many people found the book interesting.
Has the positive feedback enticed you to maybe start on an additional book to extend on this memoir?
As I told in the beginning I am not a professional writer, I wrote these memoir when I was close to 80 years old, so may be I would continue my memoir from the point I finished.
I think that many readers would appreciate that, so I hope that you look into continuing. Now we’re onto the Quick Fire Round to round out the interview on a lighter note. Just respond with what you first think of:
Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
What my father told me when I was about 8 years old: Be always honest, don’t lie, never, don’t steal, don’t do bad things to your friends and to anyone.
That’s great advice. How did you feel when you got your first book review?
Can you stand on your hands unassisted?
If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
Do you have any tips for self-publishing for other authors?
Just dare, study it and get help from experienced authors.
Which are cooler? Dinosaurs or Dragons?
What is your best tip for authors?
Believe in your writing
What is your favourite word?
That’s my favourite response to that question so far. Thank you very much for joining me today Arie, and I hope that that you are able to bring your story to many new readers so that we all have a much greater understanding of what went on during World War Two, so that it isn’t repeated in the future.
If you would like to get in contact with Arie, please drop me a line in the contact form.