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Guest Post from Allen Malnak – Hitler’s Silver Box

Posted by mcm0704 on March 14, 2012 |
Please help me welcome Dr. Allen Malnak to It’s Not All Gravy as he shares some background on how he came to write the novel,   Hitler’s Silver Box

After retiring from the teaching and practicing of internal medicine, my wife and I moved from the Chicago area to Florida. I found an adult education course in writing fiction. The teacher was Hollis Alpert a well known novelist, biographer, short story editor as well as a movie critic.

I took classes with Hollis for a couple of years. He would give us assignments, often listing several subjects that we should use as the basis of a short story. He would critique each story and at the next weekly session read some of them to the class.

One topic I picked was titled “A Silver Box.” Perhaps because my father’s entire Lithuanian family had been murdered by the Nazis, I decided to write it about a concentration camp prisoner at the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp who was forced by a Nazi colonel to make a silver box, which would be a birthday present for Adolph Hitler.

After reading the story in class, Hollis suggested that this story could be expanded into a novel, and that started the process that eventually lead to Hitler’s Silver Box-A Novel.

My initial inclination was to limit the book to Max Bloomberg, the silversmith’s experiences in the camp, but perhaps because of my hospital emergency room experiences decided to change the protagonist to Bruce, his nephew and the chief ER physician at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital. Max’s experience is presented in the book as Max Bloomberg’s journal, and the novel revolves around a search by Bruce and Miriam, an aggressive, attractive Israeli woman for the silver box and it’s world-changing contents. The two are pursued by Nazi fanatics willing to commit most any criminal act to find the contents of the box and use it to restore Nazis to power. Bruce has difficulty crossing over from a healer to a person who must use violence—fortunately for him, Miriam has both the knowledge as well as the ability to handle violent situations when necessary.

While Hitler’s Silver Box is a work of fiction, it’s loosely based on the fact that during the Second World War, Nazi scientists worked up to the war’s end on a multitude of secret weapons on which Hitler pinned his hopes for a last ditch victory. These weapon systems ranged from very long range rockets that could be fired from underground bases to alternative physics, robotic warriors, new energy sources, radical germ warfare and of course, nuclear weapons. In the novel, the facts were modified to suggest that many objects which were later called UFOs were also developed by Nazi scientists in concealed locations, and various secret laboratories were set up around the world including in areas of both Arctic and Antarctic wastes where explorers had never trekked.

Hitler’s Silver Box further develops this to suggest that as Allied Armies closed in on Germany from east and west, it became apparent to his top generals that the war would be lost. With Hitler’s reluctant approval, a group of high ranking Nazi officials decided it would be prudent to plan for a Fourth Reich. This would require keeping these scientists funded and working for many years. All knowledge about them including their exact locations as well as their discoveries would have to be kept secret until the time was right.

Thus the vital importance of the sole document containing this information placed inside the silver box made specially for Hitler. The box was taken by Max from the Nazis in 1945 and hidden in a forest in what is now the Czech Republic.

Writing the novel required considerable research. Having worked during my training and military service in a number of emergency rooms as well as having been medical director of a large ER department in Chicago’s Mount Sinai Hospital, I was familiar with that aspect of the story. I studied articles and books on life in the Theresienstadt concentration camp and had to learn a great deal about silversmithing.

For many years my writing experience had been limited to the type of technical material needed for my medical profession. I soon learned that writing fiction required learning new techniques.

Dialogue and careful descriptions were difficult crafts to understand and learn, but the hardest part of writing the novel was describing the conditions that Max went through in the concentration camp. His use of the “particular” silver, the provenance of which nearly drove him mad, perhaps had a similar effect on me. Needless to say, while Theresienstadt was technically not a death camp, the victims were starved, beaten and subject to many diseases. Writing Max’s journal thus brought forth thoughts about the suffering my own family must have gone through.

The dramatic ER scenes were easier because they were based on my personal experiences. Since like Bruce in the novel, I also have claustrophobia in tunnels, writing that scene caused me some discomfort.

It’s been over 65 years since the Holocaust ended, but the long lasting effects will never fade. There are survivors and relatives of victims in many communities. Now, most people who pick up a copy of Hitler’s Silver Box will do so because it’s a historical thriller with all the mystery, suspense, action, even romance that good thrillers are noted for.

But to the discerning reader, there’s a much deeper meaning that became evident to me recently in reading online comments in a local newspaper’s internet website. Two anonymous neo-Nazis constantly spewed their racist, anti-Semitic, Holocaust denying rants, bragging about their continued worship of Adolph Hitler and their admiration for the murderous Waffen SS soldiers.

Yes, despite what the world knows about the horrors of Nazi Germany, there are in innumerable communities of our great country, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and Ku Klux Klan members, all hoping to finish what Hitler couldn’t.

Actually, I had put the novel aside, only deciding to finish it after reading these nasty comments.

Perhaps Hitler’s Silver Box will throw a little more light on how devoted to evil these types are.

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