Dean Laux, who writes a bi-monthly column for the Boca Beacon titled “Remembrances,” has just completed a new book that was almost two years in the making: the true story of Werner Meudt, a German of Jewish heritage, whose “remembrances” are vastly different from those of his American counterparts in the so-called “Greatest Generation.”
Werner spent the first 22 years of his life escaping: as a child, escaping the clutches of the Nazis, even as he served in the Hitler Youth movement … as a young boy, escaping injury and death during the saturation bombings of his native Koblenz by the Allies … at age 10, having lost several relatives to the Nazi death camps, escaping deportation himself by a desperate, last-minute ride to a forested sanctuary in Thuringia.
As a teen, Werner escaped the oncoming Russian army in Thuringia, only to return to a bombed-out city where he fought poverty and starvation in the runaway inflation years of the late 1940s.
He finally escaped to America, arriving in New York City penniless, knowing not a word of English, with no home and no job prospects. But a chance encounter aboard a subway train altered his life completely. His is a gripping story of survival, serendipity and success.
Werner and Dean, who writes under the pen name D. Merrill Laux, are of the same generation, volunteer at the same hospital (Venice Regional/Bayfront Health) and are personal friends.
“We first met at the hospital, when someone suggested to me that I do a short piece in our News Quarterly on Werner as an outstanding volunteer,” Dean said. “We hadn’t talked about Werner’s background for more than two or three minutes when I said, ‘I can’t do justice to your experience in just a few paragraphs. You ought to do a book.’ Werner said, ‘Yes! Exactly! I’ve been trying for a long time to find an author I could work with.’ So we teamed up: I’m the author, he’s the hero.”
The book is the result of months of detailed, painstaking reviews of Werner’s life and the many documents that he retained from his past, coupled with extensive research on the events he lived through.
Said Dean, “I lived and worked in Germany not long after the war, I speak German, and I have studied the prewar and war years extensively. So this was a labor of love. And Werner is a remarkable man. It’s a great privilege to write about him.”
Early reviews indicate that readers may feel the same way. Joseph Talmage wrote: “I enjoyed every page of it.”
Bruce Monroe said, “It’s a must read for those who care about human life and dignity. The book makes one realize that we cannot take our freedom for granted.”
The book, “From Hell to Heaven,” is now out in paperback at $15, and Dean is working on a Kindle version that should be available through Amazon before the end of the year.
You can order a copy by emailing Dean at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the Beacon office, say hello to the author, and pick up a copy at 431 Park Avenue.