Lake Placid In his new book, “Reports from a Distant Place,” Frank Shatz shares stories about escaping Nazi-held Hungary and Communist-held Czechoslovakia and finding freedom and peace in Lake Placid.
The book is a hand-selected compilation of Shatz’s “World Focus” columns from the The Virginia Gazette. The columns are organized in three parts: “Under the Swastika,” “Under the Red Star,” and “In America.” The pieces he chose for this book tell the story of survival.
For 40 years, Shatz refused to speak of the Holocaust but chose to do so in the mid-1980s for several reasons. One reason was to make sure people never forget. Another was to show people that the word “Holocaust” can mean different things to different people.
“To me, the word Holocaust is a mosaic that encompasses hundreds of flashes of memory, all of them related to survival during the Holocaust but outside of the concentration camps,” Shatz wrote. “I felt a need to demonstrate the complexity of life under a murderous regime and system and show how it affected people on the run.”
Shatz was born in 1926 in Parkan, Czechoslovakia, a port city on the Danube River now called Sturovo in the republic of Slovakia. His journey to Lake Placid was far from easy. It was filled with danger, near-death experiences and the anxiety of living through the Holocaust during World War II and behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. Shatz wasn’t sure he’d make it past the age of 18, never mind reach his 80s.
Under the Swastika
Hardship began for Shatz and his Jewish family after the Munich Pact was signed by Germany’s Adolf Hitler and leaders of the United Kingdom, Italy and France in September 1938. As a result of the repartitioning of Czechoslovakia, Hungary occupied one-third of Slovakia in November 1938, including Parkan.