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THROUGH THE PANE: Of darkness and light

Posted on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Dear Children:

You have heard about various wars in your lifetime, and I’ve told of the biggest one in which

Weldon Payne

By Weldon Payne

my brother flew B-24’s over Germany and how we all knew about Pearl Harbor, rationing, and about the loss of many American lives.

Now I want to share a few things from Clara Orban’s novel, Terra Firma, published by Florida Academic Press, in which she reaches deep  into her family’s long history, their survival of bombings, scarcity of food, sufferings under fascist dictators, and eventual tasting  freedom in America.

There’s little room here for delving into wars and Hungarian occupations long  before World War I or doing justice to  loyal Italian families and their suffering in WWII, or to an Italian girl’s love for and co-existence with a Jewish husband and the bonding of these families.  Billed as fiction – as a novel of “Love, Loss and Family” — my  objective is to give you a glimpse of  war’s horrors in a land far from the America we know.  It is so easy and so common to glorify war, surely Orban’s complicated book depicting untold human suffering, is worth sharing. It also is about family tradition, devotion, and respect  – humans struggling, surviving allied bombing, eating meat carved from dead horses, relentlessly dodging ruling fascist regimes, fighting hunger, lack of clothes and worn-out shoes,  always dodging, hiding, ever alert against enemies threatening their lives.

In great detail, Orban traces historic atrocities in Hungary long before either world war. Within the book’s 262 pages one reads of the Soviet domination, of Hitler’s evil, inhumane attempt to conquer the world – of rape of daughters and their mothers. The author traces Mussolina’s trampling of basic freedoms from his founding of the fascist party in 1919 to his partnership with Hitler in WWII.

Why share this “fiction” with you, Dear Children?  Because it is more fact than make-believe. Yes, innocent citizens suffered from allied bombing in the fiendish war as Hitler sought to annihilate Gypsies, intellectuals, Jews, homosexuals and to rule the world with his fictitious “superior race.”  But Orban tells the “rest of the story” recounting the United States’ generous post-war restoration of battered nations, friends and foes. Truth, not fiction; the United States was indeed the “light of the world” after the hard-fought WWII..

In this book, a young Italian woman and her Jewish husband, leave their beloved homelands to settle in these United States – as humans have been doing since English men and women long ago came seeking religious freedom. Make no mistake, dear ones, our beloved nation is still the “light of the world” however much we may hear otherwise, and yes, we indeed  need your help.  This is truth, not fiction.    — Love, Poppy