Memories from the Abyss / But I Had a Happy Childhood

Memories from the Abyss / But I Had a Happy Childhood


By Renate Krakauer & William Tannenzapf

William Tannenzapf never wavers in his determination to survive and save his wife and baby girl from the evil gripping his hometown of Stanisławów. Blond, cherubic, Renate Krakauer was a “miracle baby”, born as the world descended into war and soon surrounded by misery and death. Starving and enslaved, Tannenzapf entrusts his daughter to a Polish family so that little Renate can live in “childhood oblivion”—yet still under the eyes of her loving parents. Later reunited and thrown into the trials of refugee and immigrant life, Krakauer’s thoughtful observations provide fascinating insight into the perceptions of a child survivor and offer a poignant counterpoint to Tannenzapf’s adult reflections on the same events. This gripping volume offers the reader the rare opportunity to read survival stories from two members of the same family.

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About the Author

William Tannenzapf was born in Stanisławów, Poland in 1911 and his daughter, Renate, was born in the midst of occupation in March 1941. After the war, the family made their way to a Displaced Persons camp in Germany before they immigrated to Canada in 1948. The Tannenzapfs first lived in Montreal and then moved to Hamilton, where William Tannenzapf worked for the Westinghouse Electric Company, inventing several new technologies.

Renate Krakauer obtained a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy, a Masters of Environmental Studies, and a doctorate in education. She has worked in the fields of pharmacy, education, and human resources, and was president and CEO of the Michener Institute of Applied Health Sciences. She lives in Toronto with her husband and has written and published numerous short stories and essays.

Product Information

  • Release: June 1, 2009
  • $14.95 Paperback
  • 176 Pages
  • 6 x 9
  • ISBN: 9781897470060

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The Azrieli Series of Holocaust Survivor Memoirs

Since the end of World War II, over 30,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors have immigrated to Canada. Who they are, where they came from, what they experienced and how they built new lives for themselves and their families is an important part of our Canadian heritage. The Azrieli Series of Holocaust Survivor Memoirs is guided by the conviction that each survivor of the Holocaust has a remarkable story to tell, and that such stories play an important role in education about tolerance and diversity. Millions of individual stories are lost to us forever. By preserving the stories written by survivors and making them widely available to a broad audience, the Holocaust Survivor Memoirs series seeks to sustain the memory of all those who perished at the hands of hatred, abetted by indifference and apathy. The personal accounts of those who survived against all odds are as different as the people who wrote them, but all demonstrate the courage, strength, wit and luck that it took to prevail and survive in such terrible adversity. The memoirs are also moving tributes to people – strangers and friends – who risked their lives to help others, and who, through acts of kindness and decency in the darkest of moments, frequently helped the persecuted maintain faith in humanity and courage to endure. These accounts offer inspiration to all, as does the survivors’ desire to share their experiences so that new generations can learn from them. Recognizing that most survivor memoirs never find a publisher, the Azrieli Foundation established the Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program to collect, archive and publish these distinctive records.