Dana and Yvona Fast hold the English and Polish version of Dana’s memoirs.
Lake Clear writer to share experience in Warsaw Ghetto and survival through Nazi occupied Poland in her newly released memoir, “My Nine Lives.”
Dana Fast released her book Jan. 6 as a tribute and a legacy to her family and others to never forget the terrible tragedies and lives lost in the Holocaust in Europe during World War II.
Fast’s memoir follows her life story from when she was a little girl after Germans invaded Poland, her time in the Warsaw Ghetto, her escape from the ghetto, her life in hiding, and into her return to Poland as an adult.
Born in March 1931, Fast’s comfortable life was changed forever as Germans moved into Poland in September 1939 and later sent her family into the Warsaw Ghetto. The memories, of which she kept from her daughter and friends for many years, she now shares in her memoir so others will never forget.
“Here in America, the Holocaust is a part of history, but in Poland and in Europe it is closer to the skin,” Fast said.
Fast recently released her book in its English version at a party at the Left Bank Café in Saranac Lake. She is well known in the Lake Clear/Saranac Lake community for her master gardening skills.
The stories of her time in Nazi-occupied Poland were memories Fast said she originally didn’t want to remember. In the book, however, she has recounted her life for the sake of her relatives, children, and her brother, who was only 3 years old during their time in the Warsaw Ghetto. This is her legacy to the family.
“When I started this, it didn’t start as a book,” Fast said. “My friends and family wanted me to write what happened, and so I wrote small bits at a time.”
Her memoir was a 20-year labor of love that started merely as stories she would type here and there and her daughter, Yvona Fast, would edit.
Yvona said that throughout her childhood her mother would not talk about her experiences during the war. Through her mother’s book, Yvona said she can see her mother as a young girl and understand how difficult it must have been for her being unable to have a childhood.
“When you read her book you can see how much she grew up from the time she was 8 years old to when she was 14 years old,“ Yvona said.
Friends in Poland encouraged her to write because her experiences should be written before those who experienced it are gone.
“In a few more years, the people who were there will be gone,” Dana said. “If these things aren’t written now, they will die, too, and this terrible tragedy should never be forgotten.”
The book has been described as containing every emotion — from crying to laughter — from readers of the Polish version of her memoir that was released in 2010 titled, “A Jednak Sa Dobrzy Ludzie,” translated, “There are good people everywhere.” Dana hopes readers will take from her book that she and her brother couldn’t have survived without the help of those who put their lives on the line to help them.
“People can surprise you. Those who helped us could have been punished by death and yet they still did it,” Dana said. “In the worst of times you can find people who are absolutely caring and have the potential to help.”
The world has seen many tragic holocausts since the extermination of approximately 6 million Jewish men, women and children between 1933 to 1945.
“We can’t forget these things,” Dana said. “People think this was the last holocaust, but what about the genocide in Dar Fur or Rwanda? I would like to say never again, but it’s not like that.”
Dana left Poland when she was 31 years old. She traveled many places and eventually settled in the Adirondack Park almost 40 years ago. She said the Adirondacks will be the place she will spend the rest of her days.
Copies of Dana’s book are on sale at the Community Store in Saranac Lake and other local venues. For more information, call 891-3827 or e-mail Yvona at firstname.lastname@example.org.