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Understanding through fiction

Steven Muenzer’s jewish parents left Germany in 1939. While he knew they had escaped atrocities, Muenzer never really asked them what their life was like.

“They never talked about it. And since they never talked about it, I never asked,” said Muenzer.

Now retired, Muenzer decided to pursue a life-long dream to write a book. Curious about his parents’ experiences in pre-World War II Germany, he started researching and used the information as a jumping off point to write his fictional novel, Farewell Berlin.

Muenzer’s novel tells the story of a young Jewish man, Sonny, who smuggles Jews out of Nazi Germany. The story follows the maturation of a guy who did a little of this, and a little of that into something much bigger. Muenzer said it’s an adventure story that provides real insight into Berlin during the 1930s.

“In writing the book, I found that in many ways novels can tell you more about what people felt than history can,” said Muenzer.

Muenzer didn’t write his parents’ story because he doesn’t know it, but that doing the research provided him with some insight into their lives at the time.

Muenzer knows his parents left Berlin in 1939 on the last boat out of Rotterdam. His father was 29 and mother 26. The couple came to the United States where they were sponsored by a family member. They survived but Muenzer said most of his father’s large family did not. His mother’s family emigrated to Palenstine.

“Their lives under Hitler must have been awful,” said Muenzer.

Recently Muenzer took his research one step farther and travelled to Germany. He said it was interesting to see the places that would have played a major role at the time.

As part of the Author series, Muenzer will share his experiences writing Farewell Berlin and travelling to Germany at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Robert Trail Library. The Rosemount Area Arts Council will sponsor the event.

For more information on Farewell Berlin visit

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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