A Dialogue with Kathy Kacer

Published: April 8th 2010
in Culture » Books

Author Kathy Kacer
Pic: www.KathyKacer.com
Book cover: Restiti\ution
Pic: Second Story Press

Kathy Kacer has won multiple awards for her children's books, several of them in Second Story Press' Holocaust Remembrance Series for Young Readers. In 2009, Hiding Edith won the prestigious Yad Vashem Prize for Children's Holocaust Literature. Herself a child of Holocaust survivors, Kacer travels around the world speaking to young people about the importance of understanding the Holocaust.


In Restitution, Kacer tells the story of the Reeser family's quest to retrieve paintings they had to leave behind when fleeing Czechoslovakia at the eve of World War II. This true story is told in compelling detail, fleshed out with the Reeser family's pictures and documents. Karl Reeser, now in his 80s, still lives in Toronto where he proudly displays two of the paintings, while the other two are in the Toronto home of his sister Hana. The paintings are a reminder of what was lost in the Holocaust, but also what endured - the strength and determination of their family.


Shalom Life spoke with Kathy Kacer about her latest book.




How did this fascinating story come to you?


Karl Reeser, who is the subject of this book, happens to be the father-in-law of one of my husband’s law partners, a woman named Elizabeth Forster. Some years ago, Elizabeth gave her father-in-law a copy of my first book for young readers – The Secret of Gabi’s Dresser. She thought he would relate to this story set in the country of his birth. Karl read my book and contacted me to tell me that he also had a personal story of four paintings that had been acquired in the former Czechoslovakia before the Second World War, lost for decades, and then re-claimed years later. I was enthralled and knew I had to eventually write that book!


What was it about this particular story that compelled you to write about it?


I never quite know what it is that compells me to pursue a particular story. I call it my “Holocaust radar.” Something about this story touched me in that way. I think it was the miracle of this family property, thought lost, that resurfaced after so many years. I think it was also the determination on the part of Marie Reeser (Karl’s mother) and then Karl himself to reclaim what was rightfully theirs. The fact that there were such interesting “characters” involved in the story – a daring Canadian diplomat, and an “honest” smuggler – certainly added to the sense of adventure and intrigue here. Put it all together, and the story was indeed compelling.


Has any member of the Reeser family read the book? If so, what was their reaction?


Karl Reeser has been actively involved in reading several versions of the manuscript. He loves it, and told me that he was particularly moved by the depiction of his mother. She was a remarkable and courageous woman, a woman of great insight and massive determination.  Karl was so happy to see her honoured in this story.


As a child of Holocaust survivors one would automatically assume that this has informed your writing (not to mention that most of your books' central theme is about the Holocaust). Can you talk about where the inspiration lies for your advocacy in this area…to keep these stories alive?


Related articles: (Books, Holocaust, Kathy Kacer)

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