Searching for Lottie draws from the wartime experiences of Susan’s family whose lives were forever changed by the Holocaust.
Charlotte Kulka (called Lotte -- in English, "Lottie") was my mother's teenage cousin. She lived in Prague with her father, a doctor. Her mother passed away when she was little. Tragically, Charlotte and her father both perished, but her beloved aunt, my Cousin Vally Szemere, survived with false papers in Budapest. Vally boarded with a Catholic family who protected her and they became lifelong friends. My middle name was given in Lotte's memory.
Magda Szemere was a famous young violin soloist in Europe before she, too, was arrested and forever disappeared. In doing the research for this book, I discovered to my astonishment that her music had been preserved on gramophone recordings and remains available in music archives.
My mother's cousin, Magda Krizan, survived the war posing as a model and nanny in Hungary -- and was a member of the resistance.
My mother, Erika Lencz, escaped Vienna in 1938 with her brother, Erwin. She was twenty years old. My grandparents and nearly all of the rest of her family were lost. Mom worked in a pillow factory in Brooklyn and as a nanny before settling down in Maine with my father, where she ran our family wedding gown shop and had five children.