In the upstairs rec room of her home on Lake Concord, Florida, USA, Joanie Schirm has spread her father’s life over a leather-sheathed pool table. Curled black-and-white photographs spill from overstuffed envelopes. There’s a stack of home movie canisters, plastic filing boxes with hanging folders of documents, and thick binders with letters written in Czech 70 years ago.
Her father, Oswald Holzer, a Jewish physician, deserted the Czechoslovakian Army in 1939 as Nazi Germany overtook the country and conscripted the army. He ended up in China where, eight days after they met, he married Ruth Alice Lequear on Sept. 20, 1940.
Nearly 60 years later, when Oswald and Ruth died within three days of each other, Schirm and her siblings discovered 534 documents dating back to 1885 and including 392 letters written to her father by 78 different people during World War II.
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