I was recently introduced to Dr. Allen Malnak, author of HITLER'S SILVER BOX, by my good friend and former MB4 guest blogger, Mayra Calvani. After reading a bit about Dr. Malnak's history, I became fascinated by the story behind his book. I asked him to write this piece for us, which contains profound truths about the horror of Hitler's days.
Thank you, Dr. Malnak, for writing this article, and God bless the memory of your father and his family who died at Hitler's hands in one of the Nazi death camps.
Aaron Paul Lazar
Inside Hitler's Silver Box
copyright Dr. Allen Malnak, 2012
When my father came to America in 1906 at age 16, he had only one distant relative in this country. He left behind in Kovno, Lithuania a large family, including his parents, eight brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles. They ranged in age from the elderly to babies.
Dad died of natural causes during the Second World War and immediately following the war, my late brother Lewis and I began to try to track down our father’s European family. I was just 16 when the war ended. We wrote letters to everyone we could think of and after about a year received a detailed reply from the International Red Cross. Nazi records as well as witness reports indicated that all members of dad’s family had been murdered either in or near Kovno or after transfer to a death camp. Every man, woman and child!
So, one entire side of my family was destroyed by the Nazis. Of course, I became interested in the Holocaust and began reading articles about it even during my high school and college years. During my internship at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital, I read a short book DOCTORS OF INFAMY, which covered many horrendous medical experiments performed on concentration camp prisoners by Nazi physicians. The book was so disturbing that after reading it, I tossed it into a garbage can. My next book on the subject was Elie Weisel’s NIGHT. I then became occupied with my professional career as well as with my growing family for many years. When I reached the age of forty, I decided I owed it to my dead family members to engage in a real study of that terrible time. I then spent perhaps two or three years of my limited free time reading every book I could find on the Holocaust.
Years later, I retired from the practice and teaching of internal medicine, and my wife and I moved to Bonita Springs Florida. I noticed in the Naples Daily News an article describing a course in writing fiction being held at the Naples Philharmonic. The teacher was Hollis Alpert a well known novelist, biographer, short story editor as well as a movie critic.
I took classes with Hollis for a couple of years. He would give us assignments, often listing several subjects that we should use as the basis of a short story. He would critique each story and at the next weekly session read some of them to the class.
One topic I picked was titled “A Silver Box.” For some reason, I decided to write it about a concentration camp prisoner at the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp who was forced by a Nazi colonel to make a silver box which would be a present for Adolph Hitler.
After reading the story in class, Hollis suggested that this story could be expanded into a novel, and that started the process that eventually lead to HITLER’S SILVER BOX-A NOVEL.
While HITLER’S SILVER BOX is a work of fiction, it’s loosely based on the fact that during the Second World War, Nazi scientists worked up to the war’s end on a multitude of secret weapons on which Hitler pinned his hopes for a last ditch victory.
These weapon systems ranged from very long range rockets that could be fired from underground bases to alternative physics, robotic warriors, new energy sources, radical germ warfare and of course, nuclear weapons.
In the novel, the facts were modified to suggest that many objects which were later called UFOs were also developed by Nazi scientists in concealed locations, and various secret laboratories were set up around the world including in areas of both Arctic and Antarctic wastes where explorers had never trekked.
HITLER’S SILVER BOX further develops this to suggest that as Allied Armies closed in on Germany from east and west, it became apparent to his top generals that the war would be lost. With Hitler’s reluctant approval, a group of high ranking Nazi officials decided it would be prudent to plan for a Fourth Reich. This would require keeping these scientists funded and working for many years. All knowledge about them including their exact locations as well as their discoveries would have to be kept secret until the time was right.
Thus the vital importance of the sole document containing this information placed inside the silver box made specially for Hitler. The box was taken from the Nazis in 1945 and hidden in a forest in what is now the Czech Republic.
My initial inclination was to limit the book to Max Bloomberg, the silversmith’s experiences in the camp, but perhaps because of my hospital emergency room experiences decided to change the protagonist to Bruce, his nephew and the chief ER physician at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital. Max’s experience was presented in the book as Max’s journal, and the novel revolves around a search by Bruce and Miriam, an aggressive, attractive Israeli woman for the silver box and it’s contents. While Bruce has difficulty crossing over from a healer to a person who must use violence, fortunately for him, Miriam has both the knowledge as well as the ability to handle violent situations when necessary.
Writing the novel required considerable research. Having worked during my training and military service in a number of emergency rooms as well as having been medical director of a large ER department in Chicago’s Mount Sinai Hospital, I was familiar with that aspect of the story. I studied articles and books on life inTheresienstadt concentration camp and had to learn a great deal about silversmithing.
For many years my writing experience had been limited to the type of technical material needed for my medical profession. I soon learned that writing fiction required learning new techniques.
Dialogue and careful descriptions were difficult crafts to understand and learn, but the hardest part of writing the novel was describing the conditions that Max went through in the concentration camp. His use of the “particular” silver, the provenance of which nearly drove him mad, perhaps had a similar effect on me. Needless to say, while Theresienstadt was technically not a death camp, the victims were starved, beaten and subject to many diseases. Writing Max’s journal thus brought forth thoughts about the suffering my own family must have gone through.
The dramatic ER scenes were easier because they were based on my personal experiences. Since like Bruce in the novel, I also have claustrophobia in tunnels, writing that scene caused me some discomfort.
It’s been over 65 years since the Holocaust ended, but the long lasting effects will never fade. There are survivors and relatives of victims in many communities. I’m one of the relatives, since the members of my father’s entire Lithuanian family were murdered by the Nazis.
Now, most people who pick up a copy of HITLER’S SILVER BOX will do so because it’s a historical thriller with all the mystery, suspense, action, even romance that good thrillers are noted for.
But to the discerning reader, there’s a much deeper meaning that became evident to me recently in reading online comments in a local newspaper’s internet website. Two anonymous neo-Nazis constantly spewed their racist, anti-Semitic, Holocaust denying rants, bragging about their continued worship of Adolph Hitler and their admiration for the murderous Waffen SS soldiers.
Yes, despite what the world knows about the horrors of Nazi Germany, there are in innumerable communities of our great country, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and Ku Klux Klan members, all hoping to finish what Hitler couldn’t.
Actually, I had put the novel aside, only deciding to finish it after reading these nasty comments.
Perhaps HITLER’S SILVER BOX will throw a little more light on how devoted to evil these types are.
About the author:
Dr. Allen Malnak graduated from the University of Illinois College of Medicine and interned at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital. After completing a three year Internal Medicine Residency at the Research and Educational Hospitals of the University of Illinois and the Westside VA Hospital, he was Chief of Internal Medicine at the US Army Hospital, Fort Sill, OK.
Following military service, Dr. Malnak was a Clinical Investigator in Liver Disease at Mount Sinai Hospital of Chicago. He practiced in the Chicago area as a Board Certified Internist for about thirty-five years. During that time he was a Clinical Instructor at Chicago Medical School and an Associate Attending Physician at Cook County Hospital for eight years and following that a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Stritch School of Medicine of Loyola University for twenty-five years.
He was Medical Director of a number of organizations, including the Emergency Department of Mount Sinai Hospital and Principle Health Care of Illinois. Dr. Malnak also served as Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine, President of the Medical Staff, a member of the Board of Directors of Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Chicagoland.
His interest in the Holocaust was sparked by the fact that his father came to the USA from Lithuania at age 16, leaving behind a large family. All the men, women and children of that family were sent to a death camp by the Nazis and exterminated.
The retired internist is married and has three living children from his previous marriage. He and his wife, Patricia live in southwest Florida with their Whippet—Paige, and Parakeet— Kiwi.
Visit Dr. Allen Malnak’s Science and Health Blog.