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
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
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.
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
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:
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.