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Newtown author pens memoir about his Holocaust survivor mother’s life


“Bipolar Refugee: A Saga of Survival and Resilience,” by Newtown author Peter Wiesner will be released Sept. 1 by Amsterdam Publishers.

“Bipolar Refugee,” is the frank account of a German-Jewish Holocaust survivor from Berlin whose desperate parents put their teenage daughter on the Kindertransport in 1939. She would never see them again.

Based on an extensive collection of Mary’s documents, correspondence, and autobiographical writings, “Bipolar Refugee” traces her tumultuous but colorful life as a Holocaust refugee in England and her return to Berlin to marry a German prisoner of war, a path that sharply diverged from the expectations of her parents that their daughter would use her freedom to live a devout Jewish life.

Mary Krotoczynski was a fiercely independent feminist ahead of her time, a determined survivor who eventually marshaled an exodus with her children to America where her circumstances as a single mother in topsy-turvy Southern California brought new challenges.

She proved her resiliency by recovering from multiple hospitalizations for bipolar disorder with help from relatives and the unfailing support of the Jewish community. Mary mingled her ties to the Judaism of her father, a devout cantor, with her own pantheistic outlook, cosmopolitan politics, and strong opposition to prejudice and bigotry.

“Bipolar Refugee” is built around Mary’s writings recounting loves, trials, and her own brand of feminism. Written by her son who includes the stories of those who loved and knew her well, this frank and unusual memoir explores the people and places that provide the context of Mary’s life and contributes to our understanding of the diversity and complexity of the Holocaust’s impact on survivors and their descendants.

In October, Wiesner will travel to Berlin to commemorate his mother and her family in cooperation with students and teachers at a German high school (Max Planck Gymnasium).

In the coming months after the book release, he plans to schedule book talks locally.

Wiesner has worked as a writer, artist, educator, and documentary film producer based in Bucks County. Born in England and later raised in Germany, he has lived most of his life in the United States. He studied history at UC Berkeley and completed graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School of Communication and Rutgers Graduate School of Education.