A Fairy Tale Unmasked
The Teacher and the Nazi Slaves
Vaupel, Dieter with Stone, D.Z.
A Fairy Tale Unmasked is two books in one, each building on the other. Part I is the effort of a German High School teacher and his indefatigable students to uncover the true history of their town, once the site of a Nazi slave labor camp. Part II is the memoir of Blanka Pudler, a 15-year-old Jewess incarcerated in that camp. As usual D.Z. Stone writes movingly, compellingly. The result, a story so worth telling, so well told.
Dr Michael Berenbaum, American Jewish University, Los Angeles, CA
As a teacher in the 1980s, Dieter Vaupel broke the long silence surrounding the crimes of National Socialism. With his students, he documented the suffering of foreign forced workers, established relationships with these exploited people, and honored their lives in various ways, including bringing Blanka Pudler’s story to the world.
A Fairy Tale Unmasked is two books in one. Part One is the story of Dieter Vaupel, a German high school teacher who, in 1983, uncovered a hidden past when he and his students began researching what happened in their town during the Nazi regime.
The picturesque town of Hessisch Lichtenau was where thousands of slave laborers, including 1,000 women and girls from Auschwitz, were forced to work in one of the largest munitions factories in all of Europe. Vaupel and his students broke through the wall of silence surrounding this history and stood up to threats to leave the past alone. Then, amid further controversy, Vaupel and a group of townspeople contacted former forced workers and invited them to come back to Hessisch Lichtenau.
In 1986, Blanka Pudler, who as a 15-year-old girl was sent from Auschwitz as a slave laborer, was one of those who returned. Part Two of A Fairy Tale Unmasked is Pudler’s account of her enslavement, a story she would go on to tell to thousands of German schoolchildren. In honor of her efforts, in 2012 she was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Part One is written by journalist D.Z. Stone with the cooperation of Dieter Vaupel. Part Two is by Dieter Vaupel, based on his interviews with Blanka Pudler. This is an extraordinary collaboration that makes for compelling and captivating reading.
350 pages, 50 black and white illustrations