When Hitler’s army rolled into Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1939, Sam and Manya Schillinger had to act fast to save their family from the Nazi terror that was reigning on Europe. The Schillingers booked a trip to Cuba on the S.S. Saint Louis. But when the ship was refused in Cuba and the United States, more than 900 Jewish passengers returned to Europe to face an unknown future. It was then that Sam and Manya put into motion their “plan B.”
In Over the Big Water, Manya and Sam each tell their story. Excerpts from their journals, written for their children and grandchildren, tell of the trip on the Saint Louis, the return to Europe, life in a refugee camp, and living in an unknown place. It is a unique glimpse into the lives of two survivors who deeply loved each other and their family and who possessed strong hope for the future even in the face of intense adversity. In this unique telling of their escape from the holocaust twice, Sam and Manya share their thoughts, feelings, strength, and, along with their positive attitude, strategies for survival.
Educator and daughter-in-law Wynne A. Shilling guides the reader through this story with historical notes about the policies and politics that forced the Schillingers to give up everything they knew in exchange for survival. The reader will not only walk away with a renewed knowledge of the holocaust, but with deep respect and admiration for a couple who never gave up. Who never lost hope. Who did whatever was needed to get their family to safety Over the Big Water.