HANGING HITLER'S LONG JOHNS
a memoir by Roman Ward and Frank Feldinger
This is the story of Roman Ward from his birth in Poland, through the War and Displaced Persons camps, through his service in the fledgling Israeli Air Force to finally reuniting with his mother in America. This book fulfills Roman's promise to his parents that the family’s account of the Holocaust would be told and that his mother’s memoirs from that time would be printed.
THE STORY BEHIND THE BOOK
In 2010 my new friend Roman Ward (nee Wisniewski) asked me to look at the journal his mother kept during their six-year odyssey of dodging the Nazis, Polish bounty hunters, neo-Nazis and G.I. bigots during and in the aftermath of World War II. Roman had promised his mother, Jadwiga, on her deathbed that he would have her journal published in his lifetime. Three writers had attempted to make a book of her journals but Roman felt all had failed utterly. I would learn that Roman himself had never read his mother’s writing and, like many Jews who survived the Holocaust, Roman and Jadwiga had never even talked about the dangers they faced, the horrors they witnessed or the loss of over a hundred family members.
Reading the journal made it obvious why the other writers had disappointed Roman: The best story was his. In fifty years as a working journalist it is the most astonishing personal narrative I have ever heard; how a 12-year-old boy was entrusted by his father with saving his older sister and mother. “You are the only one who will survive this war,” Roman’s father told him in the Polish ghetto before Roman fled wearing a Hitler Youth uniform.
This then is the story of Roman Ward from his birth in Poland, through the War and DP camps, through his service in the fledgling Israeli Air Force to finally reuniting with his mother in America. He has honored his promise to his mother; each chapter begins with her account of what happened and the book is filled with her accounts wherever Roman could confirm and expand them.
It’s a true and amazing story.
Los Angeles, 2016
"FOR MY MOTHER, MY FATHER, MY SISTER, AND FOR ALL MY RELATIVES MURDERED BY THE NAZIS. ALL SIX MILLION OF THEM."
Roman Ward was born in 1929 in Kalisz, Poland. At the age of 10, with only three years of schooling, he was taken out of school when the Nazis came to Kalisz. He was soon moved to the Ghetto, but after a short time managed to escape and spent years on the run in hiding with his mother Jadwiga. After the war ended, there was no home to return to and Roman and his mother were put in Displaced Persons Camps in Munich and Stuttgart, where he learned the art of jewelry making from World ORT, the Jewish education and vocational training organization.
By 1948 Roman had moved to Israel, where he attended pilot school and joined the airforce. After six years of not seeing his mother, he moved to New York to be with her and began working for the well-known jeweler Jack Gutschneider. In 1960 he moved to LA, where he founded the immensely successful Roman Ward Jewelry Institute. Around 60 students attended the school each year, many of them workers who had suffered injuries and could not work elsewhere. In addition to his school, Roman opened a jewelry store in Beverly Hills that catered to some of LA's best known celebrities. Canadian movie star Glenn Ford and Italian operatic singer actress Anna Maria Alberghetti were among his clientele.
Now 87, Roman is retired and lives in West Los Angeles with his beloved wife Sachiko and their two cats. He is the proud father of Annette, a real-estate lawyer, and Isidor, known as "Doron" (Hebrew for "Gift), a successful psychiatrist. His memoir, Hanging Hitler's Longjohns, fulfills the promise he made to his mother to tell their family story.
Frank Feldinger is an award winning print and broadcast journalist for over 50 years. He has written for publications as diverse as The National Enquirer and the New York Times, Fortune and Mother Jones, CBS News and Hard Copy. He is the author of A Slight Epidemic, a well-received account of the Black Plague in Los Angeles. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Lori, two sons and two dogs.