Lizzi & Fredl is one of the best books that I have read this year. Biographies tend to only be bestsellers if they concern some well known figure, yet those books hold little interest to me. I much prefer real stories about real people.

Bill Stanford has hit the nail on the head with his book, a biography of his parents experiences during WWII. Lizzi and Fredl were Austrians, they were not Jewish, they were Roman Catholics, Fredl was a well respected Master Jeweler, and Lizzi a dressmaker with a large following. Rather than support the Nazi movement they fled to France.

The treatment they received at the hands of the Vichy government was appalling.

I had the opportunity to talk with Bill Stanford, and as is not uncommon with my interviews, the allotted 30 minutes actually turned into almost an hour. A clear case of getting two people together who love to talk! Actually it was a wonderful interview, and I learned much that is not included in the book.

It took Bill 25 years of asking for his parents to finally tell their story. He had asked them countless times to share what happened before his birth, and each time Fredl would say ‘Oh not this week, maybe next week’, or just change the subject altogether. In 1998, with Fredl now in his late 80’s Bill tried a new tactic. Refusing to be rebuked with the “maybe next week” response, Bill countered with “what if there is no next week?”

That comment gave Fredl some pause for thought, and finally he agreed that it was time to share the story.

Author Bill Stanford explains that even having agreement, it was still an uphill battle. Decades have passed, and the human memory is a strange storage device, often times it does not work in a neat chronological fashion…

This was a 15,000 piece jigsaw puzzle and at the beginning I had 200 pieces

Bill kept at the mission, and there is actually an amusing story concerning electronics, but I will not spoil that one, you will have to discover it for yourself.

Perseverance did pay off, and we now have what I class as a best seller.

One of the mysteries in the book is a photograph that Bill Stanford was given by someone he knew, It shows Hitler and some of his supporters gathered around a table.

Neither Bill nor I are experts on the subject, but I did a little digging, the internet is a wonderful place. I received some responses….

 What I see on your picture is Hitler before 1933, and most likely before 1930. I´m quite sure its in Bavaria, probably the Bürgerbäukeller in Munich (you´ll hardly find those giant beer cups outside Bavaria). It seems to be an official Nazi party event of some smaller kind as can be guessed by the Flag and SA guard. As the later dictator is wearing a suit I think its relatively safe to say these men with Hitler are (local) businessmen or other influential persons. And they are party members, they wear a button, and what else could that be here than the NSDAP party membership-button.

Sorry to disappoint you, but this is a very well known photo, published many times. It shows Hitler with early NS party members, Strasser, Fiehler, Weber, Hitler, Schwarz, Amann and Graf (back of head could be Schaub).

You can listen to the whole interview here.

You can order your copy of this very fine book from Amazon, and every indication is that Lizzi & Fredl will be in your favorite book store very soon. Bill Sanford also has a web site, I’ll share a secret with you, he loves to get feedback.

So much of our knowledge about the Second World War comes from the sanitized ‘quick’ reads that are presented in our school system that I have reservations that any of these ‘canned’ and convenient explanations mean anything.

I am a fan of original history, Dr. William Sanford has brought to life a very important story. One that has been lost in the need to precis history into a 45 minute lesson. Lizzi & Fredl is a great book, and author Bill Stanford is an engaging man. This is one book that should go far.

Simon Barrett

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