At the center of Leslie Maitland‘s new book, “Crossing the Borders of Time,” is Janine Gunzburger, a 15-year-old Jewish girl raised in Germany as the Nazis come to power, and her star-crossed romance with Roland, a French Catholic four years her senior.
In 1938, Sigmar and Alice Gunzburger and their three children, Norbert, Janine and Trudi, set out on what would be a five-year odyssey to find sanctuary.
From Freiburg on the edge of the Black Forest, the Gunzburgers fled to the Alsace-Lorraine region of France as the German occupation advanced. The family moved from one small Alsatian town to another, then to Lyons, and the port city of Marseille, where they boarded one of the last boats carrying European Jews to safety. After stops in Casablanca and Cuba, in 1943 they finally arrived in the United States.
Janine and Roland met in Alsace, and again in Lyon, where their love grew. But they were separated when the Gunzburgers sailed away from France. Despite vows to find each other after the war, they lost all contact.
In 1946, on a blind date in New York City, Janine met the man she would marry, American Leonard Maitland. Two children and 43 years of marriage later, Leonard lay dying.
Janine and Leonard’s daughter, Leslie, had begun her own odyssey to trace her mother’s story. Through her research and travels, she learns that Roland is alive and living in Canada. In 1991, nearly 50 years after they last saw each other, Janine and Roland reconnect.
Now, Leslie Maitland, a former New York Times reporter, has chronicled their story in her new book, “Crossing the Border of Time.”
We’ll post Friday’s NewsHour segment on Maitland and her book on Art Beat later this evening. In the meantime, you can watch her read from the book above, and you can read the first chapter after the jump.