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Houston artist and writer publishes book on journey through WWII sites

August 8, 2018

Erin Faith Allen, a Houston writer, photographer and filmmaker, has published a book titled The In Between, which is a memoir about her 19-day journey through Europe visiting World War II sites.

Allen noted that she has always had an interest in World War II history, ever since she read The Hiding Place in school, which is about Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch woman who hid Jewish people during the Holocaust.

“It’s just something that has been inside of me for a long time,” Allen said. “I have had a strong compulsion to try to understand how a group of people could be responsible for World War II.”

She moved to London in 2009, and at the time her husband had been researching World War II.

During her time living in Europe, she met a German soldier at a speaking event, and she also attended a D-Day event at Normandy, France.

“That was it for me,” Allen said.

Allen continued, “I was confronted with a world where World War II was present, and I just fell down that rabbit hole. I decided to follow something that was a life long passion.”

All this time she had been researching and traveling intensely, as well has building up a huge amount of artwork and emotional experience. Yet, due, to the grimness of the topic, she kept most of it in secret.

She was going on a 19 day trip to visit World War II sites in Germany, Austria, Poland, Latvia and the Czech Republic during December 2017, and thought she could produce a sketch book from her experiences as a “coming out party.”

“That sketchbook turned into a 408 massive tell all. It became a memoir of 19 days and of one of the hardest times of my life,” Allen said.

Allen noted that one of the most powerful sites for her was Gunskirchen Concentration Camp in Austria. The camp was built late in the war and held primarily Hungarian Jewish people, as well as some political prisoners. The site is now a forest.

“My friend’s father had been one of the liberators of this camp. I felt a personal duty to go here. It was a very powerful moment in a still, foggy forest,” Allen said.

Allen said that for her, the book is an act of remembrance.

“For many of these people, their memories and their stories were completely extinguished. Maybe if we are lucky we known their just their names and where they died. If we know how precious life is, and if we remember all of the people who lived and died through World War II, we can try to make sure this does not happen again,” Allen said.

Allen hopes that the people who read the book will realize that people haven’t changed that much, and we aren’t as removed from the genocide as we think we are.

“We are blindly moving through our lives and judging and harming each other in various ways. It is a slippery slope. I want people to think about how they move through the world and the decisions they make,” Allen said.

Allen’s book The In Between can be bought online at www.erinfaithallen.com. She also welcomes visitors to her website to browse through her blog and her artwork for sale.

rebecca.hazen@chron.com

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