Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


Creative Writing and Publishing

First Advisor

Robin Hemley

Committee Chair and Members

Robin Hemley, Chair

Gregary Racz


Personal naratives, Poland Silesia, Self harm, Trauma, World War 1939-1945, WWII refugees


My creative non-fiction thesis, Escape, is a memoir of the five years I lived in Bern, Switzerland, 1988-1993. During that time, I interviewed my neighbor, Horst Schirm, about his life during the waning years of World War II in what was the eastern border of the German Reich (Jauer, Schlesien) but is now Poland (Jawor, Sląsk). His mother with Horst and his two brothers and sister traveled from Jauer to Frankfort am Main and back to Jauer in an attempt to escape the Allied bombing raids and to find their father, who was missing. Finally, they, with the other remaining Germans, were driven out of Jauer and forced to walk to Berlin. Eventually, they settled in Schleswig-Holstein, where the Red Cross reunited them with their father.

During a trip to Jawor in 1991, made with Horst and his wife, memories of my own childhood surfaced, complicating my relationship with Horst and my understanding of myself.

There is no happy ending: our friendship could not survive. But out of that sorrow, understanding, once unimaginable, arose.

Available for download on Saturday, May 31, 2025