Literally and figuratively the amazing sea voyage with Ali Baba was all part of a youthful quest to discover Europe in the aftermath of World War II. Watching it with horror from Canada everyone asked, "What will be left of Europe?" After closely following it by radio, and the press, then working my way to France by sea with Ali, on a federal government contract in December 1950 I was able to enjoy two fascinating and illuminating years. I had arrived in time to savour the popular, early postwar era in Paris before the winds of change issued in the modern European world.
This book is written in remembrance also of all those teenagers, as we were in 1939, taken as slave labour from school to produce armaments for the Nazis. We had been shocked at the time by such news. Even before 1939, the Nazis were persecuting, imprisoning and exterminating Jewish teenagers and their entire families as we looked on.
In 1955, living in Montreal, I found myself in the midst of war-weary European women, many Holocaust victims and survivors among them, newly arrived as immigrants. Following the course of some of their lives has been inspiring as to the enormous strength of the human spirit.
It was there that in 1960, I witnessed the end of the centuries–old theocratic governance isolating Quebec from the modern world. With the birth of secular democracy equality for women and freedom for all invigorated Quebec society. Never far from my mind, I also got a close-up view of the deprivation of First Nations people.
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