The Night Sky: A Journey From Dachau to Denver and Back

Image of The Night Sky: A Journey From Dachau to Denver and Back
Release Date: 
October 1, 2011
Johnson Books
Reviewed by: 

“. . . from the ashes of WWII, this story rises like a phoenix of love, dedication, and courage.”

Author Maria Sutton is born in a displaced persons (DP) camp shortly after the end of WWII. She immigrated to the United States in 1951 at age three. At thirteen, she discovers that a man named Jozef Kurek is her real father. Lacking the correct spelling of her father’s name and his true birth location, she embarks on a quest. Her story is an incredible tale of perseverance, dedication, and penetrating commitment to discovering her roots.

For five decades, the author cannot discover the true identity of her biological father. Yet her commitment never falters. Thanks to the Internet, her search is finally completed.

This is a fascinating memoir. The author’s writing style is succinct and expressive, adroitly capturing the hardships of wartime Poland. To be sure, this is not a Holocaust memoir. Instead, it captures the plight of gentiles caught up in the Nazi forced labor cauldron.

We tend to romanticize our concept of unknown or poorly understood ancestors. Placed upon a virtual pedestal, we naively envision them invincible heroes, true to our best concepts of ethics and morality.

As the author discovered, her biological father was far more human than the urbane idol she had imagined. This is a moving story of one woman’s tenacity in discovering her biological father and his footprint upon her sense of humanity.

As is almost always the case in such dramas, the sandpaper of reality scratches the patina off those we desperately imagine as erudite heroes. Rather than a spectacular starburst affirming mutual familial admiration, we witness their virtual reunion, exposing Ms. Sutton’s father as a very human artifact of her past, replete with flaws and imperfections.

But the author’s persistence and dedication shine through. She skillfully transitions between present and past and she delivers an excellent level of emotional consistency. This memoir is well-paced and factually driven. The addition of images throughout the book makes it a more rewarding reading experience.

Ms. Sutton’s quest is a gratifying example of the tenacity of someone dedicated to discovering the vestiges of her past while sustaining progress in her own life.

From contemporary Colorado, The Night Sky travels back into wartime Poland, Germany, even the Ukraine. And from the ashes of WWII, this story rises like a phoenix of love, dedication, and courage.