Fateful Choice – August 10, 1940
Czech refugee Osvald “Valdik” Holzer writes from Peking (Beijing) on August 20, 1940 to refugee friend Rudolf “Rudla” Rebhun in Shanghai. Valdik has unexpectedly been forced to leave his position as head physician at the American Brethren Hospital in Ping Ting Hsien, Shansi (Shanxi) Province in the Northern Central Region of interior China. Since January 1940, Valdik has served his Chinese patients amidst raging typhus outbreaks and fierce battles between the armies of Japan and Chinese Communist.
So I have decided to write to you after one month of silence in order for you not to feel lonely and to notify you of my new temporary address. A temporary one, as it will be decided in a few days if I go as a university assistant to Tsinan-Chilu (Shantung Province) or if I’m going to stay at Peking Union Medical College, where I work now in the Dermatology Department. If I stay here, I would be able to move into the hospital where I have an assigned apartment already, but I don’t want to haul my things there if it is not for a longer term, and thus I am awaiting the final decision.
So I have been again very lucky as just after I left Shansi, contrary to my plan one week early, there have been enormous troubles as far as you perhaps were able to read in Shanghai papers. Therefore, our “settlement of young dreams” fell into hands of “red hordes” three days after my strategic escape, now not only ours, but surrounding regions as well as damaged by a “a red catastrophe”. If I had stayed there, I could have experienced various things, so I even don’t know if I had luck or nothing. So far, I have suffered damage only with my correspondence which is sent to Shansi now, meaning that it is waiting somewhere along the way, and so I hope that I will get in three months. I have been therefore with no news from home for more than a month.”
I am sending you cordial greetings, Yours, Valdik
Background: The Chinese Communist Army launched a series of offensives against the Japanese in 1940 from mid-summer to December. In a major offensive on August 20 about 40,000 men of the Communist Eighth Route Army attacked the major railways and roads in northern China where Valdik had been working. In a fateful decision just before the event, he traveled to Peking for hospital supplies and was stranded there. Three months later, the Communist army killed or wounded 20,000 Japanese troops and 18,000 collaborating Chinese soldiers. Japanese counter-attacks had orders to “kill all, burn all, destroy all,” and destroyed entire villages in the area Valdik had just left.
Source: China at War – 1937 – 1939 by Sanderson Beck
From the author of the 2013 Global Ebook Award for Best Biography: Adventurers Against Their Will www.joanieschirm.local
Fateful Choice – August 1940
Fateful Choice – August 10, 1940
Published by Joanie Schirm
Joanie Schirm won the 2013 Global Ebook Award for Best Biography for her book: Adventurers Against Their Will. Potomac Books will publish the second book, her father’s epic WWII tale, My Dear Boy: A World War II Story of Escape, Exile, and Revelation on March 1, 2019. Joanie is an award-winning writer, photographer, community activist, and retired Orlando, Florida businesswoman. The daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Oswald Holzer, she grew up on a sandy barrier island on the Space Coast of Florida, a place where extraordinary memories are made and pelicans soar. A sought after public speaker, she is internationally known for her highly successful leadership role in Orlando’s hosting of FIFA’s 1994 World Cup USA 1994. She is the proud parent of two adult children, Kelly and Derick, and lives in Orlando with her husband, Roger Neiswender. Her books can be purchased here.