I borrowed shamelessly from my grandmother’s youth and from my own Pennsylvania heritage in creating Rose, the heroine of Rose Under Fire. I made her a middle-class American girl on purpose: I wanted to give today’s readers a feeling for how ordinary the victims of the Nazi regime were—how like us.
There weren’t many Americans imprisoned in Ravensbrück, but there were a few, and there may have been others I don’t know about (or others nobody knows about). The two known native-born American prisoners were Gemma LaGuardia Gluck (the sister of the mayor of New York) and Virginia d’Albert-Lake (she married a Frenchman and did Resistance work in France). According to Wanda Półtawska in And I Am Afraid of My Dreams, fellow prisoner Aka Kołodziejczak, whose father was American, had American citizenship. Renee Scott, who was born in Calais, France, moved to New Jersey when she was two and spent her childhood in Rhode Island and New York. She returned to France and Belgium as a young adult, then later was arrested for Resistance work during the war and held in a number of prisons before being sent to Ravensbrück.