A Memoir by Galina De Roeck
Released in paperback 31 May 2021. 354 pp.
“De Roeck’s life experiences have been intertwined with some of the most fascinating – and also the most horrifying – historical events of the twentieth century…She has seen it all, first hand. Dr. De Roeck’s memoir makes for absorbing reading.”
– David N. Gibbs, Professor of History, University of Arizona
“De Roeck is a refugee from that great world that Americans are taught not to understand… her life is full of lessons worth sharing… Americans who never budge to put an end to their leaders’ endless verbal hostility against Russia and preparations for more and more war should take the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of a woman who has truly been there.”
– Diana Johnstone, author of Circle in the Darkness: Memoir of a World Watcher
“An odd whistling came through the car radio, then there was a sound gap, then something like a huge wave breaking. I doubled over, and when my husband Rick took his eyes off the road momentarily to glance at me in surprise, I was still unable to speak. He pulled the van over and brought it to a stop: he thought I was having a heart attack.
It took me some time to get the words out. “Did they just say we were bombing Belgrade?” Yes, our radio had been tuned to NPR. But what was the matter with me? My body had registered the news before I did, and there was a split between me and myself. There I was, a three-year-old in the Belgrade of 1941 to whom this whistling noise was intimately familiar, with its willed sound blank before the inevitable, earth-shattering explosion. And here I was, a late-middle-aged American woman on the way to the supermarket in 1999. We were raining missiles on Belgrade, I was a little girl in a cellar in Belgrade, and it felt like I was bombing myself.
Rick tried to comfort me, but it was as if I had disappeared into the gap between the whistling and its resolution on impact. All his assurances about smart bombs and surgically excised targets and Milošević and ethnic cleansing sounded familiar but odd, as if dubbed.
Rick and I went on with our errands, returned home, had a meal, and went to bed. I kept tossing and turning, and then I found myself in this dream: I was in a place I knew well, the house with the big porch in Belgrade… I was sitting on the rug in the play corner between my parents’ bed and the glass door to the other room…And I was crying and crying… I looked up… There was someone crying out there on the porch… I moved in that direction, but Mom stood by the door, her eyes flashing… I hesitated, then reached up and began to turn the knob…
It was high time to enter the gap between the middle-aged woman settled in the U.S. and the little girl sitting it out in a cellar in Belgrade. But those doors in my dream… Did I really want to open them?”….
– From the Prelude
Galina De Roeck was born in Bihać, Yugoslavia in 1938 to Russian émigré parents and grew up in Belgrade, Germany, Morocco, and Australia. She received her BA at Sydney University and her PhD in Comparative Literature at City University of New York. She has taught at St. Peter’s College, Rutgers University, Michigan State University, and the University of Arizona. In addition to her work in the field of literary criticism, Galina De Roeck has lectured on international affairs in the United States and participated in and led peace delegations to Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. The Door in the Nightmare: From the Russian Revolution to Pax Americana is her tell-all of a life lived through war and peace.