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Mitka's Secret
Cover of Mitka's Secret
Mitka's Secret
A True Story of Child Slavery and Surviving the Holocaust
Borrow Borrow

The remarkable life story of Mitka Kalinski, who survived seven years of enslavement—while still a child—to a Nazi officer during and after World War II 

Mitka Kalinski had never revealed his past to anyone. Not even to his wife or his four children. 

But in 1981, three decades after it had all ended, Mitka finally broke his silence about the horrors he had endured during the Holocaust and in the years immediately afterward: not only German concentration camps and sadistic medical experiments but also seven years of enslavement in the household of a Nazi officer, “Iron” Gustav Dörr. 

Having been orphaned before the war, Mitka did not know his origins or even his name. Torture, slavery, and a false name stripped him of his identity entirely. Thus, when he immigrated to the United States in 1951, Mitka seized the opportunity to bury his past and forge a new life. He lived the American life in all its fullness and moved to Nevada with his beloved wife, Adrienne, and their children. But the secret he carried became an increasingly heavy burden, preventing wholeness and healing. 

This is Mitka’s account of facing the past, confronting his captors, connecting with lost relatives, and finding peace in the rediscovery of his origins. For Mitka, this also meant reclaiming his Jewish heritage—a journey that gave him a new sense of purpose and freedom from the lingering effects of trauma that had filled his life to that point. By the end, Mitka’s Secret is less a story of survival and more one of redemption and transformation—from hidden suffering to abundant joy.

The remarkable life story of Mitka Kalinski, who survived seven years of enslavement—while still a child—to a Nazi officer during and after World War II 

Mitka Kalinski had never revealed his past to anyone. Not even to his wife or his four children. 

But in 1981, three decades after it had all ended, Mitka finally broke his silence about the horrors he had endured during the Holocaust and in the years immediately afterward: not only German concentration camps and sadistic medical experiments but also seven years of enslavement in the household of a Nazi officer, “Iron” Gustav Dörr. 

Having been orphaned before the war, Mitka did not know his origins or even his name. Torture, slavery, and a false name stripped him of his identity entirely. Thus, when he immigrated to the United States in 1951, Mitka seized the opportunity to bury his past and forge a new life. He lived the American life in all its fullness and moved to Nevada with his beloved wife, Adrienne, and their children. But the secret he carried became an increasingly heavy burden, preventing wholeness and healing. 

This is Mitka’s account of facing the past, confronting his captors, connecting with lost relatives, and finding peace in the rediscovery of his origins. For Mitka, this also meant reclaiming his Jewish heritage—a journey that gave him a new sense of purpose and freedom from the lingering effects of trauma that had filled his life to that point. By the end, Mitka’s Secret is less a story of survival and more one of redemption and transformation—from hidden suffering to abundant joy.

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About the Author-

  • Steven W. Brallier is both a collector and a teller of stories, qualities he developed in his childhood on the western highlands of Kenya. After life in Kenya, Steve had a long career in the entertainment industry as a promoter, agent, and writer, which exposed him to many people with amazing stories. None was more compelling than Mitka's. Almost immediately a deep trust developed between Steve and the Kalinskis, a trust that provided the essential foundation for the powerful story that is Mitka's Secret.
Table of Contents-
  • Table of Contents

    Preface
    Part One: Slavery
         1. Kinderheim: Bila Tserkva and Kiev, 1939–1941
         2. Camps: Birkenau, Buchenwald, Dachau, and Pfaffenwald, Autumn 1941–Winter 1942
         3. Iron Gustav: Rotenburg an der Fulda, December 1942
         4. Moly: Rotenburg an der Fulda, 1942–1943
         5. The Voice: Rotenburg an der Fulda, 1944
         6. A White Flag: Rotenburg an der Fulda, Spring 1945
         7. Amis: Rotenburg an der Fulda, 1945–1949
         8. Bad Aibling: Bad Aibling, 1949–1950
         9. Demitro: Bad Aibling, 1950–1951
    Part Two: Secrets
         10. America: The Bronx, February 1951–1952
         11. Tim: Baltimore, 1952–1953
         12. Adrienne: North Tonawanda, 1953
         13. Marriage: North Tonawanda and Lockport, 1953–1959
         14. Heading West: Reno and Sparks, 1959–1963
         15. The Sixties: Sparks, 1963–1969
         16. The Seventies: Sparks, 1970–1981
    Part Three: Redemption
         17. The Phone Call: Sparks, 1981–1982
         18. Citizenship: Sparks, 1982–1984
         19. Back to Germany: Rotenburg an der Fulda, Early November 1984
         20. Fobianka: Rotenburg an der Fulda, Late November 1984
         21. “My Brother”: Sparks, 1997
         22. Reunion: London, Summer 1997
         23. Bar Mitzvah: Mineola, Long Island, 2001
    Afterword

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 24, 2021
    Researcher Brallier, religious scholar Lohr, and Beck, dean at Pacific Lutheran University, present a moving account of the story of Mitka Kalinski, who survived seven years as a Nazi’s slave before building a life in America. Mitka fled Poland for Ukraine with relatives in 1939, only to be captured and sent to four concentration camps before turning seven. Unsurprisingly, the most harrowing and impactful scenes are from his time in the camps, particularly Mitka’s vivid memories of a stack of corpses and his thought that puppies—not fetuses—were being removed from women’s bellies. In 1942, he was selected to join the household of Gustav Dörr in Rotenburg, Germany to serve as a child laborer. Treated as a slave, Mitka was deprived of sleep and food, becoming so desperate that he’d sometimes sample the pigs’ slop before delivering it to their pen. After the war ended, he was sent to America, where despite being illiterate and not knowing English, Mitka found work and love, and fathered four children—keeping his past a secret until 1981, when the thought of dying spurred a desire to record his life’s history. Mitka’s remarkable story harrowingly demonstrates the horrors and personal repercussions of the Holocaust.

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    Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
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Mitka's Secret
Mitka's Secret
A True Story of Child Slavery and Surviving the Holocaust
Steven W. Brallier
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