Office of Public Relations
Pomona, NJ 08240
Belgium Born Author and New Jersey Resident, Arlette deMonceau Michaelis, Publishes Memoirs
“Beyond the Ouija Board” Tells of Author’s Teenage Years Resisting German Occupation and Sheltering Jews During World War II
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Contact: Tim Kelly
Stockton Public Relations
GALLOWAY TWP., NJ – Brussels born author and former Avalon Elementary School teacher, Arlette deMonceau Michaelis, recently published her memoirs in a book entitled “Beyond the Ouija Board.” The book tells of her efforts as a rescuer of would-be Jewish Holocaust victims during World War II.
The book was made possible through efforts of the Holocaust Resource Center of The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. It was edited by Dr. Maryann McLoughlin O’Donnell, Assistant Supervisor of the Center.
The book jacket, designed by Visual Arts graduate Jacob Pezzicola of Waretown, New Jersey, features some of the designs found on an Ouija Board, in reference to the book’s title. The Ouija Board, a game purporting to contact mystical spirits, and the board game Monopoly, were two of the main sources of entertainment the Belgian and Jewish children used when they were in hiding. The Ouija copyright designs were used on the book jacket with permission of Hasbro, Inc.
“We never asked the Ouija Board questions about the Holocaust or the war, things like that,” Arlette recalls. “We did not even know about the Holocaust until it had ended. We had heard some terrible stories from those who had escaped, but it did not seem real until it was confirmed after the war.”
Michaelis lived in Belgium throughout the German occupation that began in 1940, and joined forces with the rest of her family harboring and aiding Jews, while at the same
time distracting the German soliders through a series of harassing measures including publishing anti-Nazi propaganda. She recalls being a courier and aide to Father Bruno Reynders, a Benedictine monk who saved 320 Jewish children by hiding them in various locations around Belgium. Reynders’ journals can be found at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.
“The Belgian people were very strong when it came to resisting the Nazi occupation,” Michaelis said. “We were very fortunate in that our apartment house had an empty, upstairs apartment with room to hide people. That’s just what you did if you had the room to do it. Many other families did the same thing. It wasn’t that we thought of ourselves as being heroic. It was just something that you did if you had the ability.” Members of Michaelis’ family were incarcerated for a period of time in Saint Gilles Prison due to their anti-Nazi activities.
“Beyond the Ouija Board” became the metaphor for the spiritual survival of the family during the occupation and the war, and the eventual freedom they would come to realize. The book was published by ComteQ Publishing and was released in May of this year.
For further information about the publication, please call the Holocaust Resource Center at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey at 609-652-4699.