Front Book Cover: No Past Tense



by D.Z. Stone

No Past Tense is the biography of Katarina (Kati) Kellner and William (Willi) Salcer, two Czech Jews who as teenagers were swept up by the Holocaust in Hungary and survived Auschwitz and Mauthausen, respectively.

Covering their entire lives, weaving in first person 'real time' voices as if watching a documentary about themselves, the unique structure of No Past Tense provides a distinctive 'whole life' view of the Holocaust.

Book Reviews

Bill Tammeus

Former Faith columnist for The Kansas City Star

" plan was to read just enough of it to be able to do a short item... But I wound up reading every word and I'm betting you will, too."

Phil Jason

Reviewer & columnist for three Jewish newspapers and the Washington Independent Review of Books

"Soon-to-be-classic Holocaust narrative is a gripping tale of reinvention and romance"

Daniel D. Stuhlman

Academic & Synagogue Librarian, City Colleges of Chicago & Temple Sholom of Chicago

"This book < No Past Tense > is highly recommended for all libraries."

Book News

No Past Tense added to US Holocaust Memorial Museum Permanent Collection

A first edition copy of No Past Tense is now permanently housed at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Shapell Center. The Center is a state-of-the-art facility in Maryland with climate-controlled environments where media are treated and preserved for future generations.

Read more on the Shapell Center from the Museums' website: Shapell Center

View the No Past Tense online listing for the Shapell Center stacks: No Past Tense.

USHMM Shapell Center in Bowie, Maryland

No Past Tense receives stellar review in Journal of Holocaust and Genocide Studies

In her review of the book, Prof. Margrete Myers Feinsten, "highly recommends No Past Tense to anyone with an interest in the aftermath of genocide and as a text for classes in Holocaust Studies, biography, and life writing." Holocaust and Genocide Studies, considered the most prestigious journal in the field, is published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

View the book review in PDF format.


A special event featuring No Past Tense at this year's JAHLIT meeting was a resounding success!

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Open to the public, it was standing room only in the Gallery of The Betsy Hotel South Beach. There was a presentation by author D.Z. Stone followed by an interview and Q&A with the audience.

No Past Tense Goes Around the World With International Samaritan

No Past Tense was a book club selection for the team members and more than 800 scholars of International Samaritan, a non-profit organization that works to break the chains of poverty and improve lives in six nations.

The Salcer’s son Ron and author D.Z. Stone zoomed in to the book club meeting. International Samaritan President Mike Tenbusch said he was floored by Ron’s memories of his parents and D.Z.’s reflections resonated so strongly that he shared them with the entire organization.


No Past Tense, from Vallentine Mitchell & Co., Ltd., the original publisher of Anne Frank’s Diary, is a publisher’s bestseller. No comparable book in the past decade by Vallentine Mitchell has sold as many copies as No Past Tense.

Book Clubs & Classrooms

No Past Tense for General Reading & Academic Audiences

Book Clubs

From California to New York, No Past Tense has been read by book clubs across the country, and around the world thanks to organizations such as International Samaritan.

College Classroom

No Past Tense is taught in college courses on Jewish American Literature, Holocaust Literature and the Holocaust and Film as well as courses on migration and refugees.


The book is now in over 650 university libraries including Ivy League colleges, large state schools, U.S. service academies and Jewish institutions. 


Author D.Z. Stone and the Salcer's son Ron can appear virtually at book club meetings and classrooms and when possible, in person. For more info, please inquire below.

Renowned Scholar on Teaching No Past Tense

For those considering No Past Tense for their college classroom, here’s a letter to Ron Salcer from Dr. Holli Levitsky, Professor of English/Director of Jewish Studies, Loyola Marymount University.

Read Letter

Dear Ron,

I wanted to send you a note letting you know how much the book about your parents’ lives, No Past Tense: Love and Survival in the Shadow of the Holocaust, has meant to my students and to me.

As you know, I use the book in two of my courses at Loyola Marymount University. In “Literature of Exile and Terror,” a first year seminar course, the book helps students understand the trajectory of exile that comes from terror. It helps them explore the motivations that determine such exile, and the reasons why exile, finally, becomes the only choice. 

In my advanced English course, “American Jewish Literature,” the book helps students discover some of the ways in which Jews have come to the United States and become “American.” The story of your parents’ success and achievement as “American Jews,” also illuminates for students the multifarious ways that Jews helped build this country. Your father’s many patents and your mother’s intelligence, wisdom, grace, kindness and beauty represent a unique portrait of the refugee experience to all of my students.

The exceptional writing and the book’s innovative style and structure are so filmic that after reading the book students often talk about scenes as if they have “seen” them. Moreover, as my students are nearly the same ages as your parents, they relate to the story as your parents’ peers, universalizing the sadness, pain, loss and fear of young people as they are separated from their families, homes, schools, towns and forcibly sent away.

Ron, I just wanted to thank you and Donna for sharing your parents’ story in this powerful book. As a Holocaust scholar and teacher of Holocaust stories, No Past Tense has helped me increase understanding for the victims of Hitler’s genocidal rage and added an important and thrillingly-told narrative to our collection of Holocaust stories. Indeed, it stands above many of those stories for its ability to universalize the experience of terror, loss, exile and displacement, as well as how so many of the refugees from Europe contributed to the growth of 20th century America.

In gratitude,

Dr. Holli Levitsky
Professor of English/Director of Jewish Studies


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