by D.Z. Stone
Based on testimony by William and Katarina Salcer

No Past Tense: Love and Survival in the Shadow of the Holocaust (Vallentine Mitchell; October 16, 2019, Hardcover, Paperback, and eBook; 288 pages, 30 black/white photos) is the dual 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. A love story at its core, the book's publication date was the Salcers’ wedding anniversary, October 16th.

Kati and Willi Salcer never told their son Ron that they had been in concentration camps. No Past Tense began when Ron, realizing something had happened to his parents during the war, finally convinced them to interview for the Shoah Visual History Foundation in 1996.

The Salcers thought the Shoah tapes would satisfy their son. Even though watching the tapes devastated and angered Ron, his parent’s interviews only made him want to know more. He enlisted D.Z. Stone, a journalist, documentarian and writer specifically trained in cultural anthropology to chronicle their life stories.

Primarily based on more than 100 hours of interviews conducted in 1999, No Past Tense covers the Salcers’ entire lives, from childhoods in Czechoslovakia to liberation from the camps, a return to their hometowns after the war, and from pre-State Israel to New York City.

The book not only tells the personal story of survival and resilience—the Salcers’ story should be required reading for anyone seeking to overcome personal challenges—it also touches on many significant currents in World War II and postwar Jewish history, revealing significant tensions, political realities, contradictions, and challenges.

Unique for Holocaust memoir, No Past Tense weaves in the Salcers’ real time voices as if they are watching a documentary about themselves, a structure that provides a distinctive ‘whole life’ view of the Holocaust. Their ongoing dialogue running parallel over a nonfiction narrative account is a particularly modern style that many younger people find immediately relatable and accessible.

No Past Tense is a love story, survival story, European story, Jewish story, Israeli story, American story, war story – and, of course, a Holocaust story.


"Kati and Willi Salcers’ resilience in the face of terror demonstrates how nothing can stop us from living our lives. They are the definition of inspiration."

Tony Robbins

New York Times #1 Best Selling Author

Philanthropist, and the World’s #1 Life and Business Strategist
Advisor to Oprah Winfrey and Serena Williams

“From prewar Czechoslovakia to Auschwitz and Mauthausen, and from pre-State Israel to New York City, the journey of Willi and Kati Salcer is an unforgettable testimony of resiliency and reinvention. Once I began reading, I could not put this book down, and details of the Salcers’ journeys will stay with me for a long time. NO PAST TENSE deserves a place on the bookshelf with classic Holocaust memoirs.”

Amy Gottlieb

Author, The Beautiful Possible

"This timely book narrates a deeply moving love story in the face of profound survival. The audacity of the story and its characters—and the palpable suspense one derives from reading about them in ‘real-time’—left me breathless. Rarely—if ever—have I read a story about the Holocaust that left me wanting more, as this book does. As a carefully composed, eloquently written narrative about the Holocaust, the book is a monumental tribute to the victims. But on its own, it stands alongside the most evocative and riveting tales told about the persistence of love in the face of terror. Its multi-directionality makes it essential reading for our time."

Dr. Holli Levitsky

Loyola Marymount University

Professor of English and Director of Jewish Studies, Loyola Marymount University
Affiliated Professor, University of Haifa
Co-Director, Jewish American & Holocaust Literature Symposium

"In this beautifully written book, D.Z. Stone truly captures William and Katarina’s voices, giving each their own distinct story yet weaving them together in such a manner that much as the long married couple they were, William or Katarina complete each other’s sentences. Stone shows how they responded to the Holocaust not by looking back but by spiraling forward."

Dr. Michael Berenbaum

Director, Sigi Ziering Institute, America Jewish University

FMR President and CEO of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation
FMR Project Director, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
FMR Deputy Director of the President's Commission on the Holocaust.

D.Z. Stone - Writer, Journalist, Author

Author D.Z. Stone

D.Z. Stone is a journalist with academic training in cultural anthropology. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and Newsday. A graduate of the College of William and Mary, she holds a Masters from Columbia University. She resides outside of New York City.


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