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Author To Speak About Family Secrets From World War II At Westport Library

Rita Gabis
Rita Gabis Photo Credit: Rina Castelnuovo

WESTPORT, Conn. — Poet and historian Rita Gabis will discuss her memoir about the journey to unravel dark truths about her grandfather, chief of security police under the Gestapo during World War II, on Oct. 13 at 12 p.m. in the Westport Library’s McManus Room.

Books will be available for purchase and signing at the program, which is free and open to the public.

In “A Guest at the Shooters' Banquet: My Grandfather's SS Past, My Jewish Family, a Search for the Truth,” Gabis reveals what she discovered five years ago: From 1941 to 1943, her grandfather was the chief of security police under the Gestapo in a Lithuanian town where 8,000 Jews were killed in three days. The local Polish population was also hunted down.

Gabis, the daughter of a Lithuanian Catholic mother and Russian Jewish father, felt compelled to find the complicated truth of who her grandfather was and what he had done.

The result is "an eloquent testimony to the war’s enduring, violent impact," according to Kirkus in a starred review.

Gabis is the author of two books of poetry and co-author of a book on the craft of writing. Her awards include residencies at Yaddo and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass., as well as grants from the Connecticut State Arts foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She teaches creative writing at Hunter College.

Community partners for the program are The Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County and the Westport Country Playhouse, in collaboration with its celebration of Arthur Miller’s 100th anniversary and the fall production of his play “Broken Glass.”

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