New Book: Memoir of Panamanian prisoner of the Nazis

Demóstenes Vergara Stanziola, drawing on letters he sent to his father during his years as a student in Paris, has just published an autobiography, Truenos de guerras y luces, in which he describes having been a”civil”prisoner of the Nazis during the German occupation of Paris.  Here’s the story from Panama’s Informador.
Panamanian author Demóstenes Vergara Stanziola made use of the letters he sent to his father during his years as a student in Paris (1937-1944) to publish a memoir in which she describes, among many vicissitudes, that of having been a  “civil prisoner” of the Nazis during the occupation. The work, which Panama’s Exedra Press released this week, is a fictionalized autobiography that took thirty years to write. Vergara, who, at 94, is confined to a wheelchair due to health problems, attended Wednesday’s launch.
Divided into 47 chapters and over 548 pages, the book traces not only the difficulties and challenges Vergara faced in the French capital, but his bohemian adventures and friendships with figures of the jet set, artists and entertainers, diplomats, and playboys like Porfirio Rubirosa.

Vergara tells of how he went to Paris to study medicine but switched to engineering before France was occupied by German troops, who held him as a “civil prisoner” and banned him from leaving the French capital. This could have been avoided if he had not rejected an offer from the Panamanian government at that time to return to their country before the occupation of Paris. He was finally released in a prisoner exchange in 1944.
The book had its origins in a collection that Vergara made of all the letters he sent to his father during his student years in Paris. The purpose of collecting the letters was to order their reports and publish them at intervals through newspaper articles, but finally decided to write a book that began developing in 1980, said one of the author’s two sons. “His letters were the source of his memories of the most critical times he lived in France during World War II, the rest was a total effort of my father’s to write this work,” he added. “We are very pleased that at 94, my father is alive to see the presentation of his work,” he added.
This is the first literary work for this Panamanian author, whose earlier published work dealt with technical issues in civil engineering.
Rogelio Terán, operations manager for Editorial Exedra,said they launched a print run of 1,000 copies (a large run for a Panamanian imprint) because of the work’s “narrative quality,” and added that they planned to promote it in Mexico and Argentina.
For the original report (in Spanish) go to

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