About the Author

Gisela Zebroski War Time Passion

Gisela Zebroski

Gisela Zebroski, the author of the Books “The Baroness” and ”Mephisto Waltz”, was born in Latvia. At the outbreak of WW II the family was evacuated to Poland. They fled West when the Soviets broke through the German lines to escape their wrath. In Austria she was saved by a British officer who had only occupied the Alpine village where they hid out from the bombs. The “enemy” took her in his jeep to the distant hospital so that her infected appendix could be removed. From then on she loved everything “English.”  It took nine years before she could get on a boat to America which has been her homeland ever since.

Growing up with the stories of her people — Baltic Germans, an ethnic minority living in Latvia – Gisela was intrigued  by their strength and determination to carry on with dignity no matter what the circumstances. Her grandmother and mother were her role models. Their resourcefulness and unbending belief in perpetuating their tradition threw her into a double-bind which she resolved by working on her novels. Like Olga she had to free herself from the dictates of a world that no longer existed. In order to move on she had to shed the interrupted past and accept the harsh present and her place as refugee. Writing about the world that had been taken from her became a catharthis. Soon she could leave her nostalgia and homesickness behind and march into the future – America. Her memory provided the details for her true-to-life scenes, using the stories women had talked about during the war. They dreaded the Russians aware of the spoils victorious armies treated themselves to, and the poltical issues of being enemies of the communist people who would at best deport them to their Gulags.  Her mother escaped with her five children. She had experienced the Bolshevik atrocities during her childhood in Latvia which Gisela described in her book “The Baroness” where Lucie is one of the main characters. By writing about the cold, the bombs, and the stampede into overcrowded trains she relived her past. The memory of sitting in a shelter while a massive air raid destroyed parts of Vienna gave her the material for Dresden.  Her mother finally found safety in a small alpine village where they watched formations of silver birds roar toward their targets.

Through Olga von Schenck and Gottfried Gisela describes the last weeks of her father’s life near Berlin and the pain of losing him.  Ingo represents the enthusiastic young men that had gone to war and returned silent and withdrawn, if they returned at all.  Olga, the gifted musician and soothsayer, was her mother’s best friend, who went through being possessed by an evil entity.

Love heals and provides rose colored glasses that soften the darkness and ease the pain.

Ingo’s love gives Olga the confidence to stand up against those who accuse her of having conceived a child out of wedlock.  Caught in the Russian occupied zone of Germany she and her child cannot survive on their starvation diet and must humble herself to ask for help.  She ignores their rejection and escapes from the Russians. From this point on she not only tolerates the reproaches and and vile attacks of her aristocratic in-laws, she talks back and finally refuses to submit herself to her husband’s demands for her duty to him as a wife.  From victim she rises to take charge of the family.  Her independence gives her dignity and demands respect.   Her husband can no longer touch her and his mother becomes a caricature.  The support of her American friends foster her talents. During her performance she takes the limelight when she and her husband play duets.

Ingo loves the new Olga. He was released as prisoner of war. But the Countess had played out her trump, telling him that Olga had died when he’d asked her for Olga’s whereabouts. In his grief he comforted another and married her. He now has a son whom he cannot leave.

Olga’s love for the American way of life started at her first job as kitchen help on the base of the American Occupation Forces where one of the sergeants discovered her propencity as pianist. He gets her and her husband an audition and a contract to perform with one of the Big Band in New York. Her musical virtuosity, beauty and charm captivate the band leader and his audience, though her husband gets the admiration of the ladies. But Baron Lothar’s arrogance and his homesickness for his mother soon oblige Olga to return to Bavaria and the same old…

Mephisto Waltz illuminates the different worlds living side by side without taking notice of each other. There is Soviet occupied Germany, Allied occupied Germany, Switzerland and life on an American base  in the midst of defeated Germany as compared to New York and Los Angeles. Starving German refugees live in partitioned homes with people who received gifts from their American relatives or trade in the black market. American sergeants get rich by selling their cigarettes for whatever they want, from sex to jewels.  They reinlisted in order to keep the gold coming in.

Olga is a forerunner of the wave of German immigrants recruited for the growing aeronautic industry in California. She too makes her fortune, so does Ingo, except he stays in Germany until –.


Olga finds a new home in Los Angeles where she sets out to live the American dream and succeeds. But what about love?  Nothing can cool her passion for Ingo. She must find a way to him.




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