About the Book:
A Search for a Famed Illustrator Uncovers a World War II Hero
1934: A 13-year-old Jewish boy escapes Nazi Germany to become the highest decorated WWII Palestinian (future
Israeli) soldier in the British Army.
2010: A top Israeli computer scientist searches for the favorite artist of her youth.
From the rise of the Nazi Party through the formation of the State of Israel, across a sea of time, their worlds collide.
An esteemed researcher at IBM Israel joined a sixty-year search to discover the identity of the illustrator of “the pearl of Israeli children’s literature,” And There Was Evening, a bestseller and timeless classic, now in its 42nd edition. Fred Hausman, the celebrated, but unknown, artist also happened to be the highest decorated WWII Palestinian soldier in the British Army, the only one to earn the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), the highest gallantry award for a non-British citizen in the British Army, making it the most important WWII medal to Israel.
The present and the past meld in The Lost Artist: Love Passion War (Part 1) written by Fred Hausman’s son, Eric Hausman-Houston. The Israeli researcher’s quest to find her favorite illustrator serves as a present-day backdrop to tell Fred Hausman’s harrowing story of escaping Nazi Germany at age thirteen and traveling alone to Palestine.
There, he befriended an untamable horse and King Abdullah of Jordan. He joined the Haganah and he helped save illegal Jewish immigrants. The Lost Artist chronicles Hausman’s time in the British Army up until the decisive moment of WWII’s North Africa Campaign, the El Alamein line, 65 miles west of Alexandria, Egypt, July 3, 1942, when the Nazis had won the war but didn’t know it.
Young Hausman’s journey offers personal insight into the history of Palestine and Israel, the rise of the Nazi Party, Zionism, the Holocaust, WWII, and the seeds of our present day Middle East Crisis. The Lost Artist exposes neglected history and government coverups, including British atrocities in Palestine to both Arabs and Jews, why Winston Churchill had to perpetuate the Rommel myth, and how German resistance working at a Berlin radio station gave their lives to stop the Nazis from winning the war.
The Quest for the Medal Continues to this Day
Fred Hausman’s Distinguished Conduct Medal was unlawfully sold to a British lord under false terms. At the end of the book, there is a bonus chapter with information on these seedy misdoings, followed by documentation of Eric Hausman-Houston’s correspondence with Scotland Yard, the British Ministry of Defense, DNW Auction House, and billionaire Lord Michael Ashcroft, who is currently in possession of the stolen medal.
Part History, Part Mystery
The Lost Artist: Love Passion War (Part 1)
“A page-turner! Revealing important insight into little-known history of pre-state Palestine and World War II, this fascinating journey of a remarkable man is a rip-roaring story from beginning to end. I recommend it to everyone.”
Rabbi Mark S. Golub, JBS TV, jbstv.org
1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?
In the early 80’s, I was offered a Julliard scholarship by Abbey Simon and was signed by Global Records, who changed my name from Hausman to Houston. The producers of my first album, Beethoven Sonatas: Moonlight Pathetique Appassionata, won the Grammy that year. I did over a hundred concerts to promote my second album, Tonight and Forever. Being responsible for all my travel, I went into serious debt. Life as a D-list concert pianist was sort of a nightmare. Since I couldn’t afford to play, I planned to just sit out my four-year contract. I then wrote my first play, Playing with Fire, which was picked up by Earl Graham of the Graham Agency and optioned for Off-Broadway by Lois Deutchman, and I never went back to the piano.
My second play, Sweet Deliverance, received some great reviews from regional productions and was the last play optioned by legendary Broadway producer, Alexander Cohen. When Alex suddenly died, it was held up in two-year contracts. Gerry Cohen, the brilliant TV director, then produced and directed my next play, Becoming Adele, which had won the Key West Theater Festival Award. He did an amazing job. It got rave reviews in LA and was optioned by Warner Bros. Television.
I then worked in Hollywood for a bit, but my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. In order to move back to New York City to be closer to family, I began ghostwriting. The Lost Artist: Love Passion War (Part 1) is the first book I’ve written in my own voice and name, which was the hardest writing I’d ever done. It felt like the absence of a voice. But I got used to it, and it really helped me get over that hurdle.
2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?
A quiet place in the afternoon with no internet.
3: Where do your ideas come from?
They always seem to come when I’m not looking. One of my biggest surprises was when I received an email from Einat Amitay saying, “You may not know this, but your father is very famous in Israel.” At first, I thought it was a scam, but as I read on she talked about a children’s book that my father had illustrated, And There Was Evening (Vayehi Erev, ויהי ער). I knew the book because my father had brought it back from his one trip to Israel in the early 90’s. In early 1948, he had turned in the illustrations right before leaving Palestine/Israel for New York City and never gave it any more thought.
When he showed me the book, he said in disbelief, “It’s a miracle. The book was actually published, and this one little bookstore I happened to walk into somehow got the leftover copies from the 1950’s printing.”
I told Einat that during our first Skype conversation. She laughed, saying, “He could’ve walked into any bookstore and found it. It’s everywhere.” It never crossed his mind that the book could have had more than one printing, much less become a bestseller and timeless classic, now in its 42nd edition, referred to as “the pearl of Israeli children’s literature.” After a sixty-year ongoing search for the artist, Einat, while dying of breast cancer, had joined the mission and, against all odds, finally solved the mystery.
I knew my father had a remarkable story, but I felt too far removed to write it. Besides what he told me, what did I know about the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany, Palestine before the State of Israel, WW II’s North African Campaign, the No. 2 Commando, etc.? But the story was now too much for me to resist.
4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?
I always like to have an idea of the three acts, beginning, middle and end, before I start writing, but that’s just a rough blueprint. The characters tend to take over. I wouldn’t want to make them do anything false just to move the story in a certain direction. Since my father’s story is a memoir, it was just a matter of realizing it. His story is incredible enough. I didn’t want to alter any of the facts.
5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?
I love great novels and biographies, such as Dr. Zhivago and The Agony and the Ecstasy (even with its inaccuracies). They pull me into the history, pushing me to find out more. I felt that my father’s story had that potential, and there was nothing else quite like it.
The history of Israel is important to me. It’s a part of my father story. But the Middle East crisis affects us all. I was hoping that the reader could experience this important history through his remarkable journey. Perhaps most of all, I wanted to write a book that I would love to read.
6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?
In my opinion, the actor to play my father hasn’t been born yet. In truth, it would just be very strange for me to watch an actor playing my father.
However, for the part of Einat Amitay, any of these actors would be terrific:
Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Hilary Swank, Kate Winslet, Emma Stone, Angelina Jolie, Drew Barrymore, Michelle Williams, Naomi Watts, Rebecca Hall, Keira Knightley, Cate Blanchett, Marion Cortillard, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Jessica Parker, Amy Adams… to name a few.
7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?
I rarely go anywhere without a book. The authors that had the most influence on me early on were probably Jane Austen, John le Carré, Daphne du Maurier, Graham Greene and Moss Hart, to name a few. Two I’ve recently discovered are Dov Zeller and Lara Lillibridge.
8: What book/s are you reading at present?
Commando: Winning WW2 Behind Enemy Lines by James Owen and Indianapolis by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic, about the sinking of the great American battle ship. I also recently had the chance to read two wonderful new writers: Dov Zeller’s The Right Thing To Do At The Time and Book of Hats and Lara Lillibridge’s Girlish.
9: What is your favourite book and why?
It’s amazing that Pride and Prejudice was written over 200 years ago. There are so many reasons why it’s a timeless masterpiece; perfect three-act structure (not coined until 1979 by Syd Field), compelling drama with characters you care about in unfair situations, brilliant dialogue that is always true to the characters, and, of course, her timeless sense of humor that flows so naturally from the characters.
10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?
Write shitty. Trying to write brilliantly can be paralyzing. Keep the bar low. Take the pressure off. Write shitty, and if you’re good, you’ll work at it until it’s done. So write shitty, and you’re sure to succeed.
11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?
From the pages of The Lost Artist: Love Passion War (Part 1)
Amidst all of this chaos, bombs, killing, starvation, there were artists creating children’s books. Did they even consider themselves artists? At the time, there was no Hebrew word for “illustrator.” They were just people who drew. She wondered how someone could even publish and distribute children’s books as if there were no war going on. And There Was Evening has no death. It is innocent and very humane, as were all Israeli children’s books of that time. They seemed to have understood that terrifying witches, giants, and monsters had no place for children in need of relief from the nightmare.
A few weeks after Fritz’s thirteenth birthday, he left the protection of his loving family in Germany to make the long trip alone to Palestine, not knowing when or if he would ever return. On the day of his arrival, the ‘Disturbances’ broke out as Arab revolutionaries attacked several buses transporting Jews. The Haganah (Underground Jewish paramilitary) retaliated while the controlling British tried to maintain order with an iron fist. At the Ben Shemen Youth Village, Fritz’s destination, teachers hid with children in shelters as Arab snipers shot at the school. The bus driver assured Fritz, “Not to worry. This happens. Welcome to the Promised Land.” Fritz showed no emotion. Having experienced the rise of the Nazi party, he was accustomed to living under constant threat.
The car signaled by flashing its lights three times. Haim signaled back with his flashlight. He then jumped on Amon and galloped to them. With only a crescent moon for guidance, Haim could just make out a darkly dressed woman and boy with a suitcase standing in the path. He pulled on the reigns of the harness whispering, “Whoa!” The boy and woman looked terrified as Amon came to a halt practically on top of them.
Without taking the time to comment on the horse, the woman whispered anxiously in Hebrew, “Do you speak Polish?”
“No,” Haim whispered back as he dismounted.
The woman continued, “You won’t understand each other then, but no matter. The less spoken the better. He has eaten but will need food in the morning. His cousin will pick him up here tomorrow at 10:00 am.”
Haim asked apprehensively, “In daylight?”
The woman nodded, “It is less suspicious for a woman and boy to travel then. She will have another boy’s papers in case they are stopped. We had no choice but to travel tonight as the British have begun searching homes along the coast.” Haim could just make out the silhouettes of other yolim in the car.
On the main road, he spotted the lights of a British patrol heading their way. To keep Amon quiet, he covered his eyes with a cloth while stroking his neck. The woman put an anxious arm around the boy’s shoulder as the lights of the patrol neared the path. If the patrol spotted the car, Haim was ready to put the boy on Amon and gallop off with him.
They held their breaths as the patrol slowly passed. Exhaling with relief, the woman determinedly whispered, “When you see his cousin, you will ask her if she is lost. She will say that she is looking for her little brother who has run away. Do not turn him over unless she says that. Do you understand?”
Haim nodded. As she turned to leave, Haim asked, “Can he ride a horse?” The woman asked the boy in Polish. The boy shook his head “no.” Haim shrugged, “It may be a good time to learn.”
The woman translated, and the boy looked up at Amon terrified. The woman advised, “He made it this far. Please don’t kill him now.”
“Not returning to Germany means losing everything. That was made clear when we received papers for this trip. And there are three good German families waiting like vultures to take over our home.”
Though Fritz had been determined not to fight, having listened quietly, he now asked, “So, you would die for a house?”
Julius snapped back, “Or we die of starvation in Italy, Palestine, America or God knows where! You think Germans are the only ones to hate Jews?! If we leave Germany now, we have nothing!”
Fritz argued, “You won’t starve! There are six thousand Swiss francs sitting in a bank account in Geneva! Take it and save yourselves!”
Julius was adamant. “That money is yours! It is your future! I will die before touching that!”
Fritz yelled back, “No, you and mother will die! I don’t need it. In Palestine, we share. If you don’t take it, I’ll give it away!”
Hearing that, Julius exploded, “Give it away? Give it away?! You will do no such thing! You are a child! I am your father! I am responsible for this family! You will do as I say! End of discussion!”
Fritz, seething, was silenced by Lotte’s glare as she shook her head at him. Julius, regaining his composure, attempted to lift the dark cloud engulfing the room. “Please. Things are not so dire. There are over half a million Jews in Germany. The Nazis cannot kill half a million Jews. And if it is any consolation, I promise, should things get any worse, mother and I will leave.”
Calming down, Fritz respectfully asked, “Have you considered the job on the Rothschild Estate in Palestine? Arabs and Jews live peacefully together there, so you’ll have no trouble with insurgents.”
Julius scoffed, “Communists! I should work the rest of my life for nothing, and then what?!”
Fritz assured, “You’ll be taken care of. And if you don’t like it, you can go back to Germany. View it as a holiday until all this passes over.”
Julius sardonically stated, “The Nazis have promised a thousand-year Reich. That is quite some holiday.”
Shells exploded around them as they fired their guns, discharging ear-piercing missiles back towards the enemy troops. When the barrage quieted down, they moved forward, surprised to receive no response from the enemy.
Making their way up to the wide, circular rim of the depression, there was still no shellfire. Believing to have the German troops in retreat, the plan was to cross the depression to go after them. But topping the rim and entering into the cauldron, the sky suddenly exploded.
Rommel, predicting their every move, had earlier fired the first barrage and quickly withdrew his forces beyond the depression’s far rim, causing the retaliating British shells to land on empty ground. Now ready and waiting, Rommel lured the British into a trap.
About the Author:
The Lost Artist author Eric Hausman-Houston has been a concert pianist, playwright, and ghostwriter.
As a concert pianist in the 1980s, Eric Hausman-Houston was offered a Julliard scholarship by Abbey Simon. He was signed by Global Records, who changed his name from Hausman to Houston. His first album, Beethoven Sonatas: Moonlight Pathetique Appassionata, received critical acclaim and won the Grammy for Best Producers. To promote his second album, Tonight and Forever, a collection of popular classical piano pieces, Houston went on a one hundred concert tour.
Responsible for all travel expenses, he went into debt. Planning to sit out his four-year contract, Houston wrote his first play, Playing with Fire. Playing with Fire was picked up by Earl Graham of the Graham Agency and optioned for Off-Broadway by Lois Deutchman, producer of Oil City Symphony. Houston never returned to the piano.
Houston’s play, Becoming Adele, the recipient of the Key West Theater Festival Award, was produced and directed by Gerry Cohen at the Court Theatre in Los Angeles, produced Off-Broadway by the Gotham Stage Company with director Victor Maog, and optioned by Warner Bros. Television. His play, Sweet Deliverance, was given an extended run at the Hudson Theatre in Los Angeles, and was the last play optioned by legendary Broadway producer, Alexander Cohen. Edward B. Morgan of Washington County News called Sweet Deliverance “the funniest play to come out of the Barter Theatre.”
After having worked as a ghostwriter, The Lost Artist marks Houston’s first book written in his own voice and name.
All proceeds from The Lost Artist will go to reuniting Fred Hausman’s Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), and other medals stolen from within the British Ministry of Defense, with their rightful owners. The Hausman medals will then be donated to an orphanage in Israel so that they may sell the Hausman medals to a museum.
Join in the journey of an incredible young man and the determined woman who would not give up her search for him.