When WWII broke out in 1939 Gisela Zebroski’s privileged childhood came to an abrupt end. The Soviet Union took over Latvia, the country of her birth. Her parents, destined for deportation, fled to Germany and settled in Poland.
In 1945 the family fled again from the approaching Red Army. Her father had been drafted and was missing in action. Her mother and four siblings survived air raids and found safety in Austria.
In 1954 she immigrated to California where she married an American scientist who inspired her to go to college. She graduated with a degree in psychology and minors in creative writing, history and philosophy. Her two novels, THE BARONESS and MEPHISTO WALTZ, recount the world of her past.
Her own story is a work in progress under the title of SELFIE SIDEWAYS.
The Berlin Airlift, the Candy Bomber and I
In 1948 Stalin blocked all land access routes to the city of Berlin. That left 2 million Berliners and 8,000 occupation forces without sustenance. A forceful breakthrough of the blockade could have ignited WW III. Instead, Harry Truman ordered: “We shall stay! Period.”
On June 25, 1948 General Clay established an airlift: Operation Vittles. Over the following 11 months American and British bombers became transport aircraft that flew 300,000 missions and delivered 2.3 million tons of supplies. This operation deterred Stalin’s invasion of Berlin and Western Europe.
The speech covers some of the details and historical background that led to the Iron Curtain and the Cold War. The story concludes in 1989 with an eyewitness account of what could have been a full-scale military crackdown that killed the people climbing over The Wall.
PARTIAL LIST OF PREVIOUS SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS:
- Author Series, Foothill College
- Rotary Clubs (District 5130): Rohnert Park
- Rotary Clubs (District 5150): Foster City, Ignacio, Mission San Rafael, Belmont/Redwood Shores, San Rafael Harbor, Sausalito, Tiburon-Belvedere
- Rotary Clubs (District 5160): Vallejo, Solano Sunset, Pleasanton North
- Rotary Clubs (District 5170): Mountain View, Almaden Valley, Los Gatos, Scotts Valley, Los Gatos Morning, Campbell, Niles/Fremont, Los Altos, San Leandro, Milpitas, Fremont, Los Altos Sunset, San Mateo Sunrise, Milpitas, Saratoga
- Book signing: The Forum Los Altos
- SIR (Sons in Retirement) Branches 58 Petaluma, 35 Los Altos/Palo Alto, 147 Petaluma, 22 Ignacio Pacheco (San Rafael), 1 San Mateo, 68 San Rafael
- Book Club, Los Gatos
- Charter 100 Club, SF
- Book Club, Palo Alto
- Book Signing: Los Altos Main St. Café and Books
- Kiwanis Clubs of Healdsburg and San Jose
“Gisela has a wonderful story. She is engaging and personable and a pleasure to listen to. The story is an autobiographical testimony to what happens when good people get together to do good things. Additionally, very few people today remember the situation or the time. No-one has a clue for history, yet Gisela brings forth a real life adventure.”
~ Denny Weisgerber, Program Chair, Rotary Club of Milpitas
“Gisela has a unique premise in her presentation …that everyone has a story in their life. And every story presents the listener (reader) with a unique vision of how life is …from the perspective of another person. Gisela has many unique visions to share. Book her! You won’t be disappointed.”
~ J.D. Miller, Program Chair, Rotary Club of Vallejo
“Gisela did a great job of making an historical event relevant to now. She did this by sharing her own personal experiences during this period of time. This is the way we make the past meaningful to the Future.”
~ Richard Zanotti, Little Sir, Sons in Retirement Branch #147 Petaluma
“I thought the presentation was very interesting. We hear a lot about WW2 and the camps, but very little about the post war refugee situation in divided Germany. I got a better appreciation for President Harry Truman. The information was new to me and by the questions that were asked, new to most of our club members.”
~ Ken Schwaderer, Program Chair, Mountain View Rotary Club
“Very interesting and informative. Gisela was professional and engaging. I learned something about the post-WWII struggles in Berlin that I did not know about.”
~ John Kitchin, Program Chair, San Mateo Sunrise Rotary Club
“I personally learned a lot from the presentation. Gisela was engaging and did a great job of communicating the feelings she and her family experienced. She was passionate and ‘real’ in her style. This to me is always the sign of a good presenter.”
~ Jennifer Reed, Program Chair, Rotary Club of San Leandro
“You’ll love the story of the candy bomber. It’s the past coming back in the form of American pride big time.”
~ Dick Scoppettone, Program Chair, Scott’s Valley Rotary Club
“She was very well received and stayed for quite awhile after the meeting talking to some members and selling some books. I would highly recommend her.”
~ Jerry Cummings, Program Chair, Rotary Club of Campbell