Los tres nombres de Ludka / The Three Names of Ludka
Los tres nombres de Ludka is based on the real story of the Polish children who found refuge in Barcelona in 1946. An investigative article of José Luis Barbería, published in May of 2008 for El País, revealed this little-known episode and opened the way for the reencounter of the orphaned children, stolen by Hitler.
Ludka is nine years old, only a few months ago her name was Hedda and before that she had still another name she does not remember. The girl belongs to a group of children of Polish origin who arrived in Barcelona in the spring of 1946. Boys and girls who had been seized by the Nazis to convert them into pure Aryan children, but who after the war were taken from one city to another as if they were lost luggage. The friendship of Ludka and Emma, the daughter of Isabel Andreu, an employee in the home where Ludka lives with the other children, will with time bring in a change in this silent and reclusive girl who only wishes to return to her adoptive mother and it will be vital for her to find a place where she can grow up.
Los tres nombres de Ludka is a novel for three voices: that of Ludka Nowak, her friend Emma Andreu and that of Emma’s mother, Isabel Andreu. The Spanish Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship have ruined Isabel’s life, she and her parents are living in a country where everything is prohibited and everything is a sin. And Isabel conceals a secret she cannot share with anybody.
𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘛𝘩𝘳𝘦𝘦 𝘕𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘓𝘶𝘥𝘬𝘢 is a novel that engages the reader in an epic tale of survivors forced to live in a time of tyranny and oppression, who despite the circumstances succeed in finding their place in the world and learn to live and fight for what they want.
It is a story of resistance in time of war and, above all, a tribute to the children who have suffered from history and are victims of being separated from their roots, of the feeling of not belonging anywhere because, like plants, they have been uprooted and placed in another land.
The facts are the framework, but fiction allows us to understand the human being, hence the importance of the characters, figures of flesh and blood. There are secondary but important characters such as Román Quílez, a member of the Political-Social Brigade, or Daniel, a communist and member of the Resistance. And of course Isabel, the seamstress who helps Wanda, how she develops and becomes again what and who she was. They all reflect the post-war landscape. They are characters who search for happiness through small breaches in order to carry on.
𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘛𝘩𝘳𝘦𝘦 𝘕𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘓𝘶𝘥𝘬𝘢 is a vibrant and moving novel of hope and resistance in a time of war; a plea to discover what is most universal and precious: one's own identity. It is a tribute to its protagonists, to all the children who have suffered in the course of history.
Historical memory is not something that leads us to nostalgia, far from it, but serves to build the present and project the future, as Almudena Grandes said. History repeats itself, not in the same conditions, but human beings are human beings and the pain that wars cause people is enormous.
In her novel Gisela Pou portrays historical characters such as Wanda Morbitzer and her husband Harry Tozer and many other fictional characters who she has based on her factual research, ranging from the Nazi Germany and the Sobibór extermination camp to communist Poland, the 1940s Paris and the post-war Barcelona.