Thomas Toren experienced more horror, loss, and change in his life than most.
When he was just six, his mother was arrested for ‘Rassenschande’ and imprisoned by the Nazis. Young Thomas would not see her again until he was almost thirty. He did not know who his father was, and the man who raised him was cold and distant. His older half-sister grew up to be an unkind, egotistical person who betrayed him and his beloved wife, Lisa.
He was born in Berlin in 1931. He was expelled from two German primary schools because of his stepfather’s Jewish surname. From age seven, he was raised by two women in the Russian immigrant community of Harbin, China, where he finished a Russian high school at the top of his class. Having spent his formative years there and suspecting that his biological father was either Russian or Polish, Toren considers himself Russian.
This all seemed perfectly normal to the young man. Toren’s explanation: “children accept everything as normal. Only in hindsight, after acquiring some life experience and wisdom, are we able to understand and analyse our childhood.”
To escape the Soviet bloc, he managed to travel to Israel, where he married his lifelong love, Lisa. In these transitions, a bit of stability emerged. Toren had a long, successful career as a qualified mechanicalengineer and brilliant inventor. Now retired, Toren felt the urge to record the stories of his unusual life, during which he has experienced four cultures and observed many more. He’s called Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Australia home at various times of his life. These intercontinental movements were not by choice; they were imposed as a result of political upheavals of the twentieth century.
Toren knows that life was not meant to be easy. Wishing and hoping is not enough. Determination and perseverance are essential. A bit of luck also helps. Life has taught Toren an important lesson. He says: “We should learn to fully appreciate each one of our many blessings, which we normally take for granted. We tend to fully appreciate our blessings only in retrospect, after we have lost them!”