As she was growing up in Oelwein, Iowa, Peladija Woodson-Diers listened to her parents’ stories about their lives. She became so fascinated by their experiences during WWII, she began voice recording their stories. Eventually she decided to share with others her parents’ incredible and tumultuous journey. The result was Triumph Over Destiny published in 2014, which repeatedly earns four- and five-star ratings by Amazon readers.
Karoline Rink lived in the small Alpine village in Bleiberg, Austria. In 1938, she worked alongside her father in the lead mines. Woodson-Diers tells how her mother at age 15 was forcibly kidnapped from her home by the Nazis. After she was taken, Karoline was placed as a laborer in a large restaurant in Germany, and eventually earned enough privileges to meet and marry a Nazi Luftwaffe pilot. They had two daughters and lived in Germany until her husband, Hinrich, died of tuberculosis in 1944. Karoline continued to live with his parents after Hinrich’s death. After the war ended, she eventually met and married a former Yugoslavian POW, Djura. Djura’s and Karoline’s love affair and turbulent journey continued on long after the war ended in 1945. They eventually emigrated to Oelwein, Iowa, in 1951, where Woodson-Diers was born.
“My parents were simple Christian folks who immigrated to the United States after surviving the Second World War,” Woodson-Diers writes in her biographical note. “My father would find himself working two and three jobs at the same time to make ends meet, and to make a new life for me and my family in the United States. Both he and my mother hoped that someday we would have a better life than they had and be blessed with opportunity. My mother was a true believer in destiny. She told me destiny would play a significant role in my life, even if I tried to wish it away.”
“I never dreamed I could be an author or ever imagined writing a book. That is until I began listening to my mother and father’s stories,” Woodson-Diers adds. “I was in awe then and continue to be now. They were lucky enough to have survived all the misfortunes that took place during and after the war. My mother taught me much about humility, kindness and the importance of family; and my father about hard work, determination, honesty and integrity. Their courage inspired me to write the book, and if not for them, I probably would have never pursued such an endeavor. Triumph Over Destiny was very difficult and emotional to write, but I felt their story had to be told.”
The author hopes to have Triumph Over Destiny translated into German. The book ends with the couple’s emigration, and Woodson-Diers plans to write a sequel about her parents’ life in America.
“Our life in America is really a separate story,” said Woodson-Diers. “Even though we were in America, life wasn’t easy. I’ve had many people ask and want to know more about our family’s story, and I plan to write a sequel.”
After earning her bachelor’s degree at UIU, Woodson-Diers received a master’s in social work and today is a licensed independent social worker. She continues her book tour and discusses her book at numerous area libraries.
Triumph Over Destiny also can be found at online retailers in paperback or ebook form.