The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


A few days ago, I received an unexpected shipment from my publisher, McGraw-Hill. The box contained five copies of a new translation of Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach (SEPA) – a Polish language edition. I was unaware that this translation was in the works, and besides, SEPA is available in nine languages, so another translation, even an unexpected one in Polish, should have been no big deal. But this one was.

A little history. My mother, who is now in her mid-80s, was a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto. For those readers who are unaware of the history of the late 1930s and 1940s, the Warsaw ghetto was one of many dark episodes in the reign of the Nazis.

The Germans, with the complicity of many Poles, brutally herded Polish Jews into a ghetto in Warsaw, Poland, systematically starving and murdering them before shipping those who remained to the gas chambers.

My mother, a teenager at the time, escaped and returned to the ghetto each night, making her journey through sewers to find food for her mother and sisters. One night after she left the ghetto, the Nazis bricked off her escape route and she was blocked from returning. She never saw her mother and sisters again – they died in the concentration camps.

There’s a certain ironic symmetry to all of this. Had the Nazis (with the help of some Poles) killed my mother (and in subsequent years they never stopped trying – but that’s another story), I wouldn’t be here. SEPA never would have been written. And today, the book wouldn’t be available in Polish for college students and IT professionals throughout Poland.

The Polish readers of SEPA won’t know the back story. If they did, I hope they’d pause for just a moment to ponder how many other contributions never made it into the world because the men and woman who would have made those contributions were never born. A fascist regime, fueled by hatred, snuffed the lives of millions of their would-be parents.

Makes you think a bit about the fascist regimes and groups who are, at this very moment, working hard to recreate the hatred that led to the “dark episodes” the world experienced in the middle of the last century. They must not be allowed to succeed.