Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Degree Name

Creative Writing (Nonfiction)

Department or School/College

Department of English

Committee Chair

Judy Blunt

Commitee Members

David Gates, Phil Condon


creative nonfiction, memoir, father-son, Germany, Canada


University of Montana

Subject Categories



Fred Eduard Gailus was born on April 26, 1944, in Memelland, a place that no longer exists. It was a tiny sliver of Germandom on the far eastern edge of Hitler’s outsized German Reich. When the Soviet Red Army swept through on their way to Berlin, to end World War Two and the reign of terror perpetrated by the German people, the homeland of my father’s ancestors was wiped off the map forever. Thanks to the courage and tenacity of his mother, Fred survived the largest forced migration in human history to marry young and raise a family of four children in Canada. Close Call With Nonexistence is a piercing memoir by Fred’s oldest son, Jeff, who is wracked by grief when Fred dies suddenly of a heart attack. At once poignant and comical, Close Call explores their troubled father-son relationship as Jeff tries to come to terms with his paternal relatives’ participation in the Holocaust and how the war affected his father.

Included in

Nonfiction Commons



© Copyright 2016 Jeff Gailus