The content of the novel reflects many events and personalities from real life. Licco, Berta, Salvator and many other of the characters in the novel are fictional, but are strongly inspired by real people from the author's family. Ilko Minev combines their experiences and feelings and portrays them in As Flowers Go.
The characters in real life
The real Licco was born in 1910. His wife and the love of his life Berta Hazan is the author’s aunt. They got married in 1939. Licco became a prisoner in a labor camp in Bulgaria in 1941. There he managed to film a short documentary film about the everyday life in the labor camp. This rare historical film was donated in 2015 by his family to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C and makes an essential part of the Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive.
Albert Goering met Ilko Minev’s father and offered his help to the whole family. Licco worked as an auto mechanic and owned “American Car Company”. When he was sent to the labor camp, he lost his company due to the fact that he was of Jewish background. Albert Goering prepared fake passports with visas to Turkey for Licco and Berta, as well as for Ilko Minev’s parents. Licco’s and Berta’s escape from Bulgaria led them to the ship Jamaique. There Licco wrote his diary in German. The author Ilko Minev decides to translate parts of his uncle’s diary and include them in his novel. After arriving in Brazil Licco and Berta continued their journey and reached the magnificent city Sao Paolo. There they started their new life full of hopes and opportunities. They established a company “Berimex”.
The real Salvator was Berta’s brother. In 1943 he was held captive in a labor camp in Bulgaria. During his service in the camp, he suffered from trepanning behind his ear. Trepanning is an injury in the skull. Salvator asked for permission to work in a safer environment because of his health condition. As an answer to his request he was brutally beaten up. As a result of that he died on May 13, 1943. His dream, which never came true, was to visit Brazil one day.
Read the blog to find out more about the characters in real life...