Getting Published or E-published/legal aspect
I am writing a brief memoir of coming to the US from Europe at war. In dealing with relatives of my father, as well as a few State Dept. officials, is it ok to give their actual names, 75 years after the events, or could a relative sue me, and I had better just use initials?
Manfred -- The answer to your query depends upon what you are saying about particular people, and whether you're quoting them. If you're quoting anyone, I'd recommend that you verify their quotes with them or with someone in a position to do so. In all likelihood, if you are not openly libeling or saying anything offensive about anyone, you're not going to have any problems, especially concerning events that are decades old. People can be incredibly sensitive, though, so you want to make sure that whatever you say about anyone is factual and verifiable, rather than speculative or based solely on opinion.
Another option is to change the names of anyone who (or whose relatives) could possibly be offended, and on your copyright page or introduction run a notice to the effect that "Certain names have been changed at the author's discretion." You don't have to offer any further reason than that.
BTW I've helped a number of people publish their memoirs independently; see
D. Patrick Miller, Publisher