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The mesmerizing account of a granddaughter's search for a World War II family history hidden for sixty years Growing up in Paris as the daughter of a German mother and an Irish father, Svenja O'Donnell knew little of her family's German past. All she knew was that her great-grandparents, grandmother, and mother had fled their home city of Königsberg near the end of World Wa The mesmerizing account of a granddaughter's search for a World War II family history hidden for sixty years Growing up in Paris as the daughter of a German mother and an Irish father, Svenja O'Donnell knew little of her family's German past. All she knew was that her great-grandparents, grandmother, and mother had fled their home city of Königsberg near the end of World War II, never to return. But everything changed when O'Donnell traveled to the city--now known as Kaliningrad, and a part of Russia--and called her grandmother, who uncharacteristically burst into tears. "I have so much to tell you," Inge said.  In this transporting and illuminating book, the award-winning journalist vividly reconstructs the story of Inge's life from the rise of the Nazis through the brutal postwar years, from falling in love with a man who was sent to the Eastern Front just after she became pregnant with his child, to spearheading her family's flight as the Red Army closed in, her young daughter in tow. Ultimately, O'Donnell uncovers the act of violence that separated Inge from the man she loved; a terrible secret hidden for more than six decades. A captivating World War II saga, Inge's War is also a powerful reckoning with the meaning of German identity and inherited trauma. In retracing her grandmother's footsteps, O'Donnell not only discovers the remarkable story of a woman caught in the gears of history, but also comes face to face with her family's legacy of neutrality and inaction--and offers a rare glimpse into a reality too long buried by silence and shame.


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The mesmerizing account of a granddaughter's search for a World War II family history hidden for sixty years Growing up in Paris as the daughter of a German mother and an Irish father, Svenja O'Donnell knew little of her family's German past. All she knew was that her great-grandparents, grandmother, and mother had fled their home city of Königsberg near the end of World Wa The mesmerizing account of a granddaughter's search for a World War II family history hidden for sixty years Growing up in Paris as the daughter of a German mother and an Irish father, Svenja O'Donnell knew little of her family's German past. All she knew was that her great-grandparents, grandmother, and mother had fled their home city of Königsberg near the end of World War II, never to return. But everything changed when O'Donnell traveled to the city--now known as Kaliningrad, and a part of Russia--and called her grandmother, who uncharacteristically burst into tears. "I have so much to tell you," Inge said.  In this transporting and illuminating book, the award-winning journalist vividly reconstructs the story of Inge's life from the rise of the Nazis through the brutal postwar years, from falling in love with a man who was sent to the Eastern Front just after she became pregnant with his child, to spearheading her family's flight as the Red Army closed in, her young daughter in tow. Ultimately, O'Donnell uncovers the act of violence that separated Inge from the man she loved; a terrible secret hidden for more than six decades. A captivating World War II saga, Inge's War is also a powerful reckoning with the meaning of German identity and inherited trauma. In retracing her grandmother's footsteps, O'Donnell not only discovers the remarkable story of a woman caught in the gears of history, but also comes face to face with her family's legacy of neutrality and inaction--and offers a rare glimpse into a reality too long buried by silence and shame.

30 review for Inge's War: A German Woman's Story of Family, Secrets, and Survival Under Hitler

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Journalist Svenja O'Donnell is of Irish and German descent, she writes a evocative biography of her German grandmother, Inge, originally from Konigsberg in East Prussia, now Kalingrad in Russia, and her experiences and bitter survival of WW2, during and after the war, including fleeing the Russian retribution that followed. Inge has been reticent of her personal history, keeping everything locked up inside, until Svenja calls her from Kalingrad, which results in an emotionally tearful response, Journalist Svenja O'Donnell is of Irish and German descent, she writes a evocative biography of her German grandmother, Inge, originally from Konigsberg in East Prussia, now Kalingrad in Russia, and her experiences and bitter survival of WW2, during and after the war, including fleeing the Russian retribution that followed. Inge has been reticent of her personal history, keeping everything locked up inside, until Svenja calls her from Kalingrad, which results in an emotionally tearful response, that leads her to connect with Svenja, and reveal the trauma and the harrowing life of suffering and starvation, endured by ordinary Germans. Svenja goes on to impeccably research the background of the war to place Inge's poignant, desperate, and heartbreaking story, of doomed love, loss, displacement, and the revelation of secrets kept buried for decades, in context. There are far fewer accounts of WW2 from the perspective of Germans who never agreed with Hitler, even less from German women who carried the greater burdens of the war, but for understandable reasons kept their thoughts private, given the savage violence and brutality of the Nazi regime. Many Germans remained silent over their real thoughts and opinions due to fear, only to carry the searing shame and guilt, both collective and personal, throughout their lives, a guilt and shame felt by their descendants. These ordinary Germans had the misfortune to live through one of the darkest and vilest periods of European history, they were the unacknowledged other victims of Nazism, forced to face a barrage of horrors and challenges of the war and its aftermath, such as death, starvation and disease, doing whatever they had to do to survive. Svenja relates her grandmother's story with compassion and empathy, Inge is a flawed woman with some very human failings, her personal history is related and documented in detail, it tells of the grim realities and the devastation wreaked on ordinary families and the population, the complexities of what war actually means, and more specifically what it entailed for German women and children. This is a moving and thought provoking must read from an author I can only admire in her search for the truth about her family. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Random House Ebury.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dem

    A beautifull and eloquently written non fiction book, of the author’s grandmother through the War years under Hitler, a story of family secrets and heartache that was an engrossing read from start to finish. What does it mean to be on the wrong side of history Svenja of Donnell’s grandmother has never spoken about the past. While her family knew she had grown up in Konigsberg in East Prussia, a city that no longer exists on modern maps she rarely spoke about her life before or during the w A beautifull and eloquently written non fiction book, of the author’s grandmother through the War years under Hitler, a story of family secrets and heartache that was an engrossing read from start to finish. What does it mean to be on the wrong side of history Svenja of Donnell’s grandmother has never spoken about the past. While her family knew she had grown up in Konigsberg in East Prussia, a city that no longer exists on modern maps she rarely spoke about her life before or during the war. When the author visits the city and phones her grand-mother to let her know, it unlocks something in her grandmother and she begins to revisit and recount the past to her granddaughter. I just loved every moment spent with this book, I love family history stories and especially ones where where women tell their war time stories. There are stories in all our ancestor’s pasts and personally I have enjoyed trying to unravel my own with quite a bit of success too but nothing worthy of a book. Svenja O Donnelley’s lyrical and vivid writing really brings this story alive. I have only read a few books that depict what ordinary German citizens and especially women faced during the war but this one really was captivating. The hard copy has photographs and maps which I always love in books as it adds a personal touch to the telling of a family history story. Quotes from Inge’s War..... Nothing can ever excuse the complicity of a nations people in the crimes committed in it’s name. But with every war come layers of suffering and only by acknowledging it can we ever stop the hatred from tearing people apart. A short read at just under 300 pages but a book that will stay with me a long time from now and another non fiction hard copy for my real life book shelf.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Esil

    Inge is the author’s grandmother. She grew up in East Prussia, which was part of Germany before and during WWII, and is now part of Poland. A few years before Inge died, O’Donnell broke through her grandmother’s silence and found out much of what happened to her during WWII and in the few years after. Silence was how Inge and her generation dealt with the atrocities Germany committed during the war and their own hardships in that time. O’Donnell broke through Inge’s silence with trepidation; she Inge is the author’s grandmother. She grew up in East Prussia, which was part of Germany before and during WWII, and is now part of Poland. A few years before Inge died, O’Donnell broke through her grandmother’s silence and found out much of what happened to her during WWII and in the few years after. Silence was how Inge and her generation dealt with the atrocities Germany committed during the war and their own hardships in that time. O’Donnell broke through Inge’s silence with trepidation; she did not know in advance on what side of history she would find her grandmother and other relatives stood. O’Donnell writes with compassion but historical realism about Inge’s life as a German teenager and young woman living through the war and after. I really liked how O’Donnell writes with self-reflection about Inge and the historical context. Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    The author, a French journalist stationed in Moscow, called one day her maternal grandmother, the eponymous Inge. On the phone, the voice of her grandmother, a woman she scarcely knew, trembled. Her grandmother tells her that she wants to talk to her, needs to talk to her, has important things to tell her--about her past! Their talks lead the granddaughter to seek out further information. Questions arise that beg to be answered. The result is this book. Inge’s life is extremely interesting. I dar The author, a French journalist stationed in Moscow, called one day her maternal grandmother, the eponymous Inge. On the phone, the voice of her grandmother, a woman she scarcely knew, trembled. Her grandmother tells her that she wants to talk to her, needs to talk to her, has important things to tell her--about her past! Their talks lead the granddaughter to seek out further information. Questions arise that beg to be answered. The result is this book. Inge’s life is extremely interesting. I dare you to read this and not be drawn in. Eastern Prussia is a spot on the map with a fascinating history. In unfolding her grandmother’s story, we learn of how both the First and the Second World Wars shaped the lives of those living in and around Königsberg, today part of Russia and known as Kaliningrad. History has relevance when we observe its consequences in human being’s lives. It is not dry, when we see what it does to people’s lives. The book informs readers of historical events on both a national and personal level. History is made engaging. People no longer stay fixed in one place. Political events cause us to move from one place to another. How do we / how should we relate to change? Where is home? Do we have just one home or can we feel a connection, a sense of home, in several places? These themes are central to the book. In today’s mobile world, these themes speak to many of us. I quote from the book: “I returned to France a week later, carrying the little handful of sand I had taken from the beach in Crantz. I took it to the small village cemetery where we had finally buried my grandmother’s ashes, a stone’s throw from the house where she had revealed her secrets to me. As I tipped the sand out on the grave, a gust of wind caught some of it spreading its grains across the hillside. It was a fitting epitaph, I thought, for a woman born in what was now Russia, who had lived her adult life in Germany, died in Poland and been buried in France, to share some of the land she had always kept in her heart. She had seen Europe implode and lived to watch its pieces be put back to together, imperfect, fragile, and slightly misshapen, like a mended piece of china.” Are you not curious to know why Inge lived in so many places? The quote gives you a feel for the author’s prose. In its emotive parts, the writing pulls the reader in. In those sections where historical facts are recounted, the writing is clear and concise. The author’s metaphors—one about suppressed thoughts being like a duvet popping out from a too small, confined place—are fun. Such metaphors enliven and add color to the prose. There are a few instances where the lines cause confusion, but they are not frequent and questions that arise are soon cleared up. I like very much, meeting here in this book, family members who strive to do their best in what must be classified as terrible situations. I like that the book focuses on ordinary German people and their suffering during the wars. Not every book about the Second World War need focus on the plight of the Jews; others suffered horribly too. The book shows that women, as well as men, are wars’ combatants. On closing the book, not all, but most of the essential questions are answered. What people say is often subjective, and views differ. There is a realism to this that feels right to me. Kristin Atherton narrates the audiobook very well. She speaks clearly and slowly, in a strong resonant voice. This is necessary if one is interested in absorbing the historical background information. The emotional parts are read with feeling. The narration definitely deserves four stars. ************************* If Inge's War: A German Woman's Story of Family, Secrets, and Survival Under Hitler interests you, A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary is another book you will want to read. It was originally published by an anonymous author. I gave it five stars.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Author Svenja O’Donnell is half German and half Irish, living in Paris, so has links around Europe. During most of her childhood, she was not particularly close to her elderly, cold and disapproving, German grandmother, Inge. However, it was a spur of the moment trip to Konigsberg, previously in East Prussia, where her grandmother was born, that led her to establish a closer relationship. Konigsberg was, O’Donnell was told by friends, not anywhere that tourists visited and, indeed, she was disap Author Svenja O’Donnell is half German and half Irish, living in Paris, so has links around Europe. During most of her childhood, she was not particularly close to her elderly, cold and disapproving, German grandmother, Inge. However, it was a spur of the moment trip to Konigsberg, previously in East Prussia, where her grandmother was born, that led her to establish a closer relationship. Konigsberg was, O’Donnell was told by friends, not anywhere that tourists visited and, indeed, she was disappointed by the town she found – modern, with wide streets, lots of traffic and a lack of visual beauty. Yet, when she spoke to her grandmother to tell her where she was, she heard the emotion in her voice. Ingeborg Gertrud Wiegandt was the beloved only child of Albert and Frieda. They had a comfortable and secure life. Albert was a wine and spirits importer. Frieda a housewife. Together, they gave their daughter a loving home life – she was indulged, a little spoilt, and, on Friday, her father would leave his office and take her to a café for hot chocolate. Into this life of little treats, love and attention, war came to change things. Neither Albert, not Frieda, supported the Nazi party – they were, the author states, “the people whose disagreement was quiet or unspoken.” Yet, it is obvious that O’Donnell is uncomfortable when she writes that Albert brought a house from one of the 3,170 Jewish citizens still in the town in 1933, when the Germans come to power, and that Inge still struggled with guilt at her inability to recall the name of a Jewish girl, forced to leave her education, as laws gradually limited the freedom of those for whom the Nazi presence was felt as a cold, menacing shadow, invading every aspect of their lives. The author listens to her grandmother’s stories and begins to try to investigate on her own. What happened to her grandmother, after war was declared and she left for Berlin to study at Lette Haus, a college for young woman in Berlin. Who was the man she loved and what happened to a young couple, whose life was interrupted by war? This is a moving and interesting read. O’Donnell tells the story of her grandmother with respect and honesty. It is about people who experienced all the ordinary ups and downs of life, but in a time which made the ordinary dangerous and difficult. Even going dancing could result in trouble, if ‘degenerate’ Swing music was heard – meaning that guards had to be posted at the doors, so that those dancing could switch to a more sedate foxtrot, at any hint of danger. Overall, this is an excellent choice for anyone interested in social history, the history of women or WWII in general. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I have read many books regarding WW2 but not a biography and not an account of how the Germans suffered in these times. Svenja O’Donnell a journalist, tells us the story of her grandmother who lived in Konigsberg in East Prussia. The town know ones knows of today. Living in a normal German family is the story of what atrocities and hardships they endured. When she goes and visits the town, she finds out from her grandmother Inge what happened. This is a beautifully written story that flowed easily I have read many books regarding WW2 but not a biography and not an account of how the Germans suffered in these times. Svenja O’Donnell a journalist, tells us the story of her grandmother who lived in Konigsberg in East Prussia. The town know ones knows of today. Living in a normal German family is the story of what atrocities and hardships they endured. When she goes and visits the town, she finds out from her grandmother Inge what happened. This is a beautifully written story that flowed easily. From the jazz clubs of Berlin to gaining asylum in Denmark. While the men went off to war how the women and children survived. From the women taking men’s work, while other women and children dying from starvation. This story everyone should read as it shows that it was not just the Jews that suffered in Germany and Poland, but the Germans were too. Not everyone in German was with Hitler and because of that many were ostracized and shunned. 5 stars from me.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kayla TM

    The shame of what occurred in Germany during World War II has hidden in the recesses of Svenja O’Donnell’s family for two generations since her grandmother, Inge, fled East Prussia with her parents and young daughter. This is an examination of the lives of the German people during the war, and the way the guilt over what had happened followed the people throughout their lives. This book does a wonderful job of representing the German people during such a tumultuous time. The story of what Inge e The shame of what occurred in Germany during World War II has hidden in the recesses of Svenja O’Donnell’s family for two generations since her grandmother, Inge, fled East Prussia with her parents and young daughter. This is an examination of the lives of the German people during the war, and the way the guilt over what had happened followed the people throughout their lives. This book does a wonderful job of representing the German people during such a tumultuous time. The story of what Inge endured, from being a teenage girl at the beginning of the war to the ninety year old woman finally able to tell her story. I enjoyed the personal tale, but the book is enhanced by all of the research that went into it to make it more relevant to the German people in general. There is a lot of heart, thought, and hard work that went into this story, and it really shows. I only wish the ending had been a little less drawn out. Definite 4 stars. Thanks to the publisher and goodreads for my copy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Heather Love

    Thank you Svenja O’Donnell for having the courage, strength and determination to research and bring together this heartfelt memoir about your family, in particular your grandmother, Inge. I applaud you. The way O’Donnell delivers this unforgettable story about survival, family, friendship and resilience is outstanding. She sympathetically weaves in the harrowing detail of her grandmother’s life during WW2, bringing together an unquestionably captivating account, of events so inhumane, you cannot Thank you Svenja O’Donnell for having the courage, strength and determination to research and bring together this heartfelt memoir about your family, in particular your grandmother, Inge. I applaud you. The way O’Donnell delivers this unforgettable story about survival, family, friendship and resilience is outstanding. She sympathetically weaves in the harrowing detail of her grandmother’s life during WW2, bringing together an unquestionably captivating account, of events so inhumane, you cannot believe them to be true, so horrific. What with the SS brutality and the Red Army and Danish retaliation the result was the most terrifying example of evil ever known. Hundreds of thousands of men, woman and children were either massacred, froze to death, starved or died of not an epidemic but treatable diseases that the Danes wouldn’t treat. A simple lack of care and neglect. Mass rape, pillage and destruction. However, this is also a story of love, family, endurance, self-sacrifice and survival against the odds. I went from weeping to smiling to weeping throughout this memoir, it was startling, chilling and heartfelt. Inge survived the atrocities of this war and lived to the grand old age of 93. Dignified. O’Donnell shared glimpses of a life of privilege and affection. Inge was petulant, indulged and a little spoilt to a certain extent as a child, born to older parents, however what she experienced and had to endure even before the age of 22, was woeful, absolutely despicable. I would like to have learnt more about Vati, Inge’s husband, about how they met. Inge was born in what is now Russia, had lived her adult life in Germany, died in Poland and was buried in France, so how did she meet Vati, who was younger and loved her child as his own? What was most shocking, as well as orchestrating the death of millions of Jews was how Hitler and the SS treated German citizens. They could be detained indefinitely, without trial, in protective custody or concentration camps, if they didn’t do what the Fuhrer wanted them to do, such as the salute. Just taken away and murdered. If seen to be undermining the war effort the authorities executed their German soldiers, numbers of around 20,000. Civilians suffered a similar fate, the numbers even worse. The mere telling of a joke at a Nazis’ expense, could result in execution. Unbelievable! A monster. ‘Inge was given no time to make her peace with the things she had lost: childhood, ambition and love. Flight denies the luxury of time and does not allow for reflection. I suppose she only had two options: to give in to emotion and give up, or to put the past behind her and move on. It was a mindset that forged her future self: her ability to survive, always moving forward and never allowing herself to look back.’ Most definitely a recommend from me. You need to read this book. Thank you to the author, Svenja O’Donnell, Netgalley, Penguin Random House and Ebury Publishing for this fabulous ARC provided in exchange for this unbiased review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paul Lockman

    My grandmother’s life was not one of innocence or guilt. It was one of extraordinary events, of the things we do to survive, and how they shape our lives. What would I have done in wartime? Growing up in a Europe at peace, I always thought I’d known the answer, confidently imagining myself among those would stand up and be counted. Only now do I understand what was meant by Thomas Nagel’s phrase, ‘moral luck’, which casts doubt on whether we can judge actions influenced by events beyond an indiv My grandmother’s life was not one of innocence or guilt. It was one of extraordinary events, of the things we do to survive, and how they shape our lives. What would I have done in wartime? Growing up in a Europe at peace, I always thought I’d known the answer, confidently imagining myself among those would stand up and be counted. Only now do I understand what was meant by Thomas Nagel’s phrase, ‘moral luck’, which casts doubt on whether we can judge actions influenced by events beyond an individual’s control. I was engrossed in When Time Stopped: A Memoir of My Father's War and What Remains by Ariana Neumann when I read it a couple of months ago and Inge’s War in my opinion is just as good. Another excellent debut novel - sure the author is a journalist by trade so has honed her craft over many years, but it is very impressive nonetheless. I mention When Time Stopped simply because both are the author’s account of their family histories and both skilfully weave in some historical facts with a vivid description of the era and how it affected their loved ones. In Inge’s War, Svenja O’Donnell tells us about her grandmother Inge and her life, initially in Konigsberg, East Prussia as a teenager just as WWII breaks out. Inge has been somewhat aloof to Svenja and the rest of the family most of her life but when Svenja calls her in 2006 and tells her she is actually in Kalingrad (previously known as Konigsberg), she can hear Inge crying down the line and this is the beginning of Inge opening up about her life and a slow, gradual unburdening of some closely guarded secrets. With its many references, footnotes, an index and a bibliography, you could be excused for thinking the book is academic in nature, perhaps a PhD thesis. It’s clear that Svenja O’Donnell has done a substantial amount of research. What made it a five star read for me was not necessarily the amount of background information and investigation that has gone into it and how educational it is, but more that it is simply an engaging and beautifully written tale about an ordinary German teenager and her family in East Prussia and the impact the war has on them. This is a great contribution to the steadily increasing body of work about WWII told mostly from women’s perspectives. My grandmother’s story taught me a lesson I will carry with me for the rest of my life. That the imperative to survive can bring with it difficult choices, which don’t always come out well in their telling. That moving forward requires examining, understanding, and accepting those decisions. That memory cannot be forever buried, but must be given space to evolve with time, for the past is a moving target.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Donna Lewis

    This book is author Svenja O’Donnell’s 10-year journey to discover her grandmother’s history in East Prussia and Germany during WWII. East Prussia/Konigsberg in the 1920s was provincial and conservative. O’Donnell’s teenaged mother preferred Berlin’s night life and jazz scene. She and most Germans were not affected by the small percent of the population that belonged to the rising Nazi party, “although the zealous believers still numbered enough to achieve total control. Retribution, even for pa This book is author Svenja O’Donnell’s 10-year journey to discover her grandmother’s history in East Prussia and Germany during WWII. East Prussia/Konigsberg in the 1920s was provincial and conservative. O’Donnell’s teenaged mother preferred Berlin’s night life and jazz scene. She and most Germans were not affected by the small percent of the population that belonged to the rising Nazi party, “although the zealous believers still numbered enough to achieve total control. Retribution, even for party members, was swift, and brutal violence became normalized.” People found it safer to say nothing in public and to keep their opinions to themselves. After the war began, it became increasingly difficult to ignore what hey did not want to see. There was a feeling of helplessness and fear of retribution. “Reports of atrocities committed against Jews and Soviet civilians out east, and the existence of camps where mass murder was being committed started to filter through.” Their shame was “expressed through silence.” Later we find that the privations were felt by the women, children, and old people. There were food and fuel shortages. Citizens forced to leave bombed cities became refugees. Rape became common, even after the end of the war. As refugees, German children were not treated by doctors and thousands died of treatable diseases, malnutrition and starvation. Women and children in war are always the ones to suffer the pain and are forced to to whatever they can to survive. Collective guilt and shame or individual guilt and shame. “But with every war come layers of suffering, and only by acknowledging it all can we ever stop hatred from tearing people apart”

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Inge’s War is a superbly nuanced reclamation of history and family secrets. With much empathy and skill, Svenja O’Donnell gives us a long withheld, powerful true story of love and suffering on the wrong side of the battle lines in World War II. It’s a timely reminder that a nation’s politics and people are not precisely one and the same, that the innocent are sometimes punished for collective sins so great, they cannot properly be punished, and that women, across ages and cultures, have silently Inge’s War is a superbly nuanced reclamation of history and family secrets. With much empathy and skill, Svenja O’Donnell gives us a long withheld, powerful true story of love and suffering on the wrong side of the battle lines in World War II. It’s a timely reminder that a nation’s politics and people are not precisely one and the same, that the innocent are sometimes punished for collective sins so great, they cannot properly be punished, and that women, across ages and cultures, have silently borne the brunt of war in ways we are only beginning to reckon with.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Julie - One Book More

    https://onebookmore.com/2020/04/27/ar... Svenja O’Donnell knows little of her aloof grandmother’s past, and it isn’t until O’Donnell tells Inga that she traveled to Konigsberg, Inga’s childhood home, that Inga feels compelled to tell her story. Gradually, O’Donnell learns of her grandmother’s past and the secrets that Inge kept for over sixty years. Inge is a private, somewhat selfish, and distant woman who occasionally spoke of an idyllic childhood with her parents as well as her schooling in Ber https://onebookmore.com/2020/04/27/ar... Svenja O’Donnell knows little of her aloof grandmother’s past, and it isn’t until O’Donnell tells Inga that she traveled to Konigsberg, Inga’s childhood home, that Inga feels compelled to tell her story. Gradually, O’Donnell learns of her grandmother’s past and the secrets that Inge kept for over sixty years. Inge is a private, somewhat selfish, and distant woman who occasionally spoke of an idyllic childhood with her parents as well as her schooling in Berlin. But Inge never spoke of her doomed love affair with O’Donnell’s biological grandfather, a man no one in the family knows. What caused the relationship to end? What happened to Inge’s love? Why didn’t they end up together, as planned, after the war? The more that Inge reveals, the more questions her granddaughter has about the lies, betrayal, abuse, and sacrifice Inge suffered during and after the war. O’Donnell uses her skills as a journalist to research and fill in the blanks of Inge’s complex and captivating story. While conducting her research, the author finds family photographs, documents, letters, and even a recipe, which she included in the book, providing added clarification and visual context to the story. O’Donnel, when recounting Inge’s story, says that she thought people during the war were “divided into either the good, who resisted, or the bad, the perpetrators.” She never really considered the people “whose disagreement was quiet or unspoken, those who, for want of heroism or even simple courage, chose to look the other way…” I found this concept interesting, as books often focus on the heroes and the villains but not the people in between – ordinary people who live in fear and helplessness but don’t have the power or courage to invoke change. “Though hers was a story of violence and displacement, it was one shared by many women who became collateral damage in the wreckage of Europe’s collapse.” Inge’s War examines the horrors that women, in particular, are subjected to during war including violence, rape, abandonment, and more. It also shows the resilience of people like Inge and her family who do what they must to survive, which in their case means fleeing the only home they’ve ever known to rebuild their lives in another, safer country. This is a powerful, poignant, and thought-provoking book that offers a fresh and unique perspective on World War II Germany and one woman’s search for the truth. I'm so glad I won it in a Goodreads Giveaway!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Meg Lelvis

    It's been a long time since I've been so engrossed in a book. I listened to the audio, and the narrator is excellent, with a pleasant accent. This narrative offers a different slant on the WWII experience, telling the true story of a young girl coming of age in 1930s East Prussia, and her tale of love, secrets, and survival. The book describes events reflecting ordinary citizens living in relative isolation until later when the war continues its path in the east. It also describes the plight of It's been a long time since I've been so engrossed in a book. I listened to the audio, and the narrator is excellent, with a pleasant accent. This narrative offers a different slant on the WWII experience, telling the true story of a young girl coming of age in 1930s East Prussia, and her tale of love, secrets, and survival. The book describes events reflecting ordinary citizens living in relative isolation until later when the war continues its path in the east. It also describes the plight of the thousands of German refugees after the war who had fled to Denmark for a short-lived santuary. Themes of collective guilt, denial, and what people must do to survive make this a fascinating, thought-provoking true story. Highly recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eden

    2020 bk 234. The story of the author's grandmother survival and journeys at the end of World War II. I had never seen the story of the German's who lived in what was considered East Prussia - the Danzig Corridor at the end of WWII. The area, according to the author, is now almost virtually empty of the German heritage of the area, with very few folks of German ancestry left there. Her grandmother, with a small child and her parents managed to get themselves onto a train, then ship, then to walk 2020 bk 234. The story of the author's grandmother survival and journeys at the end of World War II. I had never seen the story of the German's who lived in what was considered East Prussia - the Danzig Corridor at the end of WWII. The area, according to the author, is now almost virtually empty of the German heritage of the area, with very few folks of German ancestry left there. Her grandmother, with a small child and her parents managed to get themselves onto a train, then ship, then to walk to Denmark. From Denmark, they then made it to the area around Kiel, Germany where they settled. This is the story of war and what it does to the civilians who cannot be exempt from its horrors. O'Donnell has done an excellent job of crafting her grandmother's story and showing how what had not been said had affected her family as much as what had been.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Linden

    The author's grandmother's life as a teenager in Germany, and her displacement from East Prussia as the Russians invaded toward the end of the war. The author's grandmother's life as a teenager in Germany, and her displacement from East Prussia as the Russians invaded toward the end of the war.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Ann

    I received this book from Goodreads for an honest opinion. I so want to give this book 3.5 stars.. not 3. It is well written, tells of the hardships endured by a family that was physically distanced from the center of Nazism. I admit to a great bias: my family history, my constant search for "how could people let this happen" , my conjunctive reading of The Brothers of Auschwitz by Malka Adler... O'Donnell's book was a 'pleasant' read until the end of the war, when they dealt with loss, taunting I received this book from Goodreads for an honest opinion. I so want to give this book 3.5 stars.. not 3. It is well written, tells of the hardships endured by a family that was physically distanced from the center of Nazism. I admit to a great bias: my family history, my constant search for "how could people let this happen" , my conjunctive reading of The Brothers of Auschwitz by Malka Adler... O'Donnell's book was a 'pleasant' read until the end of the war, when they dealt with loss, taunting, cold, food lack, bitter conditions, and death. I would challenge other reviewers to now read Adler's book . It will take courage. It too tells of what they dealt with post war. EVERYONE suffered.. victims, victimizers, and the apathetic. That is the take I get from Inge's War... . Perhaps the underlying message for me is never let this happen. Don't let it happen again.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Verna Carre

    The will to survive presents difficult choices, as the author states. Although, another book about WW2, this book tries to capture how Germans survived a war and a regime they did not support. They were deeply affected, suffered and tried to survive. Often blamed wrongly for not stopping Hitler, their lives were not without hardships, danger and sometimes death. A good read explaining the struggle.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bagus

    Svenja O’Donnell grew up in France with an Irish father and a German mother. During her childhood, she was exposed to the stories at school about German atrocities in the Second World War, which brought shame to her about her partly German ancestry. She looked at her grandmother, Inge, who said that her family are not equal to the Nazis in a suspicious manner since her grandmother rarely spoke of her family’s past in Königsberg, the capital of East Prussia. A curiosity about the past locked deep Svenja O’Donnell grew up in France with an Irish father and a German mother. During her childhood, she was exposed to the stories at school about German atrocities in the Second World War, which brought shame to her about her partly German ancestry. She looked at her grandmother, Inge, who said that her family are not equal to the Nazis in a suspicious manner since her grandmother rarely spoke of her family’s past in Königsberg, the capital of East Prussia. A curiosity about the past locked deep inside her grandmother’s mind slowly began to open for the author as she called to her grandmother on one fine day, telling her that she’s calling from Kaliningrad — as the city is called now more than fifty years after the displacement that forced Inge to leave East Prussia. Partly family historical account and partly original field research, this book offers an interesting alternative viewpoint to the history of the Second World War. Many narratives have discussed the atrocities committed by the Nazis in the Holocaust and in the areas occupied by them in Central and Eastern Europe, but few told the stories of the displacement experienced by the Germans who lived in then-East Prussia. East Prussia, with its capital Königsberg, had an important history during the seven-century of its German settlement. The Junker, an important part of German nobility, possessed vast lands there. Königsberg, the capital, was the place that gave birth to Immanuel Kant. During the war, East Prussia managed to be one of the safest places in the Third Reich with its self-sufficient ability that kept the citizens nourished, while other German regions experienced shortages and daily rations. But the advance of the Red Army and the imminent defeat of the Wehrmacht in 1945 changed the landscape quickly. While reading this book, I got reminded briefly of Oskar’s account in Günter Grass’ The Tin Drum which chronicles the escape of the Germans from Danzig by train to the western part of Germany to avoid the capture of the city by the Red Army. But many from East Prussia did not have the chance to escape by train, as Pomerania and the areas around the Danzig Corridor fell earlier, isolating East Prussia further from east and west. The only passage west was by the sea, where Inge Wiegandt and her parents were forced to leave along with thousands of refugees. During the operation, the transport ship Wilhelm Gustloff was torpedoed by the Red Army, sinking her along with between 5,000 and 9,000 passengers, many of them civilians like Inge. It was by sheer luck that the Wiegandts managed to escape to the west in the ship Göttingen, in which the author emphasised that war does not care whether the displaced were rich or civilians, all of them could die anytime and anywhere during the dark times. Besides the flight, Svenja O’Donnell’s account of her grandmother’s attempt at survival also includes many aspects unwritten in the war. About rape, discrimination from her fellow Germans, and the betrayals from her lover who got sent to the Eastern Front amidst the difficult circumstances Inge was in. The difficult circumstances forced the soldiers to comply with their superiors, giving birth to the infamous Nazi atrocities, while the women like Inge were forced to keep silent as a way of coping with their difficult problems. The complexities of the war are something that the author only realised afterwards beyond the stereotype of ‘good Germans’ who resisted the Nazis by living in exile and ‘bad Germans’ who lent their support to Nazism. There were those who were silenced, who saw the neutral stance as an alternative to the gangster regime of Hitler but did not have any voice during and after the war as the political opinion is difficult to measure in a totalitarian state. I see this book as an intriguing discussion, to rethink the Second World War not as a ‘German War’, but rather as something equally damaging to the Germans themselves. After the war, millions of Germans from the east of the Oder-Neisse line faced displacement as a result of the Allies’ decision during the Potsdam Conference to cede eastern German territories including East Prussia to Poland and the Soviet Union. The displaced people then settled in East and West Germany, bringing with them stories of their lost home. The author’s attempt to address this issue through her research into family archives and countless field trips for ten years are superb. Inge’s story is only one of the stories that only recently being uncovered long after the war ended when the past wound could finally be seen in a different light by the current generation. It proves something that the present might be constantly changing the past, as more truths are discovered.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Donna Maguire

    https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/... This book has been one of my reading highlights of 2020 - the book is simply stunning and it took my breath away - it is so well written and the author does a superb job at bringing it all together and telling Inge's story - and I am so glad that she did! The book takes you take to a time where things were quite different, the scene setting is superb and you feel you are there with them.  The descriptions are vivid and so real.  I love this period in histor https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/... This book has been one of my reading highlights of 2020 - the book is simply stunning and it took my breath away - it is so well written and the author does a superb job at bringing it all together and telling Inge's story - and I am so glad that she did! The book takes you take to a time where things were quite different, the scene setting is superb and you feel you are there with them.  The descriptions are vivid and so real.  I love this period in history and it is so refreshing to get a book that tells it from such a different angle too.  I loved everything about it from cover to cover, it is one that really will stay with me and I have already recommended it over and over and will continue to do so - fabulous storytelling and history at its finest - it is a fabulous biography. It is without a doubt 5 stars from me for this one, it is so well written and reading it made it all come to life for me - very highly recommended, a brilliant book about a truly remarkable woman! 

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

    “The past is a moving target”. Given to me as part of our family’s Jolabokaflod (a great tradition btw!) this is a fascinating tale about an East Prussian family who lived through the rise and fall of Hitler and Nazi Germany. Much more than a wartime memoir, the book focuses on the author’s grandmother and is a beautifully written account of the author’s journey of discovery into her family’s past, the good, the bad and the ugly. This then is a story of extraordinary events and what is done to s “The past is a moving target”. Given to me as part of our family’s Jolabokaflod (a great tradition btw!) this is a fascinating tale about an East Prussian family who lived through the rise and fall of Hitler and Nazi Germany. Much more than a wartime memoir, the book focuses on the author’s grandmother and is a beautifully written account of the author’s journey of discovery into her family’s past, the good, the bad and the ugly. This then is a story of extraordinary events and what is done to survive them as best as one can. Highly recommended!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shelly

    A unique story about WW II told with integrity and excellent writing. Traverses life choices even when they are painfully honest.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    True stories are the most powerful stories, and this one is a stunning read. The sort of book that, if I wasn't stuck in lockdown, I'd have read on the train and missed my stop. Heartbreaking, moving, and important. True stories are the most powerful stories, and this one is a stunning read. The sort of book that, if I wasn't stuck in lockdown, I'd have read on the train and missed my stop. Heartbreaking, moving, and important.

  23. 4 out of 5

    David Jones

    This book was well written, and very interesting because it describes the consequences of one "ordinary" non-Nazi German family who lived through and beyond WWII. I was surprised that, for most of the Hitler era they lived mostly untouched and rather well. It was only toward the war's end, when the tide turned against the Nazi war machine, that this family's suffering and shattering began. A very sad story, but some might say, their suffering pales compared to Germany's enemies, particularly the This book was well written, and very interesting because it describes the consequences of one "ordinary" non-Nazi German family who lived through and beyond WWII. I was surprised that, for most of the Hitler era they lived mostly untouched and rather well. It was only toward the war's end, when the tide turned against the Nazi war machine, that this family's suffering and shattering began. A very sad story, but some might say, their suffering pales compared to Germany's enemies, particularly the Jews. To me, this read as an interesting family genealogy and a romance of lost love. I mean that in a nice way. I've done a lot of genealogic research into my family, and saw hints of many sad tales of broken dreams and families due to outside forces over which they had no control. How I wish I had taken the time to interview my own grandparents!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth Soane

    This was heartbreaking story of the History we never knew. The author tells the tale of her Grandmother Inge’s time during the Second World War. I covered the Second World War in GCSE’s and read The diary of Anne Frank but knew nothing about those people who lived in Germany during that time period. Inge gradually revealed her life story to her granddaughter who, as a journalist, further researched the story and this book was the result. It contains documents and photos from the family which add This was heartbreaking story of the History we never knew. The author tells the tale of her Grandmother Inge’s time during the Second World War. I covered the Second World War in GCSE’s and read The diary of Anne Frank but knew nothing about those people who lived in Germany during that time period. Inge gradually revealed her life story to her granddaughter who, as a journalist, further researched the story and this book was the result. It contains documents and photos from the family which add to the humanity of the story. Inge’s story touched me and the horror she lived through as a young woman in Nazi Germany who then became a mother. My view of this period of history has been forever changed by Inge’s story and I don’t think anyone will regret reading it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Margie

    My father's family also escaped from Konigsberg, though earlier, in 1935. After reading Inge's War, I have such regret that I did not learn more detail about their lives and escape before they passed away. We do have a diary from my grandmother offering a short account of the increasing threat to "non-Aryans" and their means of escape, but not nearly the detail Svenja O'Donnell has managed to learn. Inge's War filled in so many details - about life before, during and after the war in the homelan My father's family also escaped from Konigsberg, though earlier, in 1935. After reading Inge's War, I have such regret that I did not learn more detail about their lives and escape before they passed away. We do have a diary from my grandmother offering a short account of the increasing threat to "non-Aryans" and their means of escape, but not nearly the detail Svenja O'Donnell has managed to learn. Inge's War filled in so many details - about life before, during and after the war in the homeland of my father. Loved it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    I am puzzled as to why I felt uncomfortable with this book. I did not find it boring, or hard to keep reading. The pictures, mostly family ones were the best part of the book. They made me ask more questions that will never be answered. Inge tells her granddaughter something that would be very important if I was writing the book but it is placed out there without any explanation and the book never comes back to it. Inge's father buys a house from a Jewish fleeing Germany at the last moment and I I am puzzled as to why I felt uncomfortable with this book. I did not find it boring, or hard to keep reading. The pictures, mostly family ones were the best part of the book. They made me ask more questions that will never be answered. Inge tells her granddaughter something that would be very important if I was writing the book but it is placed out there without any explanation and the book never comes back to it. Inge's father buys a house from a Jewish fleeing Germany at the last moment and Inge says that she hopes that her father gave the man a fair price. That is tied to the important thing that Inge told her granddaughter. It is a clue but is it enough? It was interesting that Inge's family lived in a more isolated part of Germany, some in that area were disappointed that Hitler did not die of the assassination attempt but silently though "If only". That region identified with being East Prussia more than Germany. Also, I did not realize that the young people in Germany were enticed by jazz and swing. Goebbels thought Germany could create its own swing, Charley and His Orchestra. The music was America tunes with Nazi lyrics. It did not go over well with Hitler but Churchill was amused by it. One of major thoughts by the author was that she felt guilty researching and reading her families letters, that it was their story to tell. I had a similar feeling when after my mother died, reading my mother's and father's letters (a whole suitcase of them). I felt like I was intruding. That is one of the hazards of writing a family history so close in time. Maybe that is the reason that I feel uncomfortable reading this book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    c b henderson

    I’m absolutely captivated by world war 2 stories nd peoples struggles. Such suffering yet such amazing strength to live and tell the tales of such hardships. Fab read and highly recommend

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Inge's War: A German Woman's Story of Family, Secrets, and Survival Under Hitler was a fascinating, illuminating book about one woman's survival during Nazi Germany and how she and her family fled East Prussia as the Soviets invaded her home city. Interwoven with the author's research on Nazi Germany as well as research on her family and interviews with various family members, the books gives a vivid portrayal of one family's plight during this difficult time. The author also addresses German id Inge's War: A German Woman's Story of Family, Secrets, and Survival Under Hitler was a fascinating, illuminating book about one woman's survival during Nazi Germany and how she and her family fled East Prussia as the Soviets invaded her home city. Interwoven with the author's research on Nazi Germany as well as research on her family and interviews with various family members, the books gives a vivid portrayal of one family's plight during this difficult time. The author also addresses German identity and shame interwoven with the trauma that many people suffered under this regime. At times heartbreaking, this book tells the story of one family who came to terms with long-buried secrets, giving us a glimpse of what life was like on the 'other side' so to speak, when one's values clashed with the politics of one's government but felt helpless to do something about it. The story revolves around the author as she searches for answers to her family's past, in particular, her grandmother, Inge, who fled East Prussia and landed in Germany. She always felt growing up that so much of her grandmother's past had been hidden and as a journalist she was determined to discover more about her past. We get a fascinating look at how the author went about her research and then takes us back to before and during the war as she discovers secrets and truths both from her grandmother as well as archives. Interspersed between Inge's story line is information about the war and how it affected Inge and the people, with some very interesting facts thrown in. As a history teacher, I really enjoyed how the author included historical information about the war into the story and enjoyed learning about East Prussia and the plight of its citizens as it tends to be a bit neglected in literature. The human element though, was heartbreaking, which is why I could not rate this book. The author uses family photographs, passport photos, recipes, documents, and so on to add visual context to her story. I spent some time analyzing them as it really added to the story and made the author's family more real to me. I remember looking at similar pictures of my own family during this time period, and it brought home how really strong and courageous these women had to be to survive in such conditions; it really highlighted the plight of these people during the war. In her story, the author really began focusing on those people who were caught up in the war but who didn't have the power, or maybe the courage, to fight back against the horrors they saw every day. She spoke about apathy, questioning whether that was worse that siding with Nazism, a very difficult question to ask. And one of the fundamental questions she asked throughout the book, "Did you know about the Holocaust? the Death Camps?" I found her research about these questions to be quite honest and interesting. And as a woman, I have to say the part that affected me the most was definitely about the rapes. She laid the facts bare and they are downright awful, even affecting her own family history in a profound way. Sometimes when you go looking for the truth, you may not always like what you hear and find. At the back of the book, the author listed the sources she used to write her book, and I am definitely going to be doing some further reading, no matter how horrible the subject matter. Inge's War: A German Woman's Story of Family, Secrets, and Survival Under Hitler is a fantastic book, thought-provoking on so many levels, and heart-breaking to the core. The background information on the rapes, the horrors of those children dying in Denmark, the young men lost in senseless battles, are just some of the few things discussed in such a raw and unflinching manner, but also with empathy and skill. This is one my favourite books about WWII I have yet read this year, and I highly recommend this to anyone who likes reading personal stories about the war.

  29. 5 out of 5

    The Mare

    I've read an amount of books, both fiction and true life stories that took place during WWII, but this is the first I've read that is set in the former country known as Prussia, providing an insight into wartime lives and events that took place in this part of the world at this time. The tale is a true story, mainly recounted in the present day by Svenja O'Donnell herself, who seeks to find the truth behind Inge, her grandmother's subdued nature and reluctance to speak of her time during the war I've read an amount of books, both fiction and true life stories that took place during WWII, but this is the first I've read that is set in the former country known as Prussia, providing an insight into wartime lives and events that took place in this part of the world at this time. The tale is a true story, mainly recounted in the present day by Svenja O'Donnell herself, who seeks to find the truth behind Inge, her grandmother's subdued nature and reluctance to speak of her time during the war. We are first introduced to young Inge, who lives with her parents in Konigsberg, East Prussia, prior to the start of the war. She enjoys the best hot chocolate in town with her father every Friday at the 'Cafe Berlin' and she has no more childhood concerns other than outdoing her classmates at school. However, as she grows up we discover, as a typical teenager she begins to want to see more of the country she lives in and strives to experience more things, not always with her parents. She departs for Berlin to study at Lette Haus, a young college for women, where Inge wishes to follow her interests in fashion. However, as war begins so Inge's life begins to alter. As O'Donnell speaks to her grandmother in the present day, O'Donnell describes how it is at first difficult to develop a rapport with her grandmother about these times and get her to openly speak about them. However, over a course of time and encounters, Inge begins to describe the events of her life during the war and the unimaginable hardships she and her family encountered, yet survived. The events not only tell a tale around a suppressed love story, but also how such events during the war forced people to behave in a certain way, not always seemingly morally right, but often a means of sheer survival of such times. Inge and her family are eventually forced to flee Prussia, seeking rufuge in Denmark until the end of the war, finally managing to return to Germany, but not welcomed as the people they once were. O'Donnell recounts her grandmother's story with such empathy, providing descriptions that create a real sense of the places they lived and the hardships they suffered, alongside the various relationships between people during such times. O'Donnell is ultimately looking for the one event that her grandmother seems so reluctant to share and knows she is holding back, until one evening the story concludes and O'Donnell then feels guilty and reflects on whether it was really her place to unveil the past for her family. This book enables you to understand how initially the people of Prussia seemed protected from the effects of the war, but inevitably as the war developed and the Russian Army invaded, so a life once known could no longer be returned to. However, we see that Inge does finally in her latter life, return to a part of the world that she once grew up in. To be able to bring her grandmother's story to life, O'Donnell too visits these places, although struggles to find evidence of these past events through left remnants. This is a story that provides an insight to such horrific conditions people endured at such times, but also exposes the way in which Prussians were treated by other nations due to their association with Germany, during and after the war. It is a tale which not only highlights such treatment, but a tale that needs to be told and known, lest we forget such events in history. My thanks go out to netgalley and Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing for being able to read and review an ARC of this.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Susan Corcoran

    Having studied history for many years, I thought there was little that I didn’t know about World War Two and the period around it, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. There are still many gaps in my knowledge of that period and Inge’s War by Svenja O’Donnell made me aware for the first time of the story of a people displaced at the end of the war from East Prussia. It gives a voice to a group of people silenced by a nations collective guilt over Hitler’s atrocities, especially thousands of wome Having studied history for many years, I thought there was little that I didn’t know about World War Two and the period around it, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. There are still many gaps in my knowledge of that period and Inge’s War by Svenja O’Donnell made me aware for the first time of the story of a people displaced at the end of the war from East Prussia. It gives a voice to a group of people silenced by a nations collective guilt over Hitler’s atrocities, especially thousands of women and children who found themselves paying the ultimate price for their nations brutality during this period. In most respects Inge’s War by Svenja O’Donnell is a personal story about the writers grandmother and her often brutal experiences as she fled the Russian advance into East Prussia as the war ended. Yet it is also a deeply moving examination of a nations collective grief and guilt over what happened to so many people during Hitler’s time in power, Many acted to help those affected, but the majority while not taking an active role, passively allowed it to continue or where too frightened of reprisals to act. This has had a formative affect on the generations that followed as they seek to make sense of the events that they played no part in and yet they carry it almost as a part of their DNA. The extraordinary thing about this book is how the writer expresses this and allows us to understand these events. As well as how the nation gradually learnt to give a voice to what happened, while healing and finding a strong moral role in a newly emerging Europe. How the writer uses her Grandmother’s slowly emerging story to examine this, is best described as astonishing, her searing honesty making this book, a must read for anyone interested this period of history. She reclaims the story of her family, her connection to a city in East Prussia that no longer exists and the journey Inge took, facing brutality and starvation to find a life lived on her own terms. It starts with an idyllic childhood in the east Prussian city of Königsberg, Inge’s discovery of secret jazz bars in Berlin, through finding love and losing it, then a frantic and dangerous journey to save her family, as the Russians sort retribution on German citizens. How she teases out the events is deeply affecting and has had a profound affect on me as a reader, I never knew about how Inge and thousands others like her faced such violent reprisals, persecution and neglect as they fled. I understand that though others around Inge lost their sense of humanity during the war, did it warrant other nations losing theirs after the war ended? Many thousands of innocent women and children lost their lives in camps where they were denied medical treatment, deliberately left without adequate food. Women like Inge were victims many times over. There is no denying that the German nation was responsible for so much evil during the war, but many of it’s citizen’s had no part in that. Inge’s story is incredible and her grand daughters as well. To bring such a moving tale to readers is a great gift from her to us. To share such a remarkable and personal discovery should not only be commended, it should be showered with awards. Inge’s story is one faced by many women of the time and it helps to redress the lack of voice they have endured, while examining how secrets unburied can open ruptures through families that can affect them for generations to come. I can’t recommend enough, I really can’t, it is quite remarkable and deeply affecting.

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