Wednesday, April 11, 2012

THE NAZI OFFICER'S WIFE: How One Jewish Woman Survived The Holocaust (Edith Hahn Beer)

Story Description:

Zonderkidz | October 15, 1999 | Hardcover |ISBN 978-0-688-17776-8

Edith Hahn was an outspoken young woman studying law in Vienna when the Gestapo forced Edith and her mother into a ghetto, issuing them papers branded with a "J."  Soon, Edith was taken away to a labor camp, and though she convinced Nazi officials to spare her mother, when she returned home, her mother had been deported.  Knowing she would become a hunted woman, Edith tore the yellow star from her clothing and went underground, scavenging for food and searching each night for a safe place to sleep. Her boyfriend, Pepi, proved too terrified to help her, but a Christian friend was not.  With the woman's identity papers in hand, Edith fled to Munich.  There she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi party member who fell in love with her, and despite her protests and even her eventual confession that she was Jewish, he married her and kept her identity secret.  

In vivid, wrenching detail, Edith recalls a life of constant, almost paralyzing fear.  She tells of German officials who casually questioned the lineage of her parents; of how, when giving birth to her daughter, she refused all painkillers, afraid that in an altered state of mind she might reveal her past; and of how, after her husband was captured by the Russians and sent to Siberia, Edith was bombed out of her house and had to hide in a closet with her daughter while drunken Russians soldiers raped women on the street. 

Yet despite the risk it posed to her life, Edith Hahn created a remarkable collective record of survival.  She saved every set of real and falsified papers, letters she received from her lost love, Pepi, and photographs she managed to take inside labor camps. 

On exhibit at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., these hundreds of documents form the fabric of an epic story--complex, troubling, and ultimately triumphant.  

My Review: 

I don’t really have a lot to add here for a review since the story description was so liberal and thorough.  It was truly an amazing story of an immensely intelligent and strong woman.  I’m not sure I could have done what Edith accomplished and my hat goes off to her.  The story was well written and was truly heartbreaking in areas and even a bit of humour was injected in other parts.  On the whole, I’m really glad that I stumbled across this book while searching for something to read on the Chapters.Indigo website.  If you get a chance, pick up a copy and read a most amazing story!

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