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The Nazi Officer's Wife: How One Jewish…

The Nazi Officer's Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust (original 1999; edition 2000)

by Susan Dworkin, Edith H. Beer

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Title:The Nazi Officer's Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust
Authors:Susan Dworkin
Other authors:Edith H. Beer
Info:Harper Perennial (2000), Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Read, Your library
Tags:holocaust, non fiction, biography, history

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The Nazi Officer's Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust by Edith Hahn Beer (1999)


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Another WW II story but riveting. A young Jewish woman, Edith Hahn, survived the war by becoming a “U-boat,” the term coined by Nazis for Jews who used fake identities to escape detection. What’s amazing is that several people risked their lives to help her hide in plain sight. More remarkable is that a high-ranking Nazi officer marries her and never reveals who she really is. The most fascinating part is that she has to recreate her whole persona to “become” Grete: behaving like a simple-minded girl instead of a college-educated woman; using her femininity and youthful appearance to appear shy and submissive; cooking, cleaning, and sexually pleasing a husband she didn't love. A few things needed clarification: why didn’t she flee when she had the chance; why was she loyal to a lover who refused to shelter her from the Nazis; why did she have a child in the worst of times. Edith’s daughter, Angelika, is believed to be the only child born of a Jewish mother in a Reich hospital in 1944. It’s too bad she didn’t give us more details about her life after the war and where she ended up. Trump’s hateful rhetoric and misogyny in the current political campaign makes one wonder how easily we might find ourselves reliving the horrors of a world controlled by a maniacal dictator. ( )
  sushitori | May 31, 2016 |
Interesting read on how someone survived the holocaust in Germany. She certainly had luck on her side beside some wonderful people who helped her out. Her life was comfortable before the war but she lived through harsh working conditions as a Jew in Germany before the actual holocaust and had no idea it was going. She always hoped to be reunited with her mother who was sent to the Warsaw Ghetto. Her life after the war and living under a Russian regime seemed ideal until it became as intolerable as living under the Germans. ( )
  joannemonck | May 31, 2016 |
Fascinating memoir, helping us experience the life of someone who needed to hide her real self for a long time. Well read audio too. ( )
  Connie-D | Jan 17, 2016 |
An Austrian Jewish woman survives the Holocaust by marrying a member of the Nazi party. When she meets him, he is initially a high-ranking factory official, but by the end of the war, when everyone is pressed into active duty, he is an officer within the party. And the kicker? He knows she's Jewish. Totally made up, right? Wrong. That is the actual story of Edith Hahn Beer.

The Shoah has, understandably, sparked a lot of significant literature. The Diary of Anne Frank. Night. Sophie's Choice. Why this incredible memoir hasn't been included in the canon is beyond me, honestly. It was (like almost all of my Kindle books) a sale selection, the title promising a fascinating tale although memoirs aren't an especial favorite of mine. And it's been one of the few books I've read recently that I literally couldn't put down.

One of the upsides of the Kindle is its portability. And I have the Kindle app on my phone, although I hardly use it usually. Not here. I was reading on my eight-minute walk to work. I was reading in the bathroom. I was reading every spare second I could grab. Beer's writing voice feels like a story your aunt or grandma is telling you...it's immediate, it grabs you and doesn't let you go. From the moment that she's sent to her first work camp assignment, missing her mother's departure for the ghetto, to her friend's bravery in giving Edith her identification documents (which the friend then reported as "missing") so that Edith, unable to draw rations on her false ID, will at least be able to try to find work, to her first meeting with her future husband Werner, to her refusal to have any pain medication during the birth of their child so that she won't spill her desperate secret, all of it is incredibly compelling and although we know she survives her experience because she wrote a book about it, we can't help but eagerly turn pages to see how it plays out. Basically I was completely swept away and never wanted it to end and recommend it to anyone who enjoys a well-told story. ( )
  ghneumann | Jan 15, 2016 |
This is the story of one Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust by hiding in plain sight – she was married to a German Nazi officer. Her story is filled with hope and sorrow, joy and pain, as she tells what happens to those who did not survive and those who did. It is a unique look at what was happening at that time. ( )
  Susan.Macura | Nov 26, 2015 |
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In loving memory of my mother, Klothilde Hahn
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After a while, there were no more onions.
So you see, we had all the burdens of being Jewish in an anti-Semitic country, but none of the strengths—the Torah learning, the prayers, the welded community. We spoke no Yiddish or Hebrew. We had no deep faith in God. We were not Polish Chassidim or Lithuanian yeshiva scholars. We were not bold free Americans... And there were no Israelis then, no soldiers in the desert, no "nation like other nations." Hold that in your mind as I tell you this story.
I think my father knew how to be Jewish, but he did not teach us. He must have thought we would absorb it with our mother's milk.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 068817776X, Paperback)

Edith Hahn was an outspoken young woman in Vienna when the Gestapo forced her into a ghetto and then into a labor camp. When she returned home months later, she knew she would become a hunted woman and went underground. With the help of a Christian friend, she emerged in Munich as Grete Denner. There she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi Party member who fell in love with her. Despite Edith's protests and even her eventual confession that she was Jewish, he married her and kept her identity a secret.

In 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 something of her past; and of how, after her husband was captured by the Soviet army, she was bombed out of her house and had to hide while drunken Russian soldiers raped women on the street.

Yet despite the risk it posed to her life, Edith created a remarkable record of survival. She saved every document and set of papers issued to her, as well as photographs she managed to take inside labor camps. Now part of the permanent collection at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., these hundreds of documents, several of which are included in this volume, form the fabric of a gripping new chapter in the history of the Holocaust -- complex, troubling, and ultimately triumphant.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:31 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Edith Hahn tells how she survived the Holocaust, first by going underground, using a Christian friend's identity papers, and eventually marrying Werner Vetter, a Nazi Party member who knew she was Jewish.

(summary from another edition)

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