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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 2013, 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)

audiobook (7) Austria (7) autobiography (31) biography (37) ebook (4) German (7) Germany (29) historical (4) history (50) Holocaust (108) Jewish (14) Jews (12) Judaism (8) Kindle (4) memoir (48) Nazi (10) Nazi Germany (10) Nazis (13) non-fiction (59) own (5) personal narrative (4) read (5) survival (10) to-read (28) underground (4) unread (8) Vienna (4) war (7) wishlist (4) WWII (98)

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I went back and forth on this book. (It's probably really a 3 1/2 star read, but I'm really torn.) Overall I did like it--Edith's story is really something else--but I guess it just wasn't what I expected in the end. (It's probably mostly just the difference between life and fiction; I'll be the first to admit that.) At times it felt like too much detail was being given (and things were being repeated) when it wasn't needed while at other times I wanted to know more than she was telling. I'm sure a lot of that has to do with the fact that this story was being told so much later than the events had actually happened. At times it was a slightly confusing blend of what was happening in the story and her asides about things that occurred later--this might have been helped if I'd read the book instead of listening to it, though. I also kept hoping that some of the people (especially her husband) would end up being better people than they actually were--again, I'll admit to being a sucker for HEA, which is a lot easier to come by in fiction. I am glad I read it, though--it gave a completely different perspective than any other book I've read from this era. ( )
  beckymmoe | Apr 20, 2013 |
Once I got into this memoir, it was hard to stop reading it. If you've ever wondered what European Jews were thinking and doing during the rise of Nazi Germany, you will be as fascinated by this story as I was. Edith Hahn was a young Austrian woman training to become a judge when Hitler came to power, and she does an amazing job of describing what her life was like before, during, and after the Holocaust. Although the title suggests the whole story is about her marriage to a Nazi officer, Edith actually doesn't marry him until about half-way through the book.

The following pages really resonated with me:


"How can I describe you our confusion and terror when the Nazis took over? We had lived until yesterday in a rational world. Now everyone around us -- our schoolmates, neighbors, and teachers; our tradesmen, policemen, and bureaucrats -- had all gone mad. They had been harboring a hatred for us which we had grown accustomed to calling 'prejudice.' What a gentle word that was! What a euphemism! In fact, they hated us with a hatred as old as their religion; they were born hating us, raised hating us; and now with the Anschluss, the veneer of civilization which had protected us from their hatred was stripped away....

The Nazi radio blamed us for every filthy evil thing in this world. The Nazis called us subhuman and, in the next breath, superhuman; accused us of plotting to murder them, to rob them blind; declared that they had to conquer the world to prevent us from conquering the world....

Did our friends and neighbors really believe this? Of course they didn't believe it. They were not stupid. But they had suffered depression, inflation, and joblessness. They wanted to be well-to-do again, and the fastest way to accomplish that was to steal. Cultivating a belief in the greed of the Jews gave them an excuse to steal everything the Jews possessed.

We sat in our flats, paralyzed with fear, waiting for the madness to end. Rational, charming, witty, dancing, generous Vienna must surely rebel against such insanity. We waited and we waited and it didn't end and it didn't end and still we waited and we waited." ( )
1 vote JillKB | Apr 4, 2013 |
Amazing story... not only about survival but how much compassion those that are being persecuted have for one another. Although they have nothing everything was shared and the risk that some where willing to undergo for another. Great book. ( )
  deep220 | Jan 13, 2013 |
This is the autobiography of a Jewish girl who grew up in Vienna got a legal degree and survived the war in Germany to eventually live in Israel. Dollfuss was the Chancellor of Austria till he was assassinated by Nazis in 1934. Basically to keep the Nazi's out he became a dictator and dissolved the constitution. After him Schuschnigg took over but was forced to resign to a Hitler ultimatum followed by the Aunschluss
What is interesting in that they still had access to post. Slave labourers in Germany seem to have better conditions than those in other conquered places.
Edith got a holiday to return to Vienna and was supposed to report for deportation to Poland but has heard how bad conditions were there from soldiers writing to Jewish girlfriends. The interesting thing is that she had many friends who were high up in the Nazi party. She was told to find an Aryan friend who would say that she lost her papers while boating in the Danube and would get new copy. Edith would get the old one but had to leave Vienna and find work in the Red Cross as all other jobs were on a national register.
In Munich she worked as a nurse aid. After the fall of Stalingrad, Goebbels called for 4 days of mourning and greater sacrifices in "total war"
You could be sent to jail for listening to foreign radio but she discovered that one neighbour would sing another would knocking woodwork while they all listened to BBC or Swiss Radio in German.
She learned that only 6000 German troop got home after Stalingrad.
On BBC she heard the voice of the writer Thomas Mann as well as the Chief Rabbi Hertz of Britain who spoke in German. Before the Russians came her husband realised that it was better to keep cash than to leave it in the bank. In The Russian sector instead of the Gestapo the Soviets brought the KGB again everybody were supposed to be informers so she knew she had to leave and got to England where she had a sister. ( )
  MauriceRogevMemorial | Oct 17, 2012 |
Fabulous book following the life of one Jewish woman through Nazi Germany. There was so much I wasn't aware of about the lives and trials of those who couldn't escape. I highly recommend this one. ( )
  slarsoncollins | Jul 2, 2012 |
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In loving memory of my mother, Klothilde Hahn

5762 LJCRS Book Fair Selection
First words
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:32 -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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