The Hours After: Letters of Love and Longing in War's Aftermath

Gerda Weissmann Klein, Author, Kurt Klein, Joint Author
Gerda Weissmann Klein, Author, Kurt Klein, Joint Author St. Martin's Press $23.95 (276p) ISBN 978-0-312-24258-9
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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""I pray that we will have children who will inherit the best that is in us: the legacy of our lost parents."" This haunting plea was written by Gerda Weissmann Klein (All but My Life: A Memoir) in her engrossing correspondence with her then fianc , Kurt, over the course of the year before they were able to marry in June 1946. Kurt, a German Jew, fled Nazi Germany and came to the U.S. in 1937. He became an officer in the American army and, in this capacity, met Gerda in a Czech hospital right after the war ended. Gerda, a Polish Jew, was in very frail health, having endured a 350-mile death march by the Nazis and slave labor. The two, who had both lost their parents and many other family members and friends during the Holocaust, began spending time together during her recuperation and fell deeply in love. The letters they exchanged after Kurt returned to the U.S. and Gerda tried to find a way through the postwar bureaucracy to join him are suffused with romantic yearnings and touching plans for their future. Meanwhile, Gerda witnessed the serious problems that beset displaced persons after the war, which she articulated to Kurt in moving detail. For a period of several months, she worked in Munich at the Bavarian Aid Society, where she describes her clients as ""a virtual chronicle of agony."" In addition, many of the women with whom she had been liberated became critically ill or mired in resignation, pain and loss. After appealing to U.S., Polish, Swiss and French governmental agencies, she was eventually able to wed Kurt and immigrate to the U.S. Married for more than 50 years, they now live in Arizona. Author tour. (Feb.)
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