cover image MY WOUNDED HEART: The Life of Lilli Jahn, 1900–1944

MY WOUNDED HEART: The Life of Lilli Jahn, 1900–1944

Martin Doerry, . . Bloomsbury, $24.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-1-58234-370-9

By the time the Gestapo arrested Dr. Lilli Jahn in 1943, she had been forced to stop practicing medicine, ostracized by her German neighbors in Immenhausen and divorced by her non-Jewish husband, Ernst, after he'd had a child with a fellow doctor whom he subsequently married. Confined to her home, Lilli found joy in her five children until her deportation. One of the most unusual stories to come out of the Holocaust, Lilli's tale is told largely through letters she wrote, dating from her courtship with Ernst in 1923 through her final 1944 letter from Auschwitz ("I'm well, I'm working at my profession," she writes in the censored message), and from more than 250 letters from her children between 1943 and 1944, when Lilli was incarcerated at a forced labor camp in Breitenau. Its graphic depiction of the fate of Jews in so-called "privileged" mixed marriages and the way national politics affected domestic life make this a valuable addition to the Holocaust canon. The children's letters detail their daily activities. For her part, Lilli had only one goal: "I'm being careful and my one thought is to come back to you fit and well and, I hope, soon." Doerry, Lilli's grandson and editor of the German magazine Der Spiegel , could easily have turned this into a maudlin and melodramatic story. Instead, he has wisely chosen to let the letters speak for themselves, confining himself to inserting details and filling in historical information where necessary. The result is a heartbreaking story that powerfully illustrates love's power to wound—and to heal. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW . (Mar. 18)