cover image Surviving the Fatherland

Surviving the Fatherland

Annette Oppenlander. Oppenlander, $4.99 e-book (372p) ASIN B06WD8GJ3P

Oppenlander’s wrenching latest (after 47 Days) follows two young Germans from their childhood during WWII in Solingen to their new lives in the 1950s. Parallel narratives are told by Lilly Kronen, aged seven in 1940, and Gunter Schmidt, 11. Their lives are first disrupted when their fathers enter the war, and challenges increase as rationing begins, followed by relentless carpet bombing. The horrors of war are continually thrust upon the children as they witness suffering and death, and when Gunter is mustered into the Hitler Youth program, he is reluctant to become a cog in the führer’s evil machine. Starvation, desperation, and destruction of homes and human life force the children to grow up quickly, and it is only when Lilly and Gunter meet for the first time in 1949 that they allow themselves an emotional reprieve. The pace is as relentless as the war itself, with brutal descriptions of the savage life endured by German children. The excruciating atrocities of WWII are far-reaching, as Lilly learns in 1945 of the death marches from concentration camps. This type of raw, articulate, history-based storytelling pays homage to the war children who bore witness while struggling to survive. (Self-published)