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Book Reviews

Helga

by Helga Gerhardi, Virona Press ISBN 0 9521933 0 2 - 11.50

For those with ancestors from the former East Prussia this book is a must.

A highly personal tale, it gives details of the authors' life as a member of a Swiss family living in the region close to Lithuania in the period before the last war. It describes the steady take-over of Nazi ideology, and the resulting oppression and loss of freedom.

Becoming a medical student, Helga helped to nurse the thousands of casualties from the Russian front before being forced to flee herself during the bitter winter of 1944---1945. This part of the book is particularly gripping, its vivid description of the inhuman conditions suffered by those Germans forced to flee from the hands of the approaching Russians is truly horrific, and certainly opened my eyes to a chapter of recent history of which I was remarkably ignorant.

Following a series of fortuitous events she then succeeds in tracing down and revisiting her family in war-torn western Germany in the period immediately after the end of hostilities.

Helga - the continuing story

by Helga Gerhardi, Virona Publishing ISBN 0 9521933 1 0
- 7.99

Beginning with a brief re-telling, with added details, of the story of the first book,

Helga now brings the tale up-to-date with a description of the family's return to Switzerland, the less-than-welcoming attitude of its people and her eventual marriage and arrival in Britain, where yet fresh challenges awaited. Over all I was left feeling deeply humbled. These two books tell a story of immense courage in the face of adversity.

Although, as I have said, they will be of particular interest to those with family from the former eastern German lands, anyone, I think, would find them an enthralling read, and they deserve far greater recognition than they have so far achieved. I have sent a copy of the second book to the Society Library.

R Dienst - Member 1184 - September 2001

The Anglo German Family History Society