The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust
By Edith Hahn Beer with Susan Dworkin
Weight: 4.8 oz
Method of Disposal: Gave to a friend
This book was a hand-me-down from my mother. She read it and passed it along—probably in the year 2000. It has been awhile, but when I told her that I finally read it just a few days ago you could tell she remembered it well. I have read so many books that sometimes I only have a vague outline in my head of some of them, even some of my favorites. It is very sad but true. This is not the kind of book you forget.
This book is the memoir of Edith, and it shows her growing up during the Holocaust. She is Jewish, though not Orthodox. She is not familiar with all of the prayers and customs. She grows up in Vienna. At the start, she is laughing with her friends, talking about how no one could ever listen to the crazy ranting of Hitler. Then she is sent to a labor camp and, even then, she believes that it will all end soon. That it will be o.k. She only has to work for 6 months. Those 6 months draw further and further out, and her mother is sent to a concentration camp. Of course, no one knows what that means. She tries to get back to her, but in the end she receives some false papers showing she is not Jewish, goes underground, and eventually marries a Nazi, who is quite a jackass. This saves her life.
I picked this book up on a lunch break at work, and I had trouble putting it down long enough to get everything done and get home. I finished it that night. This woman has an incredible and terrifying story to tell. The book is easy to read, and it is written in a very accessible and not overly contemplative way. Her story shows how long it can take to believe what is incomprehensible, particularly when you are going through it. It shows how quickly people’s feelings can change from restrained/hidden hatred and/or desperation to full-on cruelty and abuse. And then it continues to get worse. I have handed it over to one friend and already have another asking for it. I do recommend that people read Edith’s story.