Hot Best Seller

Surviving the Fatherland: A True Coming-of-age Love Story Set in WWII Germany

Availability: Ready to download

SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND is a sweeping saga of family, love, and betrayal that illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the children's war. Spanning thirteen years from 1940 to 1953, SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND tells the true and heart-wrenching stories of Lilly and Günter struggling with the terror-filled reality of life in the Third Reich, each embarking on their SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND is a sweeping saga of family, love, and betrayal that illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the children's war. Spanning thirteen years from 1940 to 1953, SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND tells the true and heart-wrenching stories of Lilly and Günter struggling with the terror-filled reality of life in the Third Reich, each embarking on their own dangerous path toward survival, freedom, and ultimately each other. Based on the author’s own family and anchored in historical facts, this story celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the strength of war children.


Compare

SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND is a sweeping saga of family, love, and betrayal that illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the children's war. Spanning thirteen years from 1940 to 1953, SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND tells the true and heart-wrenching stories of Lilly and Günter struggling with the terror-filled reality of life in the Third Reich, each embarking on their SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND is a sweeping saga of family, love, and betrayal that illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the children's war. Spanning thirteen years from 1940 to 1953, SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND tells the true and heart-wrenching stories of Lilly and Günter struggling with the terror-filled reality of life in the Third Reich, each embarking on their own dangerous path toward survival, freedom, and ultimately each other. Based on the author’s own family and anchored in historical facts, this story celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the strength of war children.

30 review for Surviving the Fatherland: A True Coming-of-age Love Story Set in WWII Germany

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mischenko

    DNF. This book was just way to much of a struggle for me right now because of some of the content. I may revisit it in the future. No rating for now.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bill Ward

    A fascinating true story about a German family trying to survive the war and years after. Lilly is a young child struggling with an unloving mother and the loss of her father, who has left to fight. There is no time for a normal childhood. The family are scraping an existence unable to put food on the table. The mother is entertaining other men and a pervert focuses his attention on Lilly. Eventually the war ends but life doesn't improve. Lilly is working hard and also doing all the chores at ho A fascinating true story about a German family trying to survive the war and years after. Lilly is a young child struggling with an unloving mother and the loss of her father, who has left to fight. There is no time for a normal childhood. The family are scraping an existence unable to put food on the table. The mother is entertaining other men and a pervert focuses his attention on Lilly. Eventually the war ends but life doesn't improve. Lilly is working hard and also doing all the chores at home. She falls in love but love doesn't run smoothly. I loved the character of Lilly and her strength when faced with terrible adversity. The other characters are also very vivid. This is a wonderful portrayal of real people in a terrible time. I felt I was living with the family and experiencing their challenges. I found the book just a touch slow at the beginning and wasn't keen on the multiple view points of different members of the family in the early chapters but then the story becomes all about Lilly. Well worth a read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jara Beaubien

    This is the most intense book that I have read, do I believe it, I most certainly do, both my parents are survivors of the war that was supposed to end all wars, my Mother spent 2 years in a concentration camp, and why because a maniac took over Germany and then just about destroyed, not caring what he did or how much his people suffered. A true story of how children survived the atrocities imposed by Hitler and his henchman. Lilly and Gunter are the image of how young children dealt with the war This is the most intense book that I have read, do I believe it, I most certainly do, both my parents are survivors of the war that was supposed to end all wars, my Mother spent 2 years in a concentration camp, and why because a maniac took over Germany and then just about destroyed, not caring what he did or how much his people suffered. A true story of how children survived the atrocities imposed by Hitler and his henchman. Lilly and Gunter are the image of how young children dealt with the war and how they coped with the atrocities of seeing their Fathers go to war, how they survived the bombings and the brutality of some men and how some people were allies and friends during this time of darkness. Here we see what happened in their lives and that of their Families, how each one dealt with what was thrown at them and how they survived, and how their lives were shaped after the war. To those who are interested this is a book well worth reading as it shows you a different side of the war, it shows it from the eyes of children during the war and how things shaped for them when they grew up. Annette Oppenlander thank you so very much for a story well worth reading.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kaycee

    One of my favorite genres to read is historical fiction. I don’t know why, but within this category I seem to gravitate toward World War II fiction in particular. The stories of heartbreak, resilience, and coming of age, despite so many obstacles always manages to pull on my heart strings. Netgalley was kind enough to send me a copy of Surviving the Fatherland: A True Coming-Of-Age Story Set in WWII Germany, for my honest review. And let me tell you, this one will definitely wear out your heart. One of my favorite genres to read is historical fiction. I don’t know why, but within this category I seem to gravitate toward World War II fiction in particular. The stories of heartbreak, resilience, and coming of age, despite so many obstacles always manages to pull on my heart strings. Netgalley was kind enough to send me a copy of Surviving the Fatherland: A True Coming-Of-Age Story Set in WWII Germany, for my honest review. And let me tell you, this one will definitely wear out your heart. The story takes place through the years 1940-1953 and follows the author, Annette Oppenlander’s parents, called Lilly and Günter, in book. As you read you first find Lilly and Günter within their childhood, loosing their fathers to the war and their general day to day survival under Hitler’s Third Reich. Surviving the Fatherland dedicated a good chunk of itself to life during reconstruction, which was very interesting to read about as most WWII fiction I’ve read typically ends right after the war does. Eventually of course, the novel follows Oppenlander’s parent’s romance and eventual marriage. As I briefly mentioned, Surviving the Fatherland is unlike any other World War II fiction that I have ever read. It paints a portrait of the day to day activities of German citizens during the war, what they’ve lost and how the suffered. It shows betrayal and the fear of not knowing who to trust. The German people as a whole, were not painted as villains, but as the victims of their leader’s decisions. This novel did not shy away from showing the brutality of the war. From the men in power, the desperation of German’s citizens, to means of survival – parts cut deep. There were moments when I had to put my copy down and walk away due to the brutality of it all. The novel demonstrates the different roles that men and woman had to play in the war, as well. Not only through Günter and Lilly, but also through the adults that surround them. Oppenlander’s writing style was a little different than what I am used to, it took me a little while to get into the story. However, because of her writing the reader gets to take the role of an active observer of the character’s fight for survival, rather than having an immersive character experience. All in all, this novel completely exceeded my expectations. It was heartbreaking, brutal, and beautiful. The fact that this is a true story, makes all of these characteristics stronger. I cannot encourage you enough to check it out!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dr.J.G.

    To begin with, the title is false and fraudulent. The title, and the cover too, suggests, vaguely, survival of those that suffered the doings of the regime. But startlingly, as one realises somewhere along the line, one has been very cleverly, deliberately misled. It's not about the Jews or the resistance, only about the average citizens who weren't Nazi, and paid for the doings of those they never agreed with. One has to agree they did suffer. But it wasn't the country or land or nation that they To begin with, the title is false and fraudulent. The title, and the cover too, suggests, vaguely, survival of those that suffered the doings of the regime. But startlingly, as one realises somewhere along the line, one has been very cleverly, deliberately misled. It's not about the Jews or the resistance, only about the average citizens who weren't Nazi, and paid for the doings of those they never agreed with. One has to agree they did suffer. But it wasn't the country or land or nation that they survived, it was the war they survived, a war which their leaders began, inflicted on the world and on Europe in particular, killing millions of civilians and soldiers; if those inflicted, and otherwise asked to surrender or put up with it, had done so - in short, if U.K., USSR and U.S. had not resisted and fought back - Germans would have gone on celebrating that leadership, as they did when the leaders acquired Rhineland, Austria and Czechoslovakia. So the survival is about surviving the war, the bombings, the crazy leadership that escalated and asked teen boys to join the war, and deprivation due to their country's industry and produce being geared to war. It's not about surviving the fatherland, it's about surviving the Nazi war and defeat. And if one has visited Germany, met Germans in Germany, talked with them, one is all too familiar with several aspects of this - the allied bombings, the Czechoslovakia reprisals against Sudeten Germans post war (not surprisingly no nation East of Germany wanted to keep their ethnic Germans, who'd after all not only been the excuse for Nazi invasions but had often been proud of collaboration with the invaders), and more. Except, they are usually vague, evasive, or worse, when it comes to talking about the holocaust victims. If they think you are of a certainty ignorant, which they assume if you're non'white', they lie blatantly, for example "Jews migrated" or "their confiscated properties were returned", and if they think they can get away with it, they tell you about Jews they meet in Paris who stop speaking with them when they find out you're German. So one has come to harbour a growing suspicion that books like these are being written and published as a cloudy propaganda that frogs up the horrors of holocaust in pointing fingers at those that were supposed to be not victims of nazis and saying "oh but we too were victims, see, this is how we suffered". Such books are proliferating now that survivors of holocaust and their descendents are finally writing their memoirs, publishing them, and leaving records that are as undeniable as the Nuremburg archives. One may concede that they, some of them, realised that their leaders were wrong, but then again, their swallowing the convenient propaganda of racist superiority isn't quite rooted out, it's deep on the contrary. One has only to notice how lovingly someone's blue eyes are mentioned, and it isn't accidental. A significant difference is that the memoirs are far more often just that, memoirs. Books such as these are on the other hand novels set in the era, and sometimes - like this one - based on true stories. ............ Here is an example of the blind hatred leading to lack of gratitude, by the author and the sources, and by most Germans: "Lilly: May-June 1945 "The ‘morale’ bombing continued until May 3rd, the British Royal Air Force and US Air Force dropping millions of explosives on German cities. Dresden, Hamburg, Berlin, Potsdam, large cities and small towns alike went up in flames. I don’t know if Churchill didn’t understand or didn’t care that neither civilians nor soldiers would sway Hitler’s war machine. If the war couldn’t be won, Hitler was prepared to sacrifice everyone. So he did. "On April 16, Solingen capitulated to the Americans without a fight. We heard about it from a neighbor who came running up the street and knocked on our door. "Mutti just sat down and held her head in her hands. “It’s over,” she mumbled. "I went to her side, joining Burkhart, and she hugged us both. It was one of the few hugs I remember. "With the war ending, men trickled into town. Wearing assorted clothing to sever any connection to their activities as German soldiers, they stared at the ruins in wonder. Their faces dirty and haggard, they appeared on doorsteps and in living rooms. Some had an arm or a leg missing. Some had all their limbs, but looked sickly and washed out. Some had come and found their houses gone and their families evaporated within. "Screams of surprise and delight echoed in some homes while others remained quiet as women and children waited and watched their neighbors welcome husbands, fathers and brothers. Some men had walked for hundreds of miles; others had been released from POW camps in neighboring cities. Unable to provide food and healthy living conditions, the British and American military were releasing their prisoners by the thousands." That last sentence might have been excused from an ignorant older Nazi, but it's not so from the author half a century and more past the era, and nor from the bombed Germans of the day. After all, even if they were unaware of the atrocities perpetrated by their regime and the holocaust that was to shock all civilised world, they were quite aware that it was war, and their armies had bombed various cities for merely breaking the nations into submission. Thousands of civilians had been massacred by German forces, even apart from the millions massacred in eastern nations and other millions in the various ghettos and concentration camps. The least every German could and should realise, and acknowledge, is that all those thousands of soldiers could simply have been shot or starved to death by allies, and since this was after having discovered what atrocities Germans had perpetrated, it could have been excusable. That they let those not considered guilty of war crimes go scot-free was an act of civilised conduct, if not of outright magnanimity. As for inability to provide food, allied forces were caring for those that had survived the concentration camps, apart from civilians in various lands looted by Germany. That caring included food and medical care. A few thousand German civilians or prisoners of war that needed to be kept imprisoned wouldn't have been more than a fraction of the burden, if it were considered needful or worth. But the hatred by the author comes through with such tiny pricks strewn over in the narrative, generally. ............ "You would have thought that a year after the biggest war of all time was over, we’d be better off. The opposite was true." Why would any German expect things to be not bad, after Germany having wreaked havoc across Europe and massacred millions of civilians, apart from millions of soldiers, and the regime having used every resource of Germany for the purpose, making the nation a humongous war machine that bulldozed Europe? Germany had had nothing but empty, false promises from the regime that had done this, for sake of killing off everyone else so that German population could occupy whole of Europe, reproduce and settle. How would Germany be better off, after losing the war, except on charity that flowed from U.S.? ............ Before the narratives and after acknowledgments, author quotes on a page:- "Quotes "“When these ten-year old boys join our organization, […] then they join the Hitler youth four years later, and there we keep them for another four years, and then […] we immediately take them into the party, into the labor front, in the SA or SS […] Their further treatment will be furnished by the military and they will not be free for the rest of their lives.” "—Adolf Hitler "“Woman's world is her husband, her family, her children and her home. We do not find it right when she presses into the world of men.” "—Adolf Hitler" ............ ............ Part of this book is published also separately as 47 Days. Before the story begins, there are declarations, avowals, reminders of history to the readers, and more. "Based on a True Story" "I don’t want an intellectual education. Knowledge ruins our youth.” –Adolf Hitler" "Until that fateful spring in 1945, I never realized what ‘home’ meant and what I’d do to keep it in my heart. How deep Hitler’s evil reached. How it changed the way I looked at the world and forced me to make an impossible choice. "Anymore, my memory plays tricks. But though I struggle to keep my day-to-day life straight, I clearly remember the day everything started. "I remember when we were ordered to die for the Fatherland." ............ At the end, another declaration:- "47 DAYS is an excerpt from the novel, SURVING THE FATHERLAND" If it were part of information about this book on Amazon, one need not have bought this after the novel. ............ ............ "Author Note:- "The Volkssturm or people’s storm was Hitler’s last propaganda command, not organized by the German military but the NSDAP, the Nazi party. All able-bodied men between 16 and 60 were classified into four groups from most usable to least usable. My father, Günter, born in December 1928, had just turned 16 and was in classification III. Military training was supposed to take place within the Hitler Youth (HJ) by the end of March 1945. At this point in the war, allied troops had been on German ground for months, German soldiers on the retreat. Weapons and equipment were almost impossible to find. It is reported that more than 1.3 million guns were needed, but only 18,000 available. Machine guns were even more rare: 75,000 were needed and 180 available. Originally, the Volkssturm was supposed to defend the home front. In the case of my father, the boys were ordered to find their way about 200 km south to Marburg. I assume this was done in an attempt to stop the advancing U.S. Armies who were already in Siegen, less than sixty miles from Marburg. One can only imagine what happened when these youngsters were confronted with fully equipped and trained U.S. troops. Did they even have guns or did they attempt to stop tanks with their bare hands? "70% of these boys who’d grown up during the Nazi reign, volunteered. How many boys and men served during the Volkssturm is unknown. Their effect was negligible. They could not even protect single homes, not to mention a professional army. "To some readers it may appear that this act of defiance, of not answering conscription is nothing special. My father didn’t shoot SS-men nor did he plan an assassination on Hitler. He was neither a killer nor was he in the resistance. But he did one important thing many much older and mature people neglect to do. He thought for himself. Then he took a gamble and followed through on his conviction. The way I see it, this was extremely difficult, considering how much pressure was put on the people to follow orders. In a dictatorship refusing to follow orders means certain punishment. In my father’s case, it would’ve meant certain death because even in the spring of 1945, cells of fanatical SS-men remained and many innocent people were shot. "None of Günter’s classmates were ever heard of or seen again." ............ ............ "Lilly: May 1940 " For me the war began, not with Hitler’s invasion of Poland, but with my father’s lie. I was seven at the time, a skinny thing with pigtails and bony knees, dressed in my mother’s lumpy hand-knitted sweaters, a girl who loved her father more than anything." "Since my brother’s birth, Mutti had been spending every minute with the baby. No matter how well I behaved, how I did what she asked, I rarely succeeded drawing her eyes away from my brother. It annoyed me to no end that I couldn’t stop myself from trying." "A screeching wail erupted. Sharp and metallic, it cut through doors and walls and echoed through the streets. No matter that the siren blasted every day, it made me shiver. "I watched my mother freeze, her eyes filled with something I would soon learn to recognize as fear. The siren continued—up, down, up, down. Another wail erupted. This time it sounded like the foghorn of a ship, signaling the end of the alarm." "I didn’t taste much of the soup. My eyes were drawn to the stony faces on either side as I recalled the events of the afternoon, wondering if I had done something to make them angry. In that stillness of the kitchen, I sensed that my life was about to change. Something dreadful lingered like a wolf lying in wait behind a bush ready to pounce. You didn’t see it or hear it, yet you knew it was there." ............ Next is about Günter joining the youth wing of nazis, a mere boy expecting campfires and fun, who was thrilled with the uniform because it was all new and not the handed down ones as usual from the elder brother. One part of his story is published separately as 47 Days. ............ The stories alternate. "Lilly: July 1941 "Vati had been gone for over a year, and my life had worsened a little more each day. Sirens blared day and night as the lines at stores grew longer. Our bakery closed, followed by our favorite butcher. From one day to the next, signs appeared in their windows, their doors padlocked. "Over the course of the war, Hitler would close hundreds of thousands of stores and service businesses, forcing their owners to enlist or join the production of war-related materials." "Fear moved into my life. Before Vati left, I hadn’t experienced dread other than a bit of uneasiness when going to the dark basement. "Now I had this shakiness in my legs that wouldn’t go away. In school we practiced climbing under the desk and lining up against inside walls or marching to the basement, teachers producing enthusiastic smiles as if we were playing a game. It was a vague feeling, a discomfort I couldn’t define except that it made my sleep restless and my daily routine tense." There was a new neighbour, single, and Lilly was afraid of him. "The air raid siren began to wail. For a second I stood frozen, watching Mutti leap from the window into the bedroom and return with Burkhart on her arm. Nearly four, he was old enough to walk, but Mutti carried him everywhere. "Air raid warnings were no longer an empty threat. German cities were bombarded on a large scale, what was later confirmed by the Royal Air Force as morale bombing, the widespread bombing of inner cities intended to ‘break’ the morale of the German people. As if people like Mutti and I would’ve been able to stop Hitler’s madness." Lilly was hurt in a fall. Next day she heard her father, who was back, and had arranged to send her East to safety from air raids. "“They’ve organized camps and host families so our children can live without bombs, study better and eat well.” Vati straightened, distractedly petting my head like you’d pet a stranger’s dog. “I found a family for Lilly. Since she’s only nine, she can live with them. It’s just for a few months until we’ve sorted out this war. It’ll -

  6. 5 out of 5

    Pegboard

    Annette Oppenlander opened doors in her heritage most people would have kept closed when she penned Surviving the Fatherland: A True Coming-of-age Love Story Set in WWII Germany. She records her parent’s young lives as they watch fathers, brothers, and friends go off to fulfill their duty fighting for Hitler’s Regime. While Gunter Schmidt’s father and brother are sent to fight, he faces battles of his own as the man of the house. Providing for a mother and younger brother, while there wasn’t foo Annette Oppenlander opened doors in her heritage most people would have kept closed when she penned Surviving the Fatherland: A True Coming-of-age Love Story Set in WWII Germany. She records her parent’s young lives as they watch fathers, brothers, and friends go off to fulfill their duty fighting for Hitler’s Regime. While Gunter Schmidt’s father and brother are sent to fight, he faces battles of his own as the man of the house. Providing for a mother and younger brother, while there wasn’t food to be found, no work available, and Nazi spies implanted in the neighborhood, was almost impossible. Lillian Cronen faces unique challenges as a girl. She must support her mother and brother while warding off the attentions of her mother’s beaus. I feel inadequate to write a review on the lives of two people who went through unimaginable turmoil under a dictator who betrayed his own people. Annette Oppenlander’s tribute to her parents through Surviving the Fatherland: A True Coming-of-age Love Story Set in WWII Germany is simply beautiful. She paints a vivid picture of how the German people were broken by the sacrifices they made to their country. At times I could not put Surviving the Fatherland down; at other times I had to walk away from the starving, bombings, and sad conditions under which these people lived. Annette carefully records a different Germany than what the outside world was portrayed. I was amazed at how open her parents were about their suffering, the guilt they felt at times, and what they had to do to survive; it makes me long to read about the events that did not make it into this historical fiction. Written for Readers' Favorites by Peggy Jo Wipf

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Surviving the Fatherland: A True Coming of Age Love Story Set in WWII Germany by Annette Oppenlander is so much more than a love story. This book should become a classic story of the German people during and after World War II because of the knowledge it imparts to each reader. Hitler and his minions tried to destroy the Jews but at the same time Hitler tried to destroy all Germans. Whether Hitler was demon possessed and/or a madman only God can answer but the entire World was affected by his ev Surviving the Fatherland: A True Coming of Age Love Story Set in WWII Germany by Annette Oppenlander is so much more than a love story. This book should become a classic story of the German people during and after World War II because of the knowledge it imparts to each reader. Hitler and his minions tried to destroy the Jews but at the same time Hitler tried to destroy all Germans. Whether Hitler was demon possessed and/or a madman only God can answer but the entire World was affected by his evil. It was a difficult book to read because of the human suffering but very honest with no excuses. I doubt few people today could survive the hardships that these people endured under the Socialist Party of the Nazi Government or the Russian Socialist Government. This is a book of truth, love, courage and endurance during a time of unbelievable oppression by socialistic governments. My thanks to the author, the publisher and netgalley for allowing me to read and review this extraordinary book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Susan Peterson

    A coming of age story set against the backdrop of Germany during WWII, Surviving the Fatherland is a unique view of the atrocities of that time. Lillly and Günter are young when their fathers head off to fight for the fatherland, Germany, and the burdens of their families fall on their very young shoulders. The fact that this book is based on the author’s own parents adds an extra layer of compassion and empathy; their resilience, their cunning, their fears, even their hunger are evident in ever A coming of age story set against the backdrop of Germany during WWII, Surviving the Fatherland is a unique view of the atrocities of that time. Lillly and Günter are young when their fathers head off to fight for the fatherland, Germany, and the burdens of their families fall on their very young shoulders. The fact that this book is based on the author’s own parents adds an extra layer of compassion and empathy; their resilience, their cunning, their fears, even their hunger are evident in every page of this book. We follow their stories from the beginning of the war, through the war and the bombings and starvation, and after the war as they enter adulthood in a country, in a world, that is forever-changed. Lilly is an extraordinary character...only 7 when the war starts...her feelings toward her parents so conflicted...yet somehow she faces each terror-filled day with determination and intelligence beyond her age.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    A very moving story and one that gripped me from start to finish. Historical novels has been one of my all time favourite genres, especially when it comes to WW11. I have been to two German concentration camps and heard so many heartbreaking stories from the Guides, not only of those within the Camps, but the ordinary people trying to cope with daily life during that time. A well written book and one that i would read again some day. I do recommend this book and do thank Netgalley and the Publish A very moving story and one that gripped me from start to finish. Historical novels has been one of my all time favourite genres, especially when it comes to WW11. I have been to two German concentration camps and heard so many heartbreaking stories from the Guides, not only of those within the Camps, but the ordinary people trying to cope with daily life during that time. A well written book and one that i would read again some day. I do recommend this book and do thank Netgalley and the Publishers for my copy. This is my honest review, freely given.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sharlene

    Definitely 5 stars. I can see why this book is so loved. Very engrossing, deeply moving and character you will not forget. Everyone that loves a well researched historical will want this one.

  11. 5 out of 5

    January Gray

    A MUST READ for those interested in this time period of our History. I read this in one sitting. I couldn't put it down. A MUST READ for those interested in this time period of our History. I read this in one sitting. I couldn't put it down.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Linda Muise

    Picked this up for my ipad. What a surprise! Really enjoyed the story. Excellent character development. Good mix of happy, sad conflict.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bev Walkling

    4.5 stars

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Dreiling

    The book is quite good! My only issue is there are many simple mistakes in the book that bug the historian in me- for example Arian instead of Aryan as well as city names going from italics to regular font type.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Helen Hollick

    This book has received a Discovering Diamonds Review: Helen Hollick founder #DDRevs 'an engrossing and well-researched story with two of the most engaging protagonists I’ve read for a while.' This book has received a Discovering Diamonds Review: Helen Hollick founder #DDRevs 'an engrossing and well-researched story with two of the most engaging protagonists I’ve read for a while.'

  16. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    This and other reviews can be found here. I received an E-book of this book in exchange for a fair review. Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to do so. Surviving the Fatherland: A True Coming-of-age Love Story Set in WWII Germany by Annette Oppenlander is a true story written about Oppenlander’s parents, Günter and Lilly. Both of her parents grew up during World War II and this showcases their struggle through both Hitler’s Regime and Post-war Germany. Oppenla This and other reviews can be found here. I received an E-book of this book in exchange for a fair review. Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to do so. Surviving the Fatherland: A True Coming-of-age Love Story Set in WWII Germany by Annette Oppenlander is a true story written about Oppenlander’s parents, Günter and Lilly. Both of her parents grew up during World War II and this showcases their struggle through both Hitler’s Regime and Post-war Germany. Oppenlander’s ability to explore her parent’s past is remarkable. Showing both the bad and good things they did without sugar coating things to make her parents, and grandparents, seem like better people than they were. They were humanized through their faults and mistakes which made the novel read more like a historical fiction novel than a nonfiction novel. I truly forgot that it was a nonfiction book while reading it and only remembered when i got to the last 50 or so pages. Her ability to connect you to the characters also makes you want to read the snippets that she added to the back about what the characters are doing now. Which I also highly appreciated knowing about instead of their memory disappearing during their 20’s. I appreciated that Oppenlander focused more on Post-war Germany instead of the time period of Hitler's Regime. The Holocaust is important but many people at least have a general knowledge about concentration camps and Germany’s economic struggles. Often, however, it is assumed that Germany was fine after WWII ended, but this is not the case. It took many years for the economy to recover. Both Günter and Lilly struggle to find food and survive. Which is only different from during the war because Günter could be at home and not hiding from the Military so that he could avoid joining Hitler’s Army and parishing with the rest of his classmates. Curiously, there were somethings that were changed that could add some confusion as to how much of the novel is fact and what is fiction. Oppenlander adds in two fictional characters Herr Baum and Karl Huss. Both of these characters appear often in the novel itself. Oppenlander does state this in the Gallery of Characters at the back of the book and are based in some fact, but it does seem strange to put fictional characters in a nonfiction novel. Oppenlander does change a few names in the novel but she does this for clarity as both Lilly and Gerda’s real names are Helga. This makes sense to me to do as they are often together and this would become confusing to read, but I still have a hard time with making up characters. While the topic of this novel is a heavy one Oppenlander shows glimmers of hope through the friendships created and the love story that ultimately comes into fruition. I found myself hoping that Günter, Lilly, Helmut and Gerda had happy endings in a time where happy ending are few and far between. While she offers up hope she also shows heartbreak, with Günter’s difficulty to cope after the war was over and the economy finally took an upswing. With Lilly’s mother’s favoritism and her father and mother’s relationship. She combines the two beautifully, allowing the reader to have a full range of emotion in such a depressing time period, which makes for the novel to be not as emotionally taxing as WWII novels tend to be. I really enjoyed Surviving the Fatherland, and I’m glad that I was able to read it. I would recommend this specifically for people who don't know what Post-war Germany was like and those who want to learn about it. This novel is also good for people who usually enjoy Historical Fiction as this novel is not fact heavy and reads very much like a fiction novel.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ally Swanson

    ---4.5 Stars--- Wow! This book tells an impressive story of two children who are brave, courageous, and have the strength to fight against all odds to survive. This book tells the true story of two children, Lilly and Günter in the 1940s in Germany during the Hitler era. From right off the first page, I was emotionally invested in this book – it’s hard not to be. This story is based on the author’s family and you feel the authenticity and pain just leap off the page. My heart just broke reading what ---4.5 Stars--- Wow! This book tells an impressive story of two children who are brave, courageous, and have the strength to fight against all odds to survive. This book tells the true story of two children, Lilly and Günter in the 1940s in Germany during the Hitler era. From right off the first page, I was emotionally invested in this book – it’s hard not to be. This story is based on the author’s family and you feel the authenticity and pain just leap off the page. My heart just broke reading what these children endured and how they just kept going. I don’t know if I personally would have had the strength to keep going. It was inspiring to see their persistence and determination. The main characters, Lilly and Günter, are true, pure, and genuine. You will develop an instant bond with these characters and find yourself not only pulling for them, but praying for their safety and wellbeing. I honestly feel somewhat changed after reading this book. Not in a bad way, perhaps by now having a deeper understanding of empathy, insight, and compassion to children of war. As a millennial, I was lucky to have not grown up during war times. Yes, 9/11 was a sad, and forever changing time, but I lived in the U.S. and at no time did I ever feel unsafe or violated or tortured like others have had to endure during other war eras. This book was such an interesting and intriguing story and I found myself further invested in the characters and storyline than I expected to be or tend to be with other books. That should the definition of a great book – a book that causes you to feel the emotion of the characters and become fully engaged and invested in the characters and the storyline. I would recommend this book as this is such an important story to read and understand. Anyone that is put through such obscene and difficult obstacles deserves to have their story told and appreciated. Beware that you may need a box of tissues nearby, as this book is filled with so much emotion that will cause your heart to race, your eyes to water, and your body to cringe. I felt every sentence. **Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book and have voluntarily provided an honest, and unbiased review in accordance with FTC regulations.**

  18. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    This is a long book (almost 6 hours on the Kindle), although once I started it, it kept my attention all the way through to the end. I don't read as quickly these days as I used to, so it took me more than a week, but I did stop and start as well, so that accounts for some of the time. When you think of WWII, you think 'good vs bad', 'Hitler vs The World' and you forget that on both sides of the conflict there were ordinary, everyday people who farmed, worked in shops, were butchers, bakers, hous This is a long book (almost 6 hours on the Kindle), although once I started it, it kept my attention all the way through to the end. I don't read as quickly these days as I used to, so it took me more than a week, but I did stop and start as well, so that accounts for some of the time. When you think of WWII, you think 'good vs bad', 'Hitler vs The World' and you forget that on both sides of the conflict there were ordinary, everyday people who farmed, worked in shops, were butchers, bakers, housewives, teachers, children - people who simply worked hard every day to make ends meet, raise families, worked in their gardens, etc. There were also people swept up in the ideologies of a madman (madmen), who felt the cause and reason for the war was justified and worth the sacrifices. You read and hear plenty of stories of British and American soldiers, who fought against this fascism in far flung corners of the globe, and it's easy to lump all Germans into the 'Nazi/bad' category, when that is not the case. It's easy to become biased, and forget that it was actually Germans who plotted to kill Hitler (although it failed, it shows that not everyone believed in what he was doing). This is a story of two ordinary, everyday German kids who struggle through the war years, one being conscripted in the desperate last days of the German fight - while battle weary and hardened soldiers are deserting and trying to make it back home - and both just trying to survive whilst the British and Americans bomb cities flat, in an effort to intimidate the enemy. I enjoyed the majority of it, and only lost some interest when it started to become a bit like a cheesy romance towards the last 25% or so. I appreciate, however, that it's more or less a biography so the author (the daughter of the two main characters within) is trying to show how her parents survived a horrific time and despite everything, fell in love. Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for the ARC to read and review. All opinions are strictly my own.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Rae Stewart

    FABULOUS BOOK!!! Oh how I loved this book!! It was painful, ugly and miserable in so many ways throughout so many years. Anguish and gut wrenching times in everyone’s life throughout the war years and beyond as Germany tried to recover from the war. So much fear, starvation, deprivation of every kind, hard, hard work and the most difficult times that we can’t even comprehend going through, if we’ve never been through a war. Heartbreak and loneliness and betrayal. So much sadness! It’s incredible th FABULOUS BOOK!!! Oh how I loved this book!! It was painful, ugly and miserable in so many ways throughout so many years. Anguish and gut wrenching times in everyone’s life throughout the war years and beyond as Germany tried to recover from the war. So much fear, starvation, deprivation of every kind, hard, hard work and the most difficult times that we can’t even comprehend going through, if we’ve never been through a war. Heartbreak and loneliness and betrayal. So much sadness! It’s incredible that anyone could be “normal” again after what these people went through. Yet, it was love that saved them!! This book is also a beautiful love story. With happiness in the end!! I was so moved throughout the book. The author has an amazing way of sharing the true story of her parents and grandparents. She takes you right into their lives, their hearts and minds, and their situations. I always try to keep myself from underlining the entire book when I read one this great! So I gave myself the talk, but Annette wrote so wonderfully and I admit, I underlined almost the entire book! It’s so well written. I was right there with Lily and Gunter. It’s a beautiful, wonderful book. ♥️ The book also has historical facts about the war, including Germany, Russia, Hitler and the Nazi machine as well as information on the cities, destruction of areas, shops, building etc. etc. There’s so much that was covered about the war but also the clean up and restoration that took longer than the war did. Starvation continued for many for another 6-10 years following the war. It’s wonderful to hear how this family survived and generations continue on-because of love, dedication and commitment. Read this! It’s way at the top of wonderful books in my opinion!!! pamarella PRCS

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mel Richmond

    Trigger Warning: sexual abuse, neglect, PTSD descriptions Wow. Just wow. So, I love historical fiction and I love even more when it’s based on true events, but this story genuinely gripped me from start to finish. It’s rare that we find a story surrounding WW2 that are based around Germans living under the Nazi regime, but after reading this I’ve had my eyes opened... WIDE! This gorgeous yet surreal story follows Günter and Lilly from 1939-1950’s, taking us through the struggles of living under a Trigger Warning: sexual abuse, neglect, PTSD descriptions Wow. Just wow. So, I love historical fiction and I love even more when it’s based on true events, but this story genuinely gripped me from start to finish. It’s rare that we find a story surrounding WW2 that are based around Germans living under the Nazi regime, but after reading this I’ve had my eyes opened... WIDE! This gorgeous yet surreal story follows Günter and Lilly from 1939-1950’s, taking us through the struggles of living under a dictator - to post-war famine and despair. I had no idea, and am now feeling rather ignorant, that Germany took such a long time to heal after the war. I’ve also been given a view from the eyes of a German child growing up around all of this, and I am shook. This really is an incredible story. I, for one, have been guilty of thinking of Germany as a whole in the past when initially learning of Hitler’s rise to power, and over the years have tried to educate myself on how such an evil man and regime could comity all of these horrendous acts. But what I should have taken into account, were all those innocent German citizens who had no choice for those years he was in power, and what they had to deal with afterward. And it really does send chills through me. Lilly and Günter’s story is about family, survival, trauma and love. It has some uncomfortable moments throughout this story but I would 10/10 recommend and it’s a book I will definitely read again in the future!!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dianeparente62gmail.com

    This was a gripping tale of young people growing up in Nazi Gemany, enduring things no child should have to experience. It is based on the experiences of the author's German parents from 1940-1953, the trauma of the post-war years being a relatively unknown story. The story is told by Lilli, only seven years old when the war begins, and by the slightly older boy Gunther who lead separate lives until the war draws to a close.Their stories reveal the traumatic impact of a fatherless home where hung This was a gripping tale of young people growing up in Nazi Gemany, enduring things no child should have to experience. It is based on the experiences of the author's German parents from 1940-1953, the trauma of the post-war years being a relatively unknown story. The story is told by Lilli, only seven years old when the war begins, and by the slightly older boy Gunther who lead separate lives until the war draws to a close.Their stories reveal the traumatic impact of a fatherless home where hunger and fear of bombings are constant companions and where children are forced to abandon their childhood to provide for the family in trying, dangerous conditions. The struggle. for survival of the German people whose lives are controlled by Hitler will remain etched in the reader's memories. The amazing resourcefulness of the book's young people and their willingness to build their future on forgiveness and love are an unforgettable testament to the resilience of the human spirit. This novel will elicit anger, questions, and a deeper understanding of the World War Two experience of ordinary German people caught up in a painful, often overwhelming whirlwind, unleashed by forces beyond their control. A word of caution to those who read the Kindle version of this book: unexpected grammatical errors will occasionally halt the flow of the narrative.

  22. 5 out of 5

    EskieMama & Dragon Lady Reads

    This is the most intense book that I have read, do I believe it, I most certainly do, both my parents are survivors of the war that was supposed to end all wars, my Mother spent 2 years in a concentration camp, and why because a maniac took over Germany and then just about destroyed, not caring what he did or how much his people suffered. A true story of how children survived the atrocities imposed by Hitler and his henchman. Lilly and Gunter are the image of how young children dealt with the war This is the most intense book that I have read, do I believe it, I most certainly do, both my parents are survivors of the war that was supposed to end all wars, my Mother spent 2 years in a concentration camp, and why because a maniac took over Germany and then just about destroyed, not caring what he did or how much his people suffered. A true story of how children survived the atrocities imposed by Hitler and his henchman. Lilly and Gunter are the image of how young children dealt with the war and how they coped with the atrocities of seeing their Fathers go to war, how they survived the bombings and the brutality of some men and how some people were allies and friends during this time of darkness. Here we see what happened in their lives and that of their Families, how each one dealt with what was thrown at them and how they survived, and how their lives were shaped after the war. To those who are interested this is a book well worth reading as it shows you a different side of the war, it shows it from the eyes of children during the war and how things shaped for them when they grew up. Annette Oppenlander thank you so very much for a story well worth reading. I received a free copy for my honest review! Review by Jara

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Bronder

    Whenever I think of a WWII story, the first thing that comes to mind is how the Jews suffered in the concentration camps. It’s easy to think of the Germans as being Jew hating monsters. But in reality many of the Germans were just trying to survive the war the best they could. This is a story of two children and how they survived the war. Lilly and Gunter are kids that are missing their father who has gone off to fight in the war. But things are not any easier for them even if they are German. T Whenever I think of a WWII story, the first thing that comes to mind is how the Jews suffered in the concentration camps. It’s easy to think of the Germans as being Jew hating monsters. But in reality many of the Germans were just trying to survive the war the best they could. This is a story of two children and how they survived the war. Lilly and Gunter are kids that are missing their father who has gone off to fight in the war. But things are not any easier for them even if they are German. Their mother has to entertain men just to make it through. Both kids do what they can just to survive too. They all face tough decisions and find themselves is very bad situations. This is a touching story that is hard to read. It’s heartbreaking to follow along with the children but there is that glimmer of hope that they will survive. It’s so easy to sweep the past under a rug and pretend that it didn’t happen. But books like this show you true heart and the willingness to keep fighting no matter what. This is an amazing story and one that I feel everyone needs to read. Annette Oppenlander is a wonderful author and I can’t wait to read more books from her. I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Turkdal

    Bought this book, then set it aside. Found it last weekend. The book became my partner up until the last page! I found it to be a telling and true writing of the hard and ever worsening life regular Germans lived during WWII while the battles continued year after year. The characters of the book are well developed and detailed, perhaps moreso as they were the author's real life parents, family, friends and aquaintances of the two main characters, Lilly & Gunter. I have done much reading trying t Bought this book, then set it aside. Found it last weekend. The book became my partner up until the last page! I found it to be a telling and true writing of the hard and ever worsening life regular Germans lived during WWII while the battles continued year after year. The characters of the book are well developed and detailed, perhaps moreso as they were the author's real life parents, family, friends and aquaintances of the two main characters, Lilly & Gunter. I have done much reading trying to understand how the Germans could allow hitler to pull off his war. I have learned through history that after WWI, the Germans were badly in need of a leader to bring them out of the leftover devestation from WWI. Sadly, hitler took over that slot and through devious means created a method of fear and intimidation with the population of Germany that encouraged/forced them to follow his dictates. Surviving the Fatherland is not only of a historical value, it it written from the view of childen, then teens and young twenties, experiencing wartime in WWII. This book shall remain in my collection as a worthy read on WWII life.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Duffy

    The only reason I didn't give this book 5* is that I keep that for my absolute favourite books of all time that I will read and read again. I really loved this book, It tells the true life story of Lily and Gunter over 13 year growing up in WW2 Germany. War is harrowing for all but even more so for children growing up, watching parents and older siblings going off to war, many never to be seen again or to return very different people both physically and mentally to those that left. The mere stru The only reason I didn't give this book 5* is that I keep that for my absolute favourite books of all time that I will read and read again. I really loved this book, It tells the true life story of Lily and Gunter over 13 year growing up in WW2 Germany. War is harrowing for all but even more so for children growing up, watching parents and older siblings going off to war, many never to be seen again or to return very different people both physically and mentally to those that left. The mere struggle to survive taking up every waking moment and then adjusting to the world that is created around them. In Lilys' and Gunters' cases it was even more difficult being in Germany where the wrong opinion or action could be regarded as disloyal or traitorous to Hitlers Third Reich and have severe consequences. This book is also a reminder that the ordinary German person was completely different to the Nazis and that they suffered just as much as any ordinary person in England or any of the Allied countries.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. Based on the true story of two children growing up in Nazi Germany, Surviving the Fatherland is historical fiction at its best. To see the effects of this war from a German child’s view is a perspective I haven’t read before. It’s difficult to read parts of this book knowing that these things actually happened. The innocent Germans who just tried to survive are usually forgotten w I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. Based on the true story of two children growing up in Nazi Germany, Surviving the Fatherland is historical fiction at its best. To see the effects of this war from a German child’s view is a perspective I haven’t read before. It’s difficult to read parts of this book knowing that these things actually happened. The innocent Germans who just tried to survive are usually forgotten when talking about World War II. What German families had to endure under Hitler’s regime and afterward is unthinkable and it’s hard to think about the fact that it wasn’t that long ago. Annette Oppenlander does such a good job at describing what Lilly and Günter go through that I felt like I was sitting there listening to their stories first-hand. Surviving the Fatherland is a story of courage, love, and hope during a time of war and rebuilding. Knowing that it’s based on the lives of the author’s parents makes it even more compelling.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brett

    The romance part of the book was okay, but the set up of the story was amazingly well researched and well written. You really feel like you're there in Germany, during and after the war. You're struggling alongside Günter and Lilly, and you admire their strength and courage through it all. I didn't like that the book focused more on Lilly, especially towards the end, because the book was equally about both characters. This could have been a female-bias, or the author felt uncomfortable fleshing The romance part of the book was okay, but the set up of the story was amazingly well researched and well written. You really feel like you're there in Germany, during and after the war. You're struggling alongside Günter and Lilly, and you admire their strength and courage through it all. I didn't like that the book focused more on Lilly, especially towards the end, because the book was equally about both characters. This could have been a female-bias, or the author felt uncomfortable fleshing out Günter's time in Switzerland due to a lack of solid information to make it realistic. Either way, the last 1/4 th of the book is not satisfactory. But the real photos and bios at the end is so interesting, seeing how each character (for the most part) is real and had a different story to tell. A great read with a wide variety of characters, stretching over a decade, all struggling to get by because of Hitler's regime and the after-effects of the war.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarah MacIntyre

    I love historical fiction particularly around WW2 but this book is extra special as it is based on the true story of the parents of the author. This story is incredible - a totally different side of the war that I had little knowledge of - the German civilians. The saga follows the couple as children growing up during and after the war. It does not hide any of the horror of the madness of Hitler and the atrocities during this time but gives the side of the innocent civilians caught in this madne I love historical fiction particularly around WW2 but this book is extra special as it is based on the true story of the parents of the author. This story is incredible - a totally different side of the war that I had little knowledge of - the German civilians. The saga follows the couple as children growing up during and after the war. It does not hide any of the horror of the madness of Hitler and the atrocities during this time but gives the side of the innocent civilians caught in this madness. The people were truly in famine with nothing left. It covers the bravery of these young teens and how they coped. I was particularly moved by the bringing of the country back together. How the young adults made up for their lost youth and how people had to overlook and move on from what their neighbours and colleagues had done and been during the war. A five star read. I will be recommending to all my friends and family.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gina-marie Fanning

    It’s nice to read about what it was like from a German point of view, who were as utterly enraged at the atrocities done by their leader. I’ve read so much books from those that were persecuted by Hitler, but this story looks at how the war affected the Germans, themselves. A good lot of them also starved, as their men and boys were taken, to fight and die as nazis, whether they believed in what they were fighting for, or not. This left German women and children vulnerable, and easily exploited. It’s nice to read about what it was like from a German point of view, who were as utterly enraged at the atrocities done by their leader. I’ve read so much books from those that were persecuted by Hitler, but this story looks at how the war affected the Germans, themselves. A good lot of them also starved, as their men and boys were taken, to fight and die as nazis, whether they believed in what they were fighting for, or not. This left German women and children vulnerable, and easily exploited. I had a German friend that was refused service, when she tried to buy a coffee, in France. I feel it’s important to look at Germans in a different way, because not all Germans were nazis, and not all nazis were German. This book is a great read, if you want to really look in-depth, to what life was like for those whose voices are not generally heard. Not accepted. It’s time to hear them all, and remember well into the future, what was done so we can learn from our mistakes.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Réal Laplaine

    It is difficult not to give this book, Surviving the Fatherland, by Annette Oppenlander, a five-star rating. Surviving the Fatherland is an historical fiction based on true events, the lives of those who survived World War II, during the war and then in post-war Germany. As one reads this story of survival, told from the perspective of one young girl, her trials and tribulations of eking out an existence in a nation depleted of food and resources, most of them being siphoned off by Hitler’s insa It is difficult not to give this book, Surviving the Fatherland, by Annette Oppenlander, a five-star rating. Surviving the Fatherland is an historical fiction based on true events, the lives of those who survived World War II, during the war and then in post-war Germany. As one reads this story of survival, told from the perspective of one young girl, her trials and tribulations of eking out an existence in a nation depleted of food and resources, most of them being siphoned off by Hitler’s insane thirst for war and power, we live with her through the daily routines, the suffering, the emotional ups and downs, the sacrifices and the tangible fear of not only the on-going war, but how to survive in its aftermath. This story seems vaguely surreal as one reads it because it is difficult to imagine that just seven decades ago the worst war in human history happened, and the depth of suffering which people endured – if they lived to see it to its end. We look around today and see a world rebuilt, with hardly a vestige of that conflict visible, and yet, in the minds of those who navigated it, who lived on potatoes and onions, if that, who scrambled through the rubble for necessities, who sat in bomb shelters as their world was destroyed around them – and moreover, innocent people who were neither supporters of nor even soldiers in Hitler’s madness, the traumas and memories they carried with them would never disappear. In spite of the time and the ambient war which Lilly and her family must survive, the story is not gruesome, but rather, it is a statement about the depth and strength of the human soul, and ultimately, really, of the love that drives people on in spite of all the reasons not to love. Highly recommended. A book that truly reminds us just how horrible war is, and that the victims of war are far more than just the soldiers who fought it, but in fact, the civilians who emerged from the rubble and had to rebuild the broken world in its aftermath. Book review also available at International Writers Inspiring Change

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...