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Eleanor's Story: An American Girl in Hitler's Germany

Eleanor's Story: An American Girl in Hitler's Germany

4.6 16
by Eleanor Ramrath Garner

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Eleanor's Story is the dramatic autobiography of Eleanor Ramrath Garner's youth, growing up as an American caught in World War II Berlin. It's a story of trying to maintain stability, hope, and identity in a world of terror and contrasts. During the Great Depression, when she is nine, Eleanor's family moves from her beloved America to Germany, where her father has


Eleanor's Story is the dramatic autobiography of Eleanor Ramrath Garner's youth, growing up as an American caught in World War II Berlin. It's a story of trying to maintain stability, hope, and identity in a world of terror and contrasts. During the Great Depression, when she is nine, Eleanor's family moves from her beloved America to Germany, where her father has been offered a good job. But war breaks out as her family is crossing the Atlantic, and they cannot return to the United States. Eleanor tries to maintain her American identity as she feels herself pulled into the turbulent life roiling around her. She fervently hopes for an Allied victory, yet for years she must try to survive the Allied bombs shattering her neighborhood. Her family faces separations, bombings, hunger, the final fierce battle for Berlin, the Russian invasion, and the terrors of Soviet occupancy. This compelling story immerses us in the daily struggles of surviving World War II as a civilian. It puts a very human face on the horrors of war and helps us understand that each casualty of war is a person, not a number.

Editorial Reviews

When Eleanor Ramrath was two, during the Great Depression, she and her brother were sent from America to live with their German grandparents. Their father had lost his job as an engineer and the parents were economically unable to care for their children. Four years later the children sailed back across the ocean and were united with their mother and father. The family economy was still precarious, and in 1938, when Mr. Ramrath was offered a two-year appointment with a prestigious German engineering firm he accepted, in spite of the serious warnings from his fellow German immigrants about the course of the German state. Four days into the voyage Germany invaded Poland, and the fate of the family was sealed. They settled in Berlin, an exciting and wealthy city; the family entered into the cultural and social life with appreciation. Eleanor and brother Frank joined the Hitler Youth. The children were barely aware of the worry of their parents as Germany invaded France and occupied Paris. When the retaliatory raids from the British began, the elder Ramraths made plans to return to the United States. In the spring of 1941 Eleanor, her brother and father were granted exit visas, as were all US citizens. Mrs. Ramrath was denied a visa as she had never taken out US citizenship. The three refused to leave without the mother. Over the course of the war two more children were born. The older children were from time to time again sent to live with their grandparents for safety's sake. Friendships were cemented amidst horror and destruction. The family was careful to keep its political sympathies to themselves. The Ramraths were together when the Russians entered Berlin. Edith's description of a cityunder siege is all the more poignant because of the peculiar situation the family was in. They hoped that the Americans would liberate their part of the city but that was not to be. Some Russians set up a communication unit in the Ramrath apartment and they were relieved because this would afford them some protection from the marauding soldiers. Starving, they coached the little brother to beg the Russians for bread. Frank became one of the many teenagers operating in the black market. Edith's dream of quick return to the US and life in the quiet New Jersey town she had left as a little girl was not realized. It was not until the summer of 1946 that the two older children and the father returned to America. They were not to see the other members of the family until the next summer when all were united in Boston. They had been gone nine years. The author is especially adept at describing the common adolescent emotions that surface even in the most complicated of times. The book has won many awards, including the International Reading Association's Children's Book Award and Teacher's Choice Book Award. KLIATT Codes: SA*-Exceptional book, recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1999, Peachtree, 269p., Ages 15 to adult.
— Penelope Power
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-When the author was nine, her parents elected to return to their native Germany, where her father had been offered an attractive job. Though it was 1939 and Hitler had already invaded Czechoslovakia, her family saw only opportunity in their decision. While they were crossing the Atlantic, war was declared and their emigration became irrevocable. Garner was not to see America again until she was 16. The family members spent much of the war in Berlin and suffered hardships and privations and lived in fear. Yet, it is to Garner's credit that she does not make them out to be more heroic than they were. They escaped bombs, bullets, conscription, malnutrition, and molestation. Every member of her immediate family survived the war. This required considerable resourcefulness, occasional bravery, and an extraordinary amount of luck. It is curious that when the author was 13, she stumbled upon the concentration camp at Waldenburg, but didn't mention it to her mother. She says that she wondered, "What is this place?-A prison camp? Who are these people? Are they the ones who work in the factory?" Even as an adult writing this memoir, she doesn't confront the truth that this was a concentration camp. The writing is pedestrian and somewhat dry and the characters are memorable only for their ordinariness and pettiness. Still, this is a unique survival story that libraries may want to own.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|

Product Details

Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
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File size:
4 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Eleanor Ramrath Garner attended Boston University, and pursued a career as a permissions editor for textbook publishers for many years. In addition to being a published non-fiction writer, Garner is an exhibited artist. She lives in California.

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Eleanor's Story: An American Girl in Hitler's Germany 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The memoir Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany by Eleanor Ramrath Garner describes the horrors of war that plague the citizens of the warring countries. Eleanor spares no detail when she tells the story of her family’s grim past and provides the full story. She uses a lot of German terminology and explains the culture of the country in that time period. This was an extremely well-written book; however, the beginning was rather slow and hard in which to become interested. I’d rate this book four out of five stars, for it was a superb book besides the beginning. I would recommend reading this book to anyone interested in World War II. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is a very interesting story. While I was reading this, I could picture everything that they mentioned. I think that this book was very interesting. The main idea of this book was that they were hiding from the Germans and the bombs. They moved several places and mainly because the father got other jobs. When they moved back to America, the mother had to stay in Berlin with the children because they didn’t have enough money to send her. The author told all about her life growing up. “Eleanor’s Story” may not be fun to read, but it is interesting to find out what they went through. Eleanor is a very brave girl and I think that young adults that are interested in history should definitely read this book. This story about An American Girl was a very interesting book. The young girl wanted to stay in America with her friends and stay at her school. When Eleanor was nine her family moved from America to Germany, where her dad got a great job. The war breaks loose while her family is crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Eleanor’s parents were kind, brave, and helpful. Her father wanted her to keep up in school, have a good attitude, and stay out of trouble. Eleanor had many friends from each place she moved. Her godfather died of cancer and her mother was pregnant, and was often exhausted. When Anne’s birthday came, she had another little girl, Eleanor’s wish. Eleanor thought her mother forgot about her birthday, but she didn’t. Eleanor had very nice friends that cared for her and wanted her to have a good birthday. In the story, the events that took place were in order from each event that happened. I was a little bit confused when they all went back to American and left the mother and two of the children behind. Mother already had a tough time, why couldn’t Eleanor or Frank stay with her? The main characters in this story were Frank, Eleanor, Tommy, Elizabeth, the mother, and the father. “Eleanor’s story” is a very interesting book for young adults to read! It talks about real life events and the trouble they had. The vocabulary in the book was difficult at times, but other than that, it was easy to understand. Any young adult that is interested in history and the life in Germany would more than likely enjoy this book. When you first open the book, it shows a map where they traveled. This book is kind of sad when they have to hide and they had to leave the mother, Tommy, and Elizabeth behind. By the end of the story, Eleanor was sixteen years old and staying with a roommate and she wished Annemarie was there with her. I enjoyed reading Eleanor’s Story. It was very interesting and I would like to read more books that she wrote. The main idea of this book was that they were hiding from the Germans and the bombs. The author told us all about her life while she was growing up. She had a sister, two brothers, and parents that took care of her. She was nine years old when her family moved from America to Germany, where her dad got a good job. Her grandfather died of cancer but just then, her mother was pregnant and they didn’t know the gender of the baby until it was born. She helped out her mother a lot with the baby because her mother was always exhausted. Her birthday present was that her mother had another baby, but this time it was a girl which was Eleanor’s wish!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I gives you another perspective of being a victim of war. This is one of the best books I have ever read. It can make you laugh, and it can make you cry. All together, it is a wonderful book.
BerlinEdith More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, I convinced my mother to read it. It took a lot of convincing. My mother,Edith, is 4 years older than Eleanor. That is about the only difference between them. My mother can attest the story as truth. She lived the same life, an American living in Berlin during the war. They could have been on the same freedom ship back to the U.S. I wish I could thank Ms. Garner for writing her story because I now understand what my mother could not speak of.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first time I read this I was twelve, and it became one of my favorite historical books. The book is rich in detail and you can feel all the emotions Eleanor felt then. The story is hearttrending because her family was stuck in Germany and lived in danger, even though they were from America. I also loved how Eleanor Ramrath Garner incorporated nature in her memoir such as the bouquet of forysthia, the robin birds, etc to show how the smallest things in life can bring hope to a girl and her family. I was halfway done with the book when I realized that Eleanor in the book was actually the author 'I hadn't looked at who wrote it'. That made the story at lot more meaningful and powerful for her to be able to survive during then. P.S. The book that I had checked out of the library had a different cover 'green' and I think it looks a lot better than this edition's cover.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book grabs your attention and makes you sit down and read it
Guest More than 1 year ago
I guess for this one you would have to like history. I thought the begining was really slow but once it got into the accual story it was pretty good. I have read better, but I am also not a historical type.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjjoyed reading eleanors story. it was intresting and real to see how a survivor of ww2 survived and struggled to do that. All eleanor wanted to do was to be back in america and not to thoink of the gray dullness of berlin! She faces hunger, taking care of her siblings,chores,staying in contact with friends, and most of all survivng the war. she witness many killins and even saw one of her friends die. but she knew she had to look away because things were just begging to happen Like she once asid 'isnt it great to be alive and young'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Eleanor's Story: An American Girl in Hitler's Germany An extremely good book I thought. if you like war stories, Nazi occupation and and reading about real life struggles this book is for you. Eleanor's family after living in New Jersey for some time leave the country, heading to Berlin on a job offer too good to pass up. Upon their emigration to Germany for a well paying job in a factory, war is declared trapping the Garner family. The Garners soon after are deprived, attacked, shot at, and upon many other things fear for their lives. Eleanor¿s Story shows of German tactics from the perspective of a child, showing the techniques of the leaders of Germany to control their people. I would recommend this book to any and all who enjoy reading about war and the aftermath of it. Some parts in this book at not appropriate for the younger children even know I dont think somone very young wouldbe into book like this! But fair warning. 5 stars Scott
Guest More than 1 year ago
Eleanor's Story is a great book. It really moved me and taught me to appreciate living in American so much more. I am really glad that my teacher showed me this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Eleanor's story it was fun to whatch a nine year old girl grow to becom a young lady. Eleanor was so full of life. She also kept me wondering what was going to happen next.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This autobiography is about a girl named Eleanor. Her and her family had to move to Nazi Germany because her father was offered a great job. It tells how Eleanor and her family had to cope with being American in a country at war with America. They had to overcome many hardships, such as malnutrition, air raids, bullets, and molestation, to survive the war. The book illustrates how hard it was to live in a country at war. It presents a history of World War II that many people don't relize. It shows that many innocent Germans also had to suffer the consequences of living in country at war. After reading this book I have a whole new look on life. I don¿t take the small things for granted, anymore. I also have a lot more respect for anyone who survived that horrific war! I would highly recommend this book because it is so fascinating, and really grabs your attention!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tells the story of Eleanor, a nine year old girl pushed into the unfortunate circumstances of being an innocent resident of Berlin, Germany. Tells the coming-of-age story about what it was like to not only live through the torment of witnessing suicide, death of loved ones and constant fear but also about the absence marked in her adolescent years growing up with these issues. This book was meant for young adults, but adults can well enjoy it too! I love history and World War II and I learned so much about the small details never discussed in school, I couldn't put the book down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a young girl Eleanor¿s life is changed suddenly when her family moves from the United States to World War II torn Germany. In the true story Eleanor¿s Story author Eleanor Ramrath Garner tells about her life as a child in Germany during World War II. She tells how hard it was for her family in Berlin not knowing if their loved ones are alive or not. The way she explains the everyday fight to find food and the constant bombings on the city keeps you reading. She also explains how it was difficult for her to adjust to the German schools and the language there. As she grows her dream of returning to America fades with the constant fear, and the thought of death and starvation. Luckily Eleanor¿s dream eventually comes true. This is an excellent story that keeps you wondering if the family will come out of the war in one piece. Erin H.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was fabulous. Sometimes I laughed, sometimes I cried. It really made me appreciate life more and think 'Hey, it could be worse. I could be living like Eleanor!'
Guest More than 1 year ago
A definite page-turner. Compelling and devastating account of the insanity of Nazi Germany and its aftermath '1939-1946' from one girl's perspective. Haunting memoir by Eleanor Ramrath Garner. No young heart should have to witness and endure so much, and yet, she and her family were 'lucky' survivors. In spite of her circumstances, Eleanor is a joyful heart with emotional strength who manages to cherish the good during this tragic time. I especially appreciated the honest way she described her family, flawed in many ways, but dearly loved. Highly recommended, with a caution for readers, as this book does deal honestly with the realities of war and death. The book really transported me to wartorn Germany and what it was like to be a civilian in Europe during World War II.