Tilli's Story: My Thoughts Are Free by Tilli Schulze, Lorna Collier
“This compelling memoir of a German girl's bitter, frightening life reveals the horrors visited upon an average family caught between two of the cruelest dictators in history…. The small, poignant touches are riveting.” —Kirkus Discoveries
I think about what I want and what makes me happy,
But orderly and quietly to myself.
Because my thoughts tear down fortresses and walls,
My thoughts are free.
—German folk song, author unknown
The beautiful, safe, joyful places in young Tilli’s imagination were her only refuge from the bombing that tore through the sky above her during World War II. Her thoughts were her only freedom from Hitler’s Nazi tyranny, and they were her strength to survive after the war ended, when Russians invaded her tiny farming village in eastern Germany; forced her into months of hiding in a dark attic crawlspace; and took her innocence, her childhood, and nearly her life.
Tilli’s dreams—of a time when she could think and act freely, and travel, work, write, worship, and live however she wished—were what fueled the sixteen-year-old to courageously and single-handedly escape the terror of Stalin’s harsh Communist rule and create her own happy ending in a free America.
This true tale of sorrow and terror, hope and triumph, is Tilli’s story—but it’s also the story of the unthinkable suffering and untold bravery of countless innocent children who have lived through a war and its aftermath. The book appeals to both young adult and adult audiences and is a good adjunct to a Holocaust or government unit in middle school and high school. It also is a book club favorite. A book club reader's guide and a classroom study guide are provided, along with photos, maps, an author interview, and other details.