To Lose a War: Memories of a German Girl / Edition 22 available in Hardcover
- Pub. Date:
- Southern Illinois University Press
Martin Blumenson refers to this book as a “sensitive, beautifully written personal memoir,” and calls it a contribution to understanding, “particularly to Americans who know little of how World War II and its immediate aftermath disrupted the lives of those who survived the defeat of Germany.”
Vividly, humanly, Shelton tells her story from the point of view of a teen-age German girl, one who witnessed her country’s surge to power and who felt the ignominy of both Germany and Germans after the fall. She reaches a point during the war when “Sometimes the way we now live seems unreal, as if we were marionettes, with orders and permits and schedules attached to us instead of strings.”
But after the defeat of Germany life gets considerably worse. The victorious Russians evict the natives from their homes. They sneer and leer at the women who must venture forth for food. In this defeated land “the nights become unbearably long; without any physical activity by day, sleep refuses to come. I yearn for sleep, be it temporary or eternal. Death is becoming a friend; the enemy has a new name now: Rape.”
Then comes the dreaded order to evacuate all Germans from Lower Silesia: “How can a whole people be uprooted, disowned, tossed aside like useless flotsamhow? With the stroke of a pen, with a new line drawn on a map, we are sentenced to homelessness.” Not knowing where they will be sent, they plod out into darkness and cold with the other Germans, their worldly goods reduced to what they can carry. Embittered, they are herded into vermin-infested freight cars, still unaware of their destination.
About the Author
Regina Maria Shelton is now Reserve Room Supervisor at Morris Library at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.