Monday, August 6

The Nazi Officer's Wife

We recently attended the Tish B'Av service at a local synagogue, and before the service they showed a documentary called The Nazi Officer's Wife. I was so intrigued that I checked out a copy of the book by the same name. It is the memoir of Edith Hahn Beer, a Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust by faking her identity. By an incredible series of events, she went from a hunted fugitive in Vienna to the Third Reich's most valuable type of citizen - the childbearing wife of a Nazi officer.

Her memoir examines all of the trials and stresses of a "U-Boat," a Jew hiding from Nazi persecution in plain sight, surrounded by the sea of anti-Semitism that permeated every aspect of society. Her story shows the incredible resourcefulness and courage that often marks Holocaust narratives, while also going on to describe the rejection she faced from fellow Jews after the war because she had not suffered enough.

I think I was so captivated by her story because it exemplified realities of the war in middle-class Germany society (through the eyes of a Jew) that I only read about in historical sources - how good life was during the earlier years of the war, the complete silence and avoidance of any recognition that Jews used to live there, the horror of the Russians coming, and life after the war including a deep fear of the Jews returning in vengeance.

If you're interested in Holocaust literature, this is a definitely a book to add to your reading list.

3 comments:

Dave said...

light reading, eh?

Susan said...

You know me. . .

tom & leah said...

good summary, su. i'm in, just as long as you return it to the library before it's due.