Sunday, July 8, 2012
The newest of over 50 reviews on Amazon
"A salute to your courage, Evchen" By Mala (New Delhi, India) This review is from: Abandoned and Forgotten: An Orphan Girl's Tale of Survival During World War II (Kindle Edition) While we learn about the dark, dark side of human nature, in stories of survival we also see unbelievable courage, endurance and intelligence. I find these stories make me relook at my life, be doubly thankful for what I have, while still trying to take something away from these examples of courage. It is with this reasoning that I read and was completely amazed by the story of one of East Prussia's "Wolfkinder" or Wolf Children; kids orphaned or abandoned during World War II. The war, from their point of view, is rarely seen by anyone. As is true with Evelyne Tannehill, a little girl who should have been playing with the dolls she desperately wanted, but who instead found herself abandoned and forgotten. Evelyne, or Eva, lived in East Prussia (now Poland?) with her family. They were farmers and everyday life consisted of chasing the geese, playing with the cat, and waiting for presents from generous rich aunts. Then the war began. East Prussia became "Nazified" with no one being given much of a choice about whether to be part of Hitler's worldview or not. Then too, there was a with-us-or-against-us policy. If, as a German, you ddn't join the Hitler Youth, for example, you were slowly pushed out of school. Not before being hated by the classmates you had fun with not a few weeks earlier. The Nazis changed life as everyone knew it, but then along came the Russians, descending on the little quiet towns and villages of East Prussia like fiends from hell, raping, destroying, looting. Eva's parents' farm was destroyed. Her father disappeared, possibly shipped off to Siberia for his anti-Hitler views. Some of Eva's siblings suffered too - but some got away. At the age of nine, little Eva found herself all alone. Her mother hand died of typhoid, and also raped for good measure minutes before she died. At such hard times, who wants to take responsibility for a nine-year-old kid? Someone else's kid. In her book, written much much later, we see just how lonely and baffled this poor little girl was. We see what she had to do to survive at an age when we molly coddle our kids and shield them from knowing too much about the word they live in. Eva was thrown around from one place to the other with people who didn't want her. She even became a little slave on her own farm, treated harshly and pretty much starved into submission. Up until then, her brother was with her. But he just walked off, leaving her to her fate. How do you come to terms with that, when it's all over? Eva's story isn't just a story - it's true. Evelyne only now refers to herself as being happy because her children and husband make up her world. But it was only after she was able to let the buried pain of so many years ago burst through in a book. It's a book that's beautifully written, gripping and heart wrenching. The first segment of this story was extremely descriptive, sometimes making me impatient as I felt the start of a story hadn't really been established. In retrospect, the descriptions fell into perspective as one realized that each little detail had its place in the book. A book I'm glad I read, even if it made me sad and marvel afresh at the cruelty and unfairness we can heap upon each other.