A WRITER'S WIT
My Book World
Story of Courage and Survival on Both
Sides of the Berlin Wall. New York:
Just under twenty-one, young Hanna flees East Germany to pursue a life of freedom in the West, and she must do it twice to succeed. The second escape, however, sticks, and she makes a life in America.
Her daughter, Nina, is the author of this amazing and absorbing account of what the division of Germany following World War II did to Hanna’s family. Under the heavy thumb of Erich Honecker, the East German regime was perhaps more repressive than its mother, the Soviet Union.
This forty-year tale follows the lives of those left in East Germany, as well as the life of Hanna and her children in America. Daughter Nina winds up working for the US government in West Germany and comes very close to where her family lives, but she is unable to visit with them or even let them know she is present.
Hanna’s father, Opa, is a respected and revered school teacher in the town where they live, but eventually he is exiled to a small village because he will not fully support the Communist line. His children who remain in East Germany, however, become somewhat more compliant, although none of them ever joins the Communist party—which does inhibit their success.
Wellner’s story of how the family finally unites after forty autumns is more than touching; it is the richest kind of poignancy.
NEXT TIME: My Journey of States-13 New Jersey