While at BEA, I met Susan Dworkin and got a signed copy of her book. The subtitle to this novel is “How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust”. This was a fascinating story about how Edith, a young Jewish woman in Vienna, survived WWII through an incredible series of circumstances, including, at one point, being married to a German officer and being a “hausfrau”.
Edith was born in Vienna in 1914 into a well-to-do and educated Jewish family. She always wanted to study law and was doing so when she was denied her final exams and degree because she was Jewish. She and her family were sent to the ghetto and then she was sent to a labor camp, working first on a farm and then in a paper factory. She survived harsh conditions for months, then escaped as she was being sent “home” (she realized it was to a concentration camp). Edith hid for a while, then borrowed a brave friend’s identity papers and went to Germany, getting a job at the Red Cross and passing herself off as Christian. There she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi officer. He wanted to marry her, but Edith felt she must reveal her true self to him first. Vetter and she married and she lived as a housewife until the war was over. While this is much more a summary than I usually give, believe me, it’s only the tip of the iceberg in this book. The amount of scary circumstances, the coincidences, the heartfelt yearning she had for her mother, her life of living a lie – plus all the events post WWII, well it made for fascinating and inspiring reading.
The story reads as a memoir, with Edith’s voice strongly standing out. You can picture her telling her story to Ms. Dworkin as you read. It was published about 15 years ago, though I had never come across it. A documentary was also made on Edith’s life, but it looks like it only aired in the UK. Edith Hahn Beer died in 2009.
You can find this book at an Indie near you — I am an Indie Bound Affiliate. Read it and be inspired.