FRAUEN by Alison Owings

FRAUEN

German Women Recall the Third Reich
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Powerful testimony from 29 German women survivors of the Third Reich that provides not only a stunning portrait of life on the home front but also insights into a society that spawned both Hitler and the Holocaust. Wanting to find out why German women ``did not behave like the humane peacemakers, the nurturers that people believe women really are, [and] stop the Nazis,'' Owings, a TV news-writer based in California, visited and revisited her subjects over a period of years, usually in their homes, where she was cordially received. Those interviewed include a former concentration-camp guard; the widow of a Resistance hero; a lifelong Communist residing in what was then East Germany; and an unrepentant Nazi schoolteacher. Also offering testimony are Lotte Muller, a plumber, who was sent to Ravensbruck--the notorious women's camp--because of her Communist connections; former countess Maria von Lingen, who always thought of herself as more a European than a German; Margret Blersch, a physician who helped save people the ``Nazis would have murdered;'' and Erna Dubnak, a low-paid worker who hid her ``dear friend'' Hilda Naumann, a Jew, throughout the war. During the war, most of the women endured great hardships as bombing raids intensified, food grew scarce, and the Russians advanced. The collapse of the German economy and the climate of fear that the Nazis created initially ensured the support of many of Owens's subjects--but according to Freya von Moltke, whose husband was executed by the Nazis, even those who didn't support Hitler carry a burden of guilt: ``People who lived through the Nazi time, and who still live, who did not lose their lives because they were opposed, all had to make compromises.'' Oral history at its best, and a much-needed record of WW II German women, who ``faced the day-to-day consequences of the Third Reich with impudence or despair, hesitation or hope, with shame, and with blinders.'' (First printing of 7,500)

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1993
ISBN: 0-8135-1992-6
Page count: 550pp
Publisher: Rutgers Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1993




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