A diary of a young girl that spans 14 years, from just before World War II through its aftermath.
Diehm-Dietrich has painstakingly translated and published these diaries, which she began writing in 1939 when she was a 13-year-old girl living in Mannheim, Germany, and war was still just a rumor. At the time, politics were what adults talked about, and she was more interested in thinking about boys and friends. When air raids began and became more and more frequent, however, the war increasingly pervaded her thoughts and her life. The ways that the war seeped into her everyday existence weren’t all as dramatic as bombings, but it seems that the people in her life became increasingly violent, which allows readers to consider the effects of war on civilians. The author and other children were moved around many times to keep them safe, but even so, the young teenager experienced abuse at the hands of others. After the war, Germany’s recovery was slow, and she suffered romantic disappointments. Through everything, she was stubbornly determined to have youthful fun and hold onto her dreams of studying medicine and moving to America. The translation is effective overall. On occasion it falters, though, as when she uses the term “OMG!,” which sounds quite out of place in a historic document, even a translated one. It still provides rich detail for history buffs, as when the author observed schoolboys collecting fragments of bombs to show off to their friends. At almost 500 pages, perhaps the diaries could be pared down in a possible future edition for young-adult readers, but the full edition is useful for historical purposes and will be appreciated accordingly. The author also includes a few photographs of herself and her family and friends, which are a wonderful addition. Ideally, though, there would also be clearer photographs of the diaries themselves, even in the original German.
An important contribution to wartime history and an engaging read.