MISCHLING, SECOND DEGREE: My Childhood in Nazi Germany by Ilse Koehn

MISCHLING, SECOND DEGREE: My Childhood in Nazi Germany

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Born in 1929, Ilse Koehn was puzzled by her loving parents' divorce in the Thirties, and until their reunion after the war she was shunted from one grandmother to another and to various camps for young evacuees and Hitler youth. Later she learned that the divorce had been engineered by her mother's parents to save their daughter and granddaughter from being linked with her father's Jewish mother; at the time she knew only that her father wanted Germany to lose the war and that her grandparents, like many others, thought Hitler was a maniac. As she was thus protected, many of Ilse's experiences were those of any German child, and she was in fact tapped for leadership in the Hitler Youth--an awkward situation for one who had promised her father never to accept such a position. And like other Berlin children during the last days, llse was terrified by the enemy (British and American) bombings and petrified by the invading Russians--she and her mother spent days cramped in a basement crawlspace where her grandmother had hidden them away from certain rape and possible death. The variety and complexity of the adults and young people who touch her life make Ilse's story of wartime Germany an unusual one, and she tells it from the viewpoint of the child she was--the memory unaltered (and uncensored) by mature perspective, the feelings as well as the events recalled with exceptional clarity and strength.

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1977
Publisher: Greenwillow