OUTCAST: A Jewish Girl in Wartime Berlin by Inge Deutschkron

OUTCAST: A Jewish Girl in Wartime Berlin

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An intermittently powerful memoir of the author's life in Germany from Hitler's rise in 1933, when she was 10, to the liberation in 1945. Deutschkron's narrative voice is unevenly compelling: she has a tendency to defend her family against Nazi slurs from the 30's, and occasionally slants away from her own story to generalize less authoritatively about the war. When she sticks to her own experience, though, her snapshots from a nightmarish adolescence can be riveting: the smirking, shoving, and vandalizing that turn into the loss of travel privileges, jobs, a home, and legal status as her family is broken up and forced into hiding (her father, a teacher and socialist writer, flees to England in 1938 but is unable to get out his family; aunts and cousins are deported and vanish eastward); the succession of homes with sympathetic German neighbors (one of whom, jealous of her husband, denounces the family to the Gestapo) as the Jewish quarters of Berlin fall silent. Also: the obsession with the forged identification papers that will insure access to work and food; the mingled fear and delight with which Deutschkron's friends greet the British bombing of Berlin; the routine black-marketing and hairsbreadth escapes from Nazi informers and, later and sadly, Russian liberators--as words like ""horrifying"" and ""incomprehensible"" gradually lose their meaning and Deutschkron loses all idea of what a normal life might be like. Undistinguished as autobiography, but invaluable as testimony of the war years of one of Berlin's 12,000 surviving Jews.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Fromm