09 May 2014

The Nazi Officer's Wife by Edith H. Beer, Book review

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (September 22, 1999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688166892
  • Also available in KINDLE format


Edith Hahn was an outspoken young woman in Vienna when the Gestapo forced her into a ghetto and then into a labor camp. When she returned home months later, she knew she would become a hunted woman and went underground. With the help of a Christian friend, she emerged in Munich as Grete Denner. There she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi Party member who fell in love with her. Despite Edith's protests and even her eventual confession that she was Jewish, he married her and kept her identity a secret.
In wrenching detail, Edith recalls a life of constant, almost paralyzing fear. She tells of German officials who casually questioned the lineage of her parents; of how, when giving birth to her daughter, she refused all painkillers, afraid that in an altered state of mind she might reveal something of her past; and of how, after her husband was captured by the Soviet army, she was bombed out of her house and had to hide while drunken Russian soldiers raped women on the street.
Yet despite the risk it posed to her life, Edith created a remarkable record of survival. She saved every document and set of papers issued to her, as well as photographs she managed to take inside labor camps. Now part of the permanent collection at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., these hundreds of documents, several of which are included in this volume, form the fabric of a gripping new chapter in the history of the Holocaust -- complex, troubling, and ultimately triumphant.

My thoughts:

When I first spotted the recount of Edith Hahn Beer's survival during the Nazi regime I had never heard of U-boats or fugitives hiding in plain sight in Germany.

Edith Hahn's life and the breathtaking choices she made to live yet another day are detailed in 'The Nazi Officer's Wife', a corroborated story of one woman's survival during the Holocaust. 

There are many accounts of survivors, each one bringing us insight of a page of History we pray never to experience again but the story of one bright law student, born in Austria of Jewish descent, living as a Nazi officer's wife is amazing. 
Saving letters, documents and even photos (many of these are featured in her book), she describes her story, testament to yet another facet of human endurance in the face of adversity!

From a comfortable Austrian milieu, this outspoken young Jew was wrenched away from her family, plunged first into a ghetto, then into a labor camp only to be released into a world gone thoroughly mad where she no longer fitted.
With a false identify, she went underground and became Margrethe Denner, a 'certified German descended everyday Frau' and eventually the wife of a member of the Nazi party.

With a clarity honed by the constant fear of discovery, Edith/Grete details real everyday life for a wife and a mother in the Reich. Leaving nothing off, she paints a stark portrait of the isolation (she couldn't trust anyone), the food rationing, the clandestine radio listening to the BBC, Radio America and the birth of a little daughter she named Angelika, the only Jew child believed to be born in a Reich hospital. 

With the eventual fall of the Third Reich and the arrival of the Russian bent on revenge upon liberation,  Edith/Grete emerged once more as a Jew only to face a new regime much like the Nazis. 

This account of one woman's survival will transport readers into an era filled with danger and remind you of the difficult choices people make in order to live yet another day.

5 Stars!

Meet the Author:

Edith Hahn Beer and her daughter Angela in 1998.
Find out more about this incredible persona (HERE).

NOTE: This was a library loan and any opinion is mine only!


  1. Ce livre me semble très intéressant. Je l'ai trouvé en version française sur Amaz*n, je crois que je vais me le commander !

    1. Une histoire qui devait etre ecrite! Quel courage!
      Merci de visiter, cela fait toujours plaisir et un bon weekend!

  2. Replies
    1. Well worth checking out Josie-Mary!
      Thanks for stopping by and hugs to the kitties,

  3. I bought a copy of this a while back but still haven't read it. You've reminded me that I need to make time for it. Sounds like such a fascinating story.

    1. A story well written Anna, I hope you like it and thank you for stopping by!


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