While we now have a great number of testimonials to the horrors
of the Holocaust from survivors of that dark episode of
twentieth-century history, rare are the accounts of what growing up
in Nazi Germany was like for people who were reared to think of
Adolf Hitler as the savior of his country, and rarer still are
accounts written from a female perspective. Ursula Mahlendorf, born
to a middle-class family in 1929, at the start of the Great
Depression, was the daughter of a man who was a member of the SS at
the time of his early death in 1935. For a long while during her
childhood she was a true believer in Nazism--and a leader in the
Hitler Youth herself.
This is her vivid and unflinchingly honest account of her
indoctrination into Nazism and of her gradual awakening to all the
damage that Nazism had done to her country. It reveals why Nazism
initially appealed to people from her station in life and how Nazi
ideology was inculcated into young people. The book recounts the
increasing hardships of life under Nazism as the war progressed and
the chaos and turmoil that followed Germany's defeat.
In the first part of this absorbing narrative, we see the young
Ursula as she becomes an enthusiastic member of the Hitler Youth
and then goes on to a Nazi teacher-training school at fifteen. In
the second part, which traces her growing disillusionment with and
anger at the Nazi leadership, we follow her story as she flees from
the Russian army's advance in the spring of 1945, works for a time
in a hospital caring for the wounded, returns to Silesia when it is
under Polish administration, and finally is evacuated to the West,
where she begins a new life and pursues her dream of becoming a
In a moving Epilogue, Mahlendorf discloses how she learned to
accept and cope emotionally with the shame that haunted her from
her childhood allegiance to Nazism and the self-doubts it
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