Book - 2014
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The story ERIKA: STORIES is a unique collection of 16 short stories based on a young German's family true experiences during the war in Berlin. They experience the terrible bombardments and chaos in the city and move to the eastern suburbs near the Oder-Spree canal. Shortly before the arrival of the Russians, they escape to Austria. After the war they move to France and finally to Canada, where Erika's father can resume his medical profession in a prairie town.Through the eyes of their little daughter Erika, we experience these hectic war and postwar times. We see charred buildings, streets filled with rubble and experience the panic of people rushing to shelters. After the wall fell in 1990, the author visits eastern Berlin and learns of the horrible aftermath that befell its people. Every story in the book, through its engaging plot, is an indirect plea for peace: war is inhumane and hurts mostly the innocent, especially the children. Each story is introduced by a quotation and ends with the icon of the dove of peace.Personal family photos illustrate the family's history during those times.A final chapter entitled "Oma's True Stories" indicates the agonizing delays in obtaining visas and passports after the war and the parents' determination in getting to France and then to Canada.The stories are compact and to the point written in an interesting vivid style highlighted by dialogues and details. They may be read separately or in sequence like a novel.The story retraces the young German family's experiences from the early 40's in Berlin to the 50's when they arrive in Canada. The book begins with Erika's family in Berlin during the bombardments. After their home in Berlin is destroyed by incendiary bombs, Erika's father, a medical doctor, takes his wife and children to the relatively safe suburbs where they have a small country house. Erika's mother, who gives birth to a child every year, including a set of twins, tries to maintain a normal life style for her children by entertaining them with fairy tales and Bible stories. But reality is never far away. Erika's father listens to clandestine radio stations and fears the consequences of defeat. He manages to get his savings out of the banks before they crash and helps his family to escape out of Berlin just before the invasion of the Russians. Although he never held a gun in his life, he is recruited in the last months of the war to fight a losing battle in the east. He is taken as a prisoner.Erika's pregnant mother escapes with the children and a determined older aunt to Austria. After the war, Erika's father, disappointed by a divided and ravaged Germany, looks for a new home for his large family in France. After five years of unemployment, he finally brings his family to North America where he resumes his professional career as a doctor in a prairie town in Saskatchewan.One part of the book deals with the agonizing delays in obtaining visas and passports.These endearing stories of Erika, presented in a chronological order, take us from puppet plays and Christmas celebrations to the terrible mornings after bombings in Berlin when people stumbled like ghosts through the ruins. The little girl's imagination of angels baking cookies for Christmas and witches living in the woods is mixed with games of war and death. She also experiences the traumatic after effects of war on her family whose livelihood and possessions were destroyed and whose nerves were shattered by the exposure to constant fear and anxiety during the war. When the Berlin wall fell in 1990, the author revisited the eastern suburbs of Berlin, where she had spend her childhood. She was inspired by vivid recollections of her early life and formed them into the sixteen stories of "Erika." The book is a unique and delightful read taking us into the heart of a young German family's experience during the war.
Publisher: [Place of publication not identified] :, [publisher not identified],, [2014]
Copyright Date: ℗♭2014
ISBN: 9781495440113
Branch Call Number: 940.53 SAD NVD
Characteristics: 134 pages, 15 pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm


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