Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Don't Know Much About History: The Berlin Wall

I have read so many World War II books in the past few years that I can't imagine that I could read any more of them that are new and interesting.

However, my World War II book reading has morphed a bit, too.  Forty Autumns: A Family's Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall by Nina Willner is a non-fiction book about her family's experience after World War II.

Nina was in kindergarten when she began wondering if she had grandparents like her friends.  Although her paternal grandparents were not living, her mom informed her that she did have grandparents but they were living behind the Iron Curtain.

Willner then chronicles the lives of her mother and grandmother and their experiences in East Germany.  

As a young woman Willner's mother decided to leave East Germany, looking for a life of freedom in the West. Despite several attempts (some successful), it took a while for her to break her ties with her family and truly forge a life for herself away from them.  Contact between Hanna (Willner's mother) and her family in the East was a rare occurrence.  The control the government had over the mail and telephone made keeping in touch nearly impossible.

Hanna's mother had another child after Hanna had already left home, and it was years before the two sisters met.   Hanna married and had a family of her own, and even moved to the  United States.

The Berlin Wall had a lasting impact on this family on both sides of the Wall.  I enjoyed learning about this family and felt connected to them at the very beginning of the book as Willner shared about her desire to have grandparents.

I've read several books about the Berlin Wall, and continue to be fascinated and intrigued by this time period and decision to divide Germany into two very different places.

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