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German Boy: A Refugee's Story (Willie Morris Books in Memoir and Biography)

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What was the experience of war for a child in bombed and ravaged Germany? In this memoir the voice of innocence is heard. "This is great stuff," exclaims Stephen E. Ambrose. "I love this book." In this gripping account a boy and his mother are wrenched from their tranquil lives to forge a path through the storm of war and the rubble of its aftermath. In the past there has What was the experience of war for a child in bombed and ravaged Germany? In this memoir the voice of innocence is heard. "This is great stuff," exclaims Stephen E. Ambrose. "I love this book." In this gripping account a boy and his mother are wrenched from their tranquil lives to forge a path through the storm of war and the rubble of its aftermath. In the past there has been a spectrum of books and films that share other German World War II experiences. However, told from the perspective of a ten-year-old, this book is rare. The boy and his mother must prevail over hunger and despair, or die. In the Third Reich young Wolfgang Samuel and his family are content but alone. The father, a Luftwaffe officer, is away fighting the Allies in the West. In 1945 as Berlin and nearby communities crumble, young Wolfgang, his mother Hedy, and little sister Ingrid flee the advancing Russian army. They have no inkling of the chaos ahead. In Strasburg, a small town north of Berlin where they find refuge, Wolfgang begins to comprehend the evils the Nazi regime brought to Germany. As the Reich collapses, mother, son, and daughter flee again just ahead of the Russian charge. In the chaos of defeat they struggle to find food and shelter. Death stalks the primitive camps that are their temporary havens, and the child becomes the family provider. Under the crushing responsibility Wolfgang becomes his mother's and sister's mainstay. When they return to Strasburg, the Communists in control are as brutal as the Nazis. In the violent atmosphere of arbitrary arrest, rape, hunger, and fear, the boy and his mother persist. Pursued by Communist police through a fierce blizzard, they escape to the West, but even in the English zone, the constant search for food, warmth, and shelter dominates their lives, and the mother's sacrifices become the boy's nightmares. Although this is a time of deepest despair, Wolfgang hangs on to the thinnest thread of hope. In June 1948 with the arrival of the Americans flying the Berlin Airlift, Wolfgang begins a new journey.


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What was the experience of war for a child in bombed and ravaged Germany? In this memoir the voice of innocence is heard. "This is great stuff," exclaims Stephen E. Ambrose. "I love this book." In this gripping account a boy and his mother are wrenched from their tranquil lives to forge a path through the storm of war and the rubble of its aftermath. In the past there has What was the experience of war for a child in bombed and ravaged Germany? In this memoir the voice of innocence is heard. "This is great stuff," exclaims Stephen E. Ambrose. "I love this book." In this gripping account a boy and his mother are wrenched from their tranquil lives to forge a path through the storm of war and the rubble of its aftermath. In the past there has been a spectrum of books and films that share other German World War II experiences. However, told from the perspective of a ten-year-old, this book is rare. The boy and his mother must prevail over hunger and despair, or die. In the Third Reich young Wolfgang Samuel and his family are content but alone. The father, a Luftwaffe officer, is away fighting the Allies in the West. In 1945 as Berlin and nearby communities crumble, young Wolfgang, his mother Hedy, and little sister Ingrid flee the advancing Russian army. They have no inkling of the chaos ahead. In Strasburg, a small town north of Berlin where they find refuge, Wolfgang begins to comprehend the evils the Nazi regime brought to Germany. As the Reich collapses, mother, son, and daughter flee again just ahead of the Russian charge. In the chaos of defeat they struggle to find food and shelter. Death stalks the primitive camps that are their temporary havens, and the child becomes the family provider. Under the crushing responsibility Wolfgang becomes his mother's and sister's mainstay. When they return to Strasburg, the Communists in control are as brutal as the Nazis. In the violent atmosphere of arbitrary arrest, rape, hunger, and fear, the boy and his mother persist. Pursued by Communist police through a fierce blizzard, they escape to the West, but even in the English zone, the constant search for food, warmth, and shelter dominates their lives, and the mother's sacrifices become the boy's nightmares. Although this is a time of deepest despair, Wolfgang hangs on to the thinnest thread of hope. In June 1948 with the arrival of the Americans flying the Berlin Airlift, Wolfgang begins a new journey.

30 review for German Boy: A Refugee's Story (Willie Morris Books in Memoir and Biography)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Damian

    I have never read a book that so vividly opened my eyes to a whole new perspective of WWII. With all the literature available on the Nazis and their atrocities, we rarely get the chance to see the war through the eyes of common German people, not to mention a mere child. This book covers the fall of Germany, the waking from a shared delusion, and its impact on a boy and his family as they struggle to survive amongst a very diverse group of conquerors.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I could not pull myself away from this story. I was mesmerized by the horrors Wolfgang and his family endured during WWII, even worse was what happened after. But more then that it is story of unconquerable human spirit and hope for a better future. It does deal with difficult subjects but it is not graphic. This story has had a profound affect upon me and the way I will look at and appreciate my surroundings. I recommend this book to everyone.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    Wolfgang Samuel was a 10-year-old boy when World War II ended for the fighting armies. As a German Fluchtlinge (refugee), however, his personal war continued for another six years - insufficient food, lack of clothing, terrible housing, etc. This vivid memoir is Wolfgang's tale of survival and gratitude to those who leant him a helping hand and saved his life. Wolfgang immigrated to the America he dreamt about for years with his Mutti (mother) and new American stepfather (an Air Force Sergeant) Wolfgang Samuel was a 10-year-old boy when World War II ended for the fighting armies. As a German Fluchtlinge (refugee), however, his personal war continued for another six years - insufficient food, lack of clothing, terrible housing, etc. This vivid memoir is Wolfgang's tale of survival and gratitude to those who leant him a helping hand and saved his life. Wolfgang immigrated to the America he dreamt about for years with his Mutti (mother) and new American stepfather (an Air Force Sergeant) in 1951 at age 15. Wolfgang completed his education in Denver and served in the U.S. Air Force for 30 years! I loved every page of this memoir for the unique perspective it provides.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    A few months ago we went to visit Bacharach, a small town in Germany. While there, we met Herr Jung, a retired schoolmaster in his 70's. He took us on a tour of his town and told us stories of what it was like being a boy in Germany during WWII that moved us to tears. Then he recommended this book. How could I not read it? This is a story of WWII, told from the point of view of a nine year old boy, Wolfgang, starting in January 1945 in the small German town of Sagan (now the Polish town of Żagań) A few months ago we went to visit Bacharach, a small town in Germany. While there, we met Herr Jung, a retired schoolmaster in his 70's. He took us on a tour of his town and told us stories of what it was like being a boy in Germany during WWII that moved us to tears. Then he recommended this book. How could I not read it? This is a story of WWII, told from the point of view of a nine year old boy, Wolfgang, starting in January 1945 in the small German town of Sagan (now the Polish town of Żagań). The war is coming to an end in Germany and the Russians are moving in. He and his mother and younger sister must escape the Russians, the cold, rape, and starvation over and over again for six long years. For Wolfgang, the battle of his life didn't start until the war ended. The most amazing thing about this story is that it's all true. People really lived through times like this, and continue to do so all over the world. My biggest issue with the book was that it was too long. It could've used some editing. Yes, he's hungry. Again. And cold. It grew slightly tiresome at times. But only slightly. The other thought that I couldn't get out of the back of my mind was that he wrote this at least 40 years after the fact, how could he remember everything in so much detail? He stated in his preface that when he started to write, it all just came back to him, but I had trouble getting over a bit of doubt. Over all a very amazing story and I recommend it to everyone.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Elh52

    Another history book that is too intense to ever be fiction. And my friends ask why I read history. If you pick up this book, or at least this edition, notice the kid on the cover; he's sitting on an unexploded mine, his feet on the detonators. Another history book that is too intense to ever be fiction. And my friends ask why I read history. If you pick up this book, or at least this edition, notice the kid on the cover; he's sitting on an unexploded mine, his feet on the detonators.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Grant

    This is excellent. Thoughts: -They could make his story into movie. -Samuel really comes alive when describing the war scene from which he and his family fled. It's hard not to race ahead instead of slowing down and absorbing all the information. -Bullying is bad. Period. But it also taught Wolfgang (and others) to stand up and defend themselves. What should be the role of a parent, counselor, teacher, whatever, as their child/student encounters bullying? -It was interesting to see a real life perspe This is excellent. Thoughts: -They could make his story into movie. -Samuel really comes alive when describing the war scene from which he and his family fled. It's hard not to race ahead instead of slowing down and absorbing all the information. -Bullying is bad. Period. But it also taught Wolfgang (and others) to stand up and defend themselves. What should be the role of a parent, counselor, teacher, whatever, as their child/student encounters bullying? -It was interesting to see a real life perspective on war. It's not fictional, so this book isn't a political or historical analysis on Germany from 1945-1949. In 1945, Wolfgang is ten and is living in a small, poor village. He doesn't know the details of what's going on, but he is very much aware that he, Ingrid, and Mutti have to get out before the Russians come. -COMMUNISM IS BAD. [After escaping from the Russian side of Germany to the American/English] "Of course, the barracks also had a Communist. For some reason he singled me out to tell me how wonderful it was to live in the Russian zone, in the people's paradise. For reasons he did not divulge, he never packed up and moved to live in the paradise of which he spoke so glowingly" (pg 304). -How did Hedy turn from a borderline abusive mom into a woman who was willing to sacrifice her own body for her children? I guess that was her experiment in living--at a critical moment in 1945, she decided to be a sacrificial mother instead of abandoning her children. -Silence is underrated right now. "Sometimes when I stood still and listened carefully, I would think I could hear the tranquil sound of absolute stillness. For that instant, only the forest, the heath, and I existed. Then the moment would be gone." Just like reading Helen Keller's autobiography inspired me to listen carefully and pay more attention to the sounds and smells of nature, this book is inspiring me to pay attention to all sounds--even the elusive sound of silence. -I'm so, so grateful that sex is not American currency. (view spoiler)[ I can't believe that he was able to break his baker's apprenticeship contract (hide spoiler)] Recommend for 16+.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    A wonderful read. This autobiography follows the account of Wolfgang Samuel and his struggles as a german boy between 1945-1950. The author's writing is excellent and the pacing of the book makes it a real page-turner. As you can imagine, a lot happened in those five years in Germany. Reading about that experience from the perspective of a young (10yrs) boy leads to some incredible, and at points harrowing, storytelling. Samuel has a deep respect for the U.S.A, and it is encouraging to read such A wonderful read. This autobiography follows the account of Wolfgang Samuel and his struggles as a german boy between 1945-1950. The author's writing is excellent and the pacing of the book makes it a real page-turner. As you can imagine, a lot happened in those five years in Germany. Reading about that experience from the perspective of a young (10yrs) boy leads to some incredible, and at points harrowing, storytelling. Samuel has a deep respect for the U.S.A, and it is encouraging to read such a flattering view of our country and soldiers at its best. Reading about how American troops handled themselves from the author's perspective gives a fascinating insight and an encouraging one. He writes about how the Russian soldiers treated him and his family vs. how the American soldiers did. The difference is astronomical. Yet, the context is important and it is a difficult thing to rationalize. The Nazis treated the Russians as sub-human, and the Russians repaid the favor when they took control. The Americans were not as harmed as Russia by the Nazis, so their gripe vs. normal Germans was much less. I am not giving excuses for any side, far from it, but the context is an explanation for the actions taken in this book. Still, it is a unique situation to read about and Wolfgang writes about it marvelously. All in all, this is an amazing story told from a unique perspective. It is really easy to get into the story and read very quickly. Excellent!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    An absolutely gripping narrative, very hard to put down. I must have read this in under 3 days. To even get the faintest sense of what it must have been like to be a young child thrown into 6+ years of genuine dislocation by war and reconstruction is difficult, and this autobiography does much to flesh out that picture. I think it could have been more, however, if it had stuck to the exact-if-vague memories that linger rather than attempting to fill in all the missing pieces with what *must* hav An absolutely gripping narrative, very hard to put down. I must have read this in under 3 days. To even get the faintest sense of what it must have been like to be a young child thrown into 6+ years of genuine dislocation by war and reconstruction is difficult, and this autobiography does much to flesh out that picture. I think it could have been more, however, if it had stuck to the exact-if-vague memories that linger rather than attempting to fill in all the missing pieces with what *must* have happened. Samuel opts for the latter, and it too often reads as an astute individual reading postwar history (and opinion) into his primal experiences. The result is that you sometimes have a 10 year-old kid talking about the sins of Communism or emanating a polished conception of the Holocaust. I don't think either could have realistically have happened, especially because Samuel himself often pleads ignorance and naivete in preceding paragraphs. Long story short, well worth the read... but it's perhaps better considered as a retirees reflections upon his youth and its legacies rather than it is as an autobiography.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alexa

    Fascinating, was left wanting more. I have read a fair amount about the lives of British and German citizens during WWII, but I find the immediate postwar era even more interesting, as the living situation actually worsened at that time (not counting the lack of bombing). As bad as it was in Britain, it was worse in Germany. And as bad as it was in the west, it was even worse in the east. I did find myself wondering what kind of conditions the author's family left behind in the east struggled wi Fascinating, was left wanting more. I have read a fair amount about the lives of British and German citizens during WWII, but I find the immediate postwar era even more interesting, as the living situation actually worsened at that time (not counting the lack of bombing). As bad as it was in Britain, it was worse in Germany. And as bad as it was in the west, it was even worse in the east. I did find myself wondering what kind of conditions the author's family left behind in the east struggled with after he fled to the west.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    I found this memoir of Samuel's childhood most engaging...it was particularly interesting because his family lived in Sagan - the closest German/Prussian town to Stalag Luft III where my father was a POW...so as he described his evacuation in January of 1945, I could well imagine what my father was doing several kilometers away in POW camp. I found this memoir of Samuel's childhood most engaging...it was particularly interesting because his family lived in Sagan - the closest German/Prussian town to Stalag Luft III where my father was a POW...so as he described his evacuation in January of 1945, I could well imagine what my father was doing several kilometers away in POW camp.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Raghu

    This is the era of massive refugee influx across the world. Rohingya muslim refugees from Myanmar are trying to find a zone of safety in Bangladesh and India. Refugees from Syria and Iraq are trying to find shelter in Turkey, Jordan or Europe. Elsewhere, refugees from Afghanistan and Africa are trying to find a foothold in Europe or anywhere else in the western world. At the same time, the world has hardened its attitude towards this human tragedy. Except for Germany, Turkey and Jordan, most nat This is the era of massive refugee influx across the world. Rohingya muslim refugees from Myanmar are trying to find a zone of safety in Bangladesh and India. Refugees from Syria and Iraq are trying to find shelter in Turkey, Jordan or Europe. Elsewhere, refugees from Afghanistan and Africa are trying to find a foothold in Europe or anywhere else in the western world. At the same time, the world has hardened its attitude towards this human tragedy. Except for Germany, Turkey and Jordan, most nations have decided to be indifferent or even hostile to accepting Middle-Eastern refugees. A compassionate nation like Canada would not take more than 20000 refugees from Syria, when the scale is of the order of nearly ten million. India, under a Hindu-nationalist regime, has abandoned its historic compassion for refugees and is hiding behind the ‘terrorist threat’ to accept a measly 45000 Rohingya refugees. Bangladesh, a nation of Muslims, is reluctant to find a place for half a million fellow-muslim refugees amongst its population of 120 million. ‘Superpowers’ like China and Russia are busy pretending as though they are living on another planet. In such a cold-hearted scenario, it is good to read a book such as this one to get some perspective on the refugee question. It is the real-life story of a ten-year old German boy in 1944, as he flees the advancing Russian troops, along with his mother and six-year old sister. It is the story of a young German family, rendered internal refugees, trying to escape to the ‘safety’ of the American, British or French zones of occupation. It is the incredible tale of survival of an innocent refugee child in the context of the final days of a most brutal war the world has ever known. Young Wolfgang Samuel’s memoir begins in Sagan in Eastern Germany in the beginning of January 1945 when he had just turned ten. Ingrid is his six-year old sister, whom he adores. His mother is Hedy, a party-loving, short-tempered woman in her early thirties who is oblivious to the danger of Germany’s impending defeat in the World War and the even greater dangers of the advancing Russian army towards her town. Soon, Hedy comes to her senses and flees with her family to Berlin and then on to the Pomeranian town of Strasburg in a desperate bid to escape the Russians. They become unwanted refugees in their own homeland in the process. Tragedy strikes the family repeatedly. Wolfgang’s beloved grandfather remains behind in the Russian zone and is beaten to death by German communists. His aunt and cousin get raped by Russian soldiers. While his aunt dies of disease, his mother Hedy is raped and shot. Hedy survives, but is forced to sell her body to put food on the table for her children. Young Wolfgang observes that sex was the only currency for which one could get any goods because the German Mark was worthless and the family had no possessions worth exchanging for food. The narrative poignantly captures the innocence of Wolfgang as a ten year old boy, who does not really understand what exactly rape and sex are, even though he hears of these words all the time. We also see the the rapid growth of that little boy, still in his early teens, into a man prematurely, as life-changing events impact their lives one after another over the next four years. However, it would be wrong to see the narrative consisting only of hardships. Even in dire situations of danger at the hands of Russian soldiers, there is humor in the way the family survives. There are touching scenes when the family gets together with the grandparents and other relatives. We see what it takes to survive as a refugee and why survival is something they had to do again and again, as there was no assured safety or certainty about their future. Though author Samuel has written the book as an adult much later in his life, it is written fully as the view of the German boy in his early teens. A lot of the writing is about the boy’s image of his mother during those years. Initially, he sees her as a stubborn, self-absorbed, attractive woman who does not show much love towards her children. Once the family is on the run, Wolfgang comes to realize how resourceful, strong and savvy his mother turns out to be in doing the best for her young family. So much so that he views her as his best friend by the time their travails as refugees approach an end. Apart from his mother, Wolfgang writes admiringly of his grandparents on both sides of his parents. Naturally, a book such as this would make observations about the occupying soldiers and their attitudes, as seen by a German boy in his early teens. In the author’s experience, the American soldiers in Germany come off as humane, civil, kind and compassionate. The English soldiers are seen as a bit distant and cold but professional. Even the defeated German army soldiers are seen as helpful to fellow-German civilian refugees. Only the Russian soldiers and German communists come off as drunkards, rapists and seeking bitter revenge. Since the Third Reich’s military might and brutality was directed primarily at the Russians and secondarily at Britain and France, it is not surprising that the American soldiers may not have had that much hostility towards the German civilians. Given also Wolfgang’s future life in the US, it is not surprising that he remembers the American and English soldiers in very good light. To some extent, the reader could get an impression of the army of the democratic allied nations as humane and professional while that of the totalitarian state as brutal. However, literature and reality tell us that nothing can be farther from the Truth. War is inherently brutal and soldiers of all nations commit human rights abuses on hapless civilians. Wolfgang’s experience also reflects Alberto Moravia’s observation that it is ultimately women, who suffer as the biggest victims in wars. One has to only reflect on the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq to realize that democracy is no hedge for the innocent civilian against torture and violence. Tragically, the civilians and the military seem to operate in a symbiotic manner in the context of these wars and the refugee influx. Today, the civilians’ hostility towards the hapless refugees is mirrored by the soldiers in their treatment of suspects and prisoners. Reading about the hardships faced by the Samuel family, it is easy to slip into an unsympathetic outlook that they, as German civilians, were just experiencing the horror and trauma that their country inflicted upon other people through its deadly war machine. It is as if Karma visiting them in the same lifetime. We see nowadays a similar argument raising its ugly head when it comes to Muslim Arab refugees or the Rohingya refugees. But Wolfgang Samuel’s account brings us the perennial historical truth that it is the innocent who always end up paying for the atrocities and crimes committed by their megalomaniacal leaders and armies. Fear, hunger, disease, exploitation, abuse, rape of women of all ages, either by force or circumstance, is the gruesome reality of refugees’ life. We need compassion towards their condition. As the contemporary German author, Souad Mekhennet, says, “a mother's screams over the body of her dead child sound the same, no matter if she is black, brown or white; Muslim, Jewish or Christian, Shia or Sunni. We are all buried in the same ground.” A touching autobiographical work.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Relstuart

    This was was a harder read than expected. The focus of the story is the end and post WWII years in Germany thru the eyes of a child. The war ended but suffering did not. The author recounts their struggle to find food. How the talk about being careful because the Russians were raping the German women as payback for the German invasion wasn't just gossip. What does it do to a society where nearly every woman has been a rape victim? What happens when money isn't worth anything and the only way to This was was a harder read than expected. The focus of the story is the end and post WWII years in Germany thru the eyes of a child. The war ended but suffering did not. The author recounts their struggle to find food. How the talk about being careful because the Russians were raping the German women as payback for the German invasion wasn't just gossip. What does it do to a society where nearly every woman has been a rape victim? What happens when money isn't worth anything and the only way to put food on the table for your children is to sell yourself for sex? These aren't hypothetical situations for people in this book. While there are terrible dark days things got better. The author talks about being near a base the American's set up for the Berlin airlift and his impression of the British and American servicemen there. While the author ends up moving to America that part of the book is brief and towards the end of the memoir.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    This book is fabulous. I've recommended it to several people. The author was a young German boy in East Prussia when WWII ended. His mother, sister, and other relatives tried to flee Prussia ahead of the Red Army. They get trapped, and try to survive for several years during terrible times. They were hungry, cold, barefoot (literally), and had an awful time. It's a segment of history we rarely hear about: how the German civilian population fared after the war. The answer: they barely survived, an This book is fabulous. I've recommended it to several people. The author was a young German boy in East Prussia when WWII ended. His mother, sister, and other relatives tried to flee Prussia ahead of the Red Army. They get trapped, and try to survive for several years during terrible times. They were hungry, cold, barefoot (literally), and had an awful time. It's a segment of history we rarely hear about: how the German civilian population fared after the war. The answer: they barely survived, and many did not. They couldn't even get shoes for several years.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Adri Golden

    I could not put this book down! My mother, who was Dutch, was sent to Germany as part of a labor force. Although she was almost 10 years older than Wolfgang, his narrative gave me a lot more insight into what my mother must have experienced. Like Wolfgang's mother, she met, fell in love with, and married an American army officer, and this book brought me into their post war world. If you haven't read his other book, The War of our Childhood, you must. He interviews others who were children durin I could not put this book down! My mother, who was Dutch, was sent to Germany as part of a labor force. Although she was almost 10 years older than Wolfgang, his narrative gave me a lot more insight into what my mother must have experienced. Like Wolfgang's mother, she met, fell in love with, and married an American army officer, and this book brought me into their post war world. If you haven't read his other book, The War of our Childhood, you must. He interviews others who were children during one of the most horrible times in world history.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Petra

    We never really hear about the horrific survial stories that the people of Germany went through during WW 2. This innocent little boy, Wolfgang, who was only 10 years old at the time, paid for the sins committed by others. He somehow survives the evils the Nazi regime and the Russian communists have brought to Germany. Through his book, we see the war throough the eyes of a German child. It was an engrossing and horrific story, hard to read at times.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This is one of the best books I've read. Most of us have knowledge of the basics of what people went through in WWII, but this gives a unique, honest perspective from someone who lived through it all. Reading this book from so long ago changed the way I look at my life now. It is that powerful and well-written. This is one of the best books I've read. Most of us have knowledge of the basics of what people went through in WWII, but this gives a unique, honest perspective from someone who lived through it all. Reading this book from so long ago changed the way I look at my life now. It is that powerful and well-written.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amanda P.

    WWII memoir of a boy, his little sister, and Mutti (mother), as they try to survive the Russian occupation of Germany after the war. Rough times. Recommended by an older library patron who was a soldier in the war, and told me it was the most accurate representation he's ever come across - it was just like his life. WWII memoir of a boy, his little sister, and Mutti (mother), as they try to survive the Russian occupation of Germany after the war. Rough times. Recommended by an older library patron who was a soldier in the war, and told me it was the most accurate representation he's ever come across - it was just like his life.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dana Creed

    Another one that a friend told me to read which I had for ages before I picked it up. Absolutely excellent!! I'm going to buy this as a gift for someone I know will appreciate it. Very moving. This story makes my life seem so easy compared to those who have had to sacrifice so much. Another one that a friend told me to read which I had for ages before I picked it up. Absolutely excellent!! I'm going to buy this as a gift for someone I know will appreciate it. Very moving. This story makes my life seem so easy compared to those who have had to sacrifice so much.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Miranda R.

    Bringing fresh insight to the dark history of Nazi Germany and the horror left in its wake, German Boy records the valuable recollections of an innocent‘s incredible journey. I had to cry a couple of times and had to put the book down because it was getting too intense

  20. 5 out of 5

    Paul DiBara

    A first person narrative from the perspective of a young German boy who had to grow up way too fast during the final year of the war and the period immediately after Germany's crushing defeat. The author, Wolfgang Samuel, provides the reader with a realistic and stark description of the very dark days and nights of that traumatic period. He focuses his attention on his immediate family, especially his mother, Mutti, and his grandparents - at this period of his life this is not surprising. What is A first person narrative from the perspective of a young German boy who had to grow up way too fast during the final year of the war and the period immediately after Germany's crushing defeat. The author, Wolfgang Samuel, provides the reader with a realistic and stark description of the very dark days and nights of that traumatic period. He focuses his attention on his immediate family, especially his mother, Mutti, and his grandparents - at this period of his life this is not surprising. What is surprising, and shocking, is his sharp intelligence and sensitivity to the people, conditions, and events of the time. His style of writing reveals the torment and horror that, I believe, still haunts him - which is not surprising but lends an aura of sorrow and pity that any youth has to live through such times and suffer such horror and traumas. So much of his youth is lost to the reality that was Germany at this period. "War, war, what is it good for - absolutely nothing." I was reminded of The Red Badge of Courage as I read this book, except that the focus includes member of his extended family. Like the Red Bad of Courage this book should be read by young adults to counter the excessive nationalism that tends to permeate nations around the world.

  21. 4 out of 5

    David

    Very good memoir of a boy's escape---with his mother and sister---from eastern Germany, ahead of the invading Soviet army at the closing months of WWII. Time and again they make their harrowing escape, from one town or city to the next, just ahead of the Russian marauders. It is especially good in that the author, although writing decades later as an adult, retains a child-like perspective and innocence when narrating events. He might have embellished some events slightly, but over all very cred Very good memoir of a boy's escape---with his mother and sister---from eastern Germany, ahead of the invading Soviet army at the closing months of WWII. Time and again they make their harrowing escape, from one town or city to the next, just ahead of the Russian marauders. It is especially good in that the author, although writing decades later as an adult, retains a child-like perspective and innocence when narrating events. He might have embellished some events slightly, but over all very credible, exciting, and sad at times---and in the end inspiring and heart-warming. I enjoyed also the transformation that occurs in how he views his mother ("Mutti")---first as a myopic, self-interested, unloving mother...and progressing by way of the travails and hardships they all share and sacrifices Mutti makes, into his deep admiration, love and appreciation of her. I do wish he'd told us what became of his paternal grandparents, and whether he'd ever visited them in Germany like he promised.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mila

    I'm glad I grabbed this book off the Remembrance Day display at the used book store. Wolfgang was 10 at the start of this book, and his mother was 31 - just 3 years older than my own mother. My Mom also lived in Germany during that same time period and even though it was hard for her to talk about she gave us a few glimpses into what she went through. Now I know more. I'm glad I grabbed this book off the Remembrance Day display at the used book store. Wolfgang was 10 at the start of this book, and his mother was 31 - just 3 years older than my own mother. My Mom also lived in Germany during that same time period and even though it was hard for her to talk about she gave us a few glimpses into what she went through. Now I know more.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    It was interesting to read about the other side of the war. It was hard to read what they had to go through and made me think about how I would handle something like that. It was also inspiring to hear about how he dealt with such awful things, but saw the good in everything.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    I was completely taken in by this child's story--a look at WWII from the East German perspective. A difficult but compelling image of life and the choices left to those living in war-torn circumstances. I was completely taken in by this child's story--a look at WWII from the East German perspective. A difficult but compelling image of life and the choices left to those living in war-torn circumstances.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Spam philebar

    THIS WAS REALLY GOOD. IT THE PERSPECTIVE OF A GERMAN CHILD THROUGH THE HOLOCAUST THAT HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON. HIS MOTHER DIDN'T PARTICIPATE, SO THEY WERE OUTCAST FROM "SOCIETY" AND MADE TO ENDURE THE HARDSHIPS OF WAR W/O HELP FROM HIS COUNTRY. THIS WAS REALLY GOOD. IT THE PERSPECTIVE OF A GERMAN CHILD THROUGH THE HOLOCAUST THAT HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON. HIS MOTHER DIDN'T PARTICIPATE, SO THEY WERE OUTCAST FROM "SOCIETY" AND MADE TO ENDURE THE HARDSHIPS OF WAR W/O HELP FROM HIS COUNTRY.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Patty Abrams

    True WWII story. Mr. Samuel tells of how he was living in Germany when the Russians approached and he had to go on the run with his mom and sister. This book was one I couldn't put down and was reading as fast as I could to see what happened next. True WWII story. Mr. Samuel tells of how he was living in Germany when the Russians approached and he had to go on the run with his mom and sister. This book was one I couldn't put down and was reading as fast as I could to see what happened next.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    Met this author while touring the Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, VA. Bought his book and he signed it. So horrifying to read of his childhood in war torn Germany. He presents it very well and it has a good ending.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Fulwiler

    Novel viewpoint of a young boy's experience living in East Germany during WWII. Novel viewpoint of a young boy's experience living in East Germany during WWII.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Angelique

    Amazing. A little reminiscent of Angela's Ashes. One of the best books I've ever read. He is an amazing man, I'd love to meet him. Amazing. A little reminiscent of Angela's Ashes. One of the best books I've ever read. He is an amazing man, I'd love to meet him.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Doris A.

    The sparingly, riveting true story of a German youth living in Germany through and after World War II - a point of view rarely glimpsed.

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