Ruins of Castle Hanstein near Bornhagen, Germany

Visiting the ruins of Hanstein takes us back to medieval times - Castle Hanstein near Bornhagen, Germany in 2012 More »

Vietnam War protestors demonstrate - Wichita, KS, 1967.

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Solingen, Germany after the bombing, November 1944. - Stadtarchiv Solingen

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My grandmother Grete with her sisters in the early 1920s in Germany.

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B17 Bomber above German Airfield in WWII

U.S. Bomber flies above German airfield in WWII. More »


Category Archives: Germany

After the “Lull”

escape from the past trilogy by annette oppenlanderSometimes after publishing a book, a certain inertia sets in, a kind of lull. Some authors don’t experience any pauses, others take months or even years until they return to writing. For me this ‘phase’ typically doesn’t last very long. Very soon, I’m antsy again and my brain searches for the next great story.

After publishing my seventh novel, and while I’m still researching my next project, I took advantage of the lull by deciding to repurchase the rights to my time-travel trilogy, Escape from the Past, from my U.K. publisher, Lodestone. Very soon I’ll share the new covers I’ve ordered. All three books will be republished as second editions.

Surviving the Fatherland Interview

Last month I had the honor of being interviewed about my award-winning true story, Surviving the Fatherland, on ManyBooks. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

a young couple standing in a field

Lilly and Günter, ca. 1949

What inspired you to write a coming-of-age love story set in WWII Germany?

Growing up, I always felt there were a lot of stories hidden in my family. I’d hear bits and pieces, brief references or watch my parents nod at each other in silent understanding. As my interest in history grew, my curiosity grew with it. So in 2002 I asked my parents to share their stories. I spent several weeks visiting them in Germany and recording their memories. I remember one afternoon we were in the basement while my mother ironed. I’d ask questions and she’d tell me about the way her mother treated her. I still have those tapes though it’s hard for me to hear my mother’s voice. She passed away in 2004.

My mother always insisted that my father was the better storyteller. And while I agree that his activities were quite adventurous, my mother’s quieter side offered a lot of depth. And so I think the two characters balance each other out nicely.

book cover of surviving the fatherland with awardsWe most often hear WWII stories from the allies’ side. Why did pick the “wrong side” of the war as the backdrop for your book?

Initially, I had planned to write short stories so my children could remember their grandparents. But then I realized there were few if any stories about Germany’s war children and the civilian side of WWII. Of course, we have excellent and moving stories about the Holocaust and the soldier’s war. There is no shortage of battle scenes. Yet, many battles were fought at home. They weren’t drawing as much attention, but they were just as heroic. I wanted to add complexity to the stereotypical portrayal of Germany during the Third Reich.

This photo shows my father, Guenter, around 1940.

Guenter ca. 1940

This book has received multiple awards. What has the experience been like?

Humbling. I’m super happy Surviving the Fatherland has been so well received. I just wish my mother could’ve been here to witness the wonderful response to her life story.

Read more on ManyBooks


A Report about my Old Girl

black and white photo of man with an old dog

Bluey, the Australian Cattle Dog who broke all records.


Mocha, my dear old girl has passed away. I’m beyond sad and miss her so much. I’m telling myself that she is in peace now, taking a good long nap or maybe running in a beautiful forest. Love you forever.

old dog getting a treat

For those of you who wonder about my old mutt, Mocha, who is prominently featured on my homepage, I’m happy to report that she’s still around. She had knee surgery in June 2017 and moved with us to Germany in September 2017. The following spring, her hind legs were getting weak and shaky, a common ailment of older dogs.

old dog lying on floorAfter some research I decided to try Chinese herbs that were advertised to help strengthen muscles and tendons. I’m happy to report, it worked. Within weeks, Mocha improved so much that she was able to resume walking twice a day again. She also has to climb stairs to our apartment several times a day. Mind you that she enjoys a bit of liverwurst with her medicine.

Mocha in the bath

“Dumbo” Mocha’s First Bath in 2004

I’m telling myself that his can’t last. After all, Mocha is turning fifteen in June, truly old age for a cattle dog mix. Though there was this cattle dog in Australia – it has its own wikipedia page – who apparently lived for 28 years. Read the story about Bluey. I guess Mocha is determined to break the record. We’ll see. In the meantime I’m enjoying my time with her, even though it ties us down quite a bit.