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: World War II

Four Weeks Until Release of My New WWII Novel

WWII book cover by annette oppenlanderIf you read ‘Surviving the Fatherland,’ you will likely enjoy ‘When They Made Us Leave,’ the new WWII novel that I based on true-life accounts of participants in Hitler’s youth evacuation program. It is a love story, a historical adventure, and like ‘Surviving the Fatherland’ provides a glimpse of German civilian life during the war—through the eyes of two teens.

Aside from reading many books that contained snippets of eyewitness reports, I went into Solingen’s city archives, in particular school administration records. There were few. Likely because the city was heavily bombed in November 1944 and many records did not survive.

I did discover a letter from a teacher who in 1941 accompanied a class of students to Johannisbad, a town 100 kilometers south of Leipzig in former East Germany, only to learn that nothing had been prepared. There were no beds, no food and nobody knew they were coming. Many situations and scenarios in the novel are based on these types of records.

Compared to ‘Surviving the Fatherland’ which contains some sexual content, ‘When They Made us Leave’ offers only mild sexual references. In other words this new novel is ‘safe’ to read for even young teens. It would also make an excellent resource for German history lessons.

Especially because little to nothing is known about this program in the U.S. Maybe because all the remaining resources and books are in German, and not only are eyewitnesses few and far between, but the children of WWII are dying out. And with them vanish their stories.

Read more about ‘When They Made Us Leave’ on my dedicated book page.

New Cover

My designer decided to create a second cover which I found even more poignant than the first. I envision it to be Hilda, waiting for Peter, looking so forlorn and cold in the desolate landscape of her bombed hometown. It somehow represents some of the yearning she experiences in the story. I love it and I hope you do too!

Pre-Order Now

The Kindle edition of ‘When They Made Us Leave’ is available on Amazon now. Paperback will soon be ready as well.

Next Reading/Nächste Lesung

Wo: ElkeS-Art-Salon, Julius-Raschdorff-Straße 63, 40595 Düsseldorf

Wann: Samstag, 9. November 2019 um 19 Uhr (Einlass ab 18.45 Uhr), Eintritt 15,- € inclusive Buffet und Getränke, Karten sind im Vorverkauf erhältlich, Tel. 0211-7052556

Thema: “So ein Donnerwetter” Moderation Kay Ganahl und Elke Seifert

A Great Reading and Upcoming Books

woman standing next to treeLast weekend I had the pleasure of participating in the fifth ‘Literary Hike’ in the beautiful Vorwerk Park in Wuppertal. Under cloudy but dry skies eight authors and their roughly twenty guests walked and enjoyed beautiful settings together. At various picturesque sites throughout the park authors presented stories and poems.

Since the German translation of ‘Surviving the Fatherland’ called Vaterland, wo bist du? will be published this month, I read a section from the new book. We also had the pleasure of listening to Michael Völkel’s music and ballads, both entertaining and fun.

A New Novel Set in WWII

book title

New Cover

When Hitler decided to mass-evacuate Germany’s children in 1940, he had a lot more than their wellbeing in mind. He had a purpose for those kids, particularly children eleven and older. Sold to parents as ‘vacations to protect from bombs and nourish their minds,’ the real goal was to train boys as future soldiers and girls to become mothers. Many camps were strictly organized and schedules began before seven am and lasted all day, strapping children into tightly regulated timetables. School time was restricted to four hours a day—less later in the war because of lack of teachers—and afternoon activities increased to include war games and competitive sports.

I wrote an exciting novel with two youth protagonists, fourteen-year old Hilda who is in love with her neighbor and best friend, fifteen-year old Peter. Here is a little intro:

When They Made Us Leave tells the heartwarming love story of two teens who are separated when they’re forced to attend separate evacuation camps. Each confronted with terror and cruelty as well as unexpected kindness, they must rise above to survive the war and find each other once more.

book cover german

New Cover German version of ‘Surviving the Fatherland’

Both characters have deep wounds and secrets they must work through while dealing with the ever-increasing threats of war and the atrocities they encounter in camp. I’ve also worked in some great historical info I found while researching the dozens of books, magazines and other resources.

VATERLAND, WO BIST DU? Available now in bookstores!

The new German version of SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND is now available in bookstores and online.

I’ve also been working hard preparing the publication of Vaterland, wo bist du? in paperback, hardcover und eBook. Expected publication will be later this month. Because of language, this edition targets the German language market. I’m hoping to do a number of readings and presentations.