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: WWII

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 Happy New Year to All

I look back on 2018 with utmost gratitude. A year ago, my husband and father suffered strokes within the span of three weeks. I spent months worrying about their recovery, watched tentative steps grow into wobbly walks. Neither man is fully recovered, yet they’re moving, talking and exercising.

My father just turned 90 and is still able to live in his childhood home. And I’ve enjoyed spending time and taking care of him because for thirty years I lived 5,000 miles away and only saw him for a few days each year.

book cover image of where the night never endsIn June I was able to finish the German translation of SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND and I recently completed my seventh novel, WHERE THE NIGHT NEVER ENDS, a prohibition era historical romance (light on romance). After my editor gets done with it, the book is scheduled to release in March 2019.

I’m thankful for all my readers, many thousands who read my books, who have written amazing reviews and supported me. You make it possible for me to do what I love most. Thank you!

Looking ahead to 2019

books about german POWs in WWIIMy next project is the true story of my grandfather Willi (Wilhelm) who was taken prisoner by the Russians in May 1945 and spent the next eight plus years in gulags in Siberia and the Ural. To do a thorough job I’ve got to research life in a prison camp.

photo of middle-aged man with glassesIn the 1960s the German government commissioned a study about prisoners of war (POW). They looked at soldiers who’d spent time in French, British, U.S. and Russian camps. They analyzed food, social structure and behavioral changes in captivity. They researched how hunger affected men. Findings were collected in ten volumes of which I own several. Now it’s time to get busy and try to grasp what it was like to live or more accurately subsist in a Russian gulag.

I wish you and yours a happy, healthy and successful New Year!

It’s time to get busy.