Book Review: The War of Our Childhood, Memories of World War II by Wolfgang W.E. Samuel
Samuel interviewed 27 men and women that were children living in Germany, Eastern Prussia, and Czechoslovakia during World War II.
The book is divided in to 3 segments: War from the Sky, War on the Ground, Other Dimensions of War.
Many of their stories are similar: fear of Russian troops, fear of air-raid sirens, fear of bombs, fear of firestorm, fear of loosing their mother, fear of not having any food to eat, and fear of the unknown.
Also similar is that nearly all of them had little to no memory of their father's. Their father's had been in the war and he was to them only a photograph in their home. If their father's returned home after the war and after imprisonment, he was a stranger. In some cases their mother's reminded them often of their father's and told them stories. Still, he was the mysterious and unseen family member.
It was the women that scrounged food and shelter for their children. It was the women that were the providers and security for their children. In some instances aunts, grandparents or other family members were able to help. All able bodied men were fighting in the Wehrmacht. Wehrmacht is the "term of German armed forces of the Third Reich."
The author mentioned in the ending, as well as I noticed while reading the book. The children that grew up to adulthood did not hold animosity or hate towards those who dropped the bombs, nor the Russian's, nor the war itself, nor their own countries.
Each of them had left their childhood horrors behind and persevered in education, training, and advancing as productive citizens. Several emigrated to the United States of America. Many stayed in Germany. All of them held their mother's in high esteem and gratitude.
This is a deeply personal book. To me it was heart-wrenching to read what small children endured. In many cases they were so young that what they witnessed they could not understand nor put in to words. Later in life they wondered if it had been a dream, albeit a horrible dream.
Published by University Press Mississippi 2002
Non-Fiction/World War II/Children/ Memoir/Germany
Link for book @ publisher:
Link @ Amazon:
My review of authors previous book, German Boy:
Authors Biography from Amazon:
Wolfgang W. E. Samuel was born in Germany in 1935, immigrated to the United States at age 16, and finished high school in Denver, Colorado, two years later. He graduated from the University of Colorado in 1960 and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. Wolfgang served 30 years in the U.S. Air Force, flew strategic reconnaissance against the Soviet Union in the Cold War years and combat against North Vietnam; being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross three times and numerous Air Medals. He obtained an MBA from Arizona State University and graduated from the National War College at Ft McNair, Wash DC. After retirement from the Air Force in the rank of colonel, he worked for a defense contractor in the Washington area, then retired once again to write German Boy, his first book, which was introduced by Stephen Ambrose and very favorably reviewed by the New York Times. German Boy is Wolfgang's story of survival in WWII Germany and the immediate postwar years. Other books followed.