The Norman Transcript

N-town reviews

June 13, 2014

Book review: The Nazi Officer’s Wife retells gripping events

NORMAN — by Amber Hodge

Book: The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How one Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust (1999, William Morrow and Company)

Author: Edith Hahn Beer with Susan Dworkin

Why you should read: “The Nazi Officer’s Wife” offers yet another gripping insight into what it was like to live in the time of the Holocaust. While there are countless stories circulating on the shelves that encompass large populations, this one, which rests in the top 20 on the NY Times Best Seller list for non-fiction, focuses on only one woman: Edith Hahn Beer. The title undoubtedly speaks for itself, and the history Hahn Beer recounts inside this book is thrilling, compelling and even challenging, as we learn how she was forced to change her identity and accept losing her future and everything she’d ever known simply to survive.

Hahn Beer was on a prosperous and happy track living in Vienna before the Nazi power stripped it all away and she became a slave laborer. With a little help from a Christian friend, she was given the new name of Grete Denner, and resided in Munich. She eventually met Nazi Officer Werner Vetter, whom she later married despite his knowledge of her being a Jew. During her journey for survival, she collected and stored any and all documents, letters, records and photographs. Numerous prints are included midway through the book, and everything is a part of a collection in Washington, D.C.’s, Holocaust Memorial Museum.

This biographical telling is so unique and poignant that anyone interested in the history of the Holocaust and World War II won’t be disappointed. As Hahn Beer recalls everything she endured in this well-written memoir — one of the most shocking being that she refused to take any pain medication during childbirth for fear she would dazedly give away her secrets — readers will be able to experience these harrowing events of her life right along with her. “The Nazi Officer’s Wife” also was aired in the form of a documentary in 2003.

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