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Barefoot in the Rubble Paperback – May 1, 2000

4.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Pannonia Press (May 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0965779319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0965779319
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #181,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Growing up I dreamed of illustrating books, not writing them. Drawing was my favorite thing to do. But I had no art supplies in the concentration camp. A twig was my pencil, and the ground was my paper.

I was born in the town of Karlsdorf, Yugoslavia, and in1945, when I was four years old, the Communist government of Marshal Tito declared me an enemy of the state. My family were Donauschwaben--ethnic Germans. Our people had been living peacefully in the Baltic countries for generations. Though we had no part in the war, we were branded Nazis all the same. My mother, brother and I, along with the old people and young children of our town, were put into concentration camp. My father and the other able bodied men and women were hauled off to Russia to slave in the mines.

What most people do not know is that this was happening in every Communist town where Donauschwaben lived. It was happening in the years after World War II.

We spent nearly three years in the camp, my mother trying to keep my brother and me alive on tiny rations of watery pea soup, trying to keep us clean without soap, nursing us without medicine. One night, we escaped with a group of fellow prisoners. It was not the first time we had tried, but this time we were successful. We fled on foot across Hungary and half way across Austria, scaled a mountain range, and reached the American Zone.

We had not known whether my father was alive or dead, but in bombed out Munich we were finally reunited with him. Several years later, when I was almost ten, my family came to the United States and started our new life in Chicago.

By now I had everything I needed to create pictures on paper. Finally, I could become an artist--and I did. But the memories of those years we spent in the camps never faded. More than 15 million ethnic Germans had suffered atrociously at the hands of the communists. Millions died. There was a story that needed to be told to the world, and none of the art I created could tell it. That is why I wrote BAREFOOT IN THE RUBBLE.

Since the publication of the book, I have received many honors and awards. I was named Woman of the Year by the American Legion Auxiliary, and I have been an Illinois author of the month. My book has been displayed in the Senate Russel Rotunda in Washington, DC.I have spoken to dozens of professional groups and at universities in the U.S. and Europe, and shared my story with hundreds of school children. No way could I have predicted the incredible journey that book has taken me on, across the country and across the world.

And that raggedy, starving child with a stick for a pencil? She still lives within me.

Elizabeth B. Walter

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A family is awakened in the middle of the night as strangers with guns and knives burst into their home. The Father is not there to comfort them, he has been taken away and shipped off to Russia. The Mother is alone with her children. The strangers make demands in a foreign language and indicate they are forcibly taking the family away from their home. The family is terrified and they have no choice but to obey, leaving all of their possessions behind.
And so begins this shocking story of concentration camps, starvation and death - all taking place as World War II was ending - and when these atrocities were supposed to have ended. It's the story of the Expulsion, a period of time after WWII when Tito came to power in the then country of Yugoslavia, and proceeded to kill over half a million* Danube Swabians (ethnic Germans). Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Germans were killed by Tito's forces and thousands of others were locked in concentration camps and starved. Their only crime? They were German.
This story is told through the eyes of a child. The author, Elizabeth Walters, was only 4 years old when these events began. After 3 years, her family eventually escaped the camps and they walked by foot across Hungary and halfway across Austria. They scaled a mountain range to reach safety in the American Zone.
Most of the Western Media, and even our history books have neglected this horrific time in history, and some officials even deny that the action against Yugoslavian citizens of German nationality ever took place.
That's why the book, Barefoot in the Rubble, by Elizabeth Walters is so important. She dares to speak the truth about a period of history that remains largely unknown. Ethnic Cleansing is not limited to one country, or one time period in history. For centuries this has been going on and continues even to this day. This is a story that must be heard.
Source: *"Nemesis at Potsdam" - Alfred M. de Zayas
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Format: Hardcover
Ms. Walter's memoirs of growing up in post war Europe is an excellent addition to anyone's library that focuses on the incredible history of WWII. Written from a child's perspective, it serves to remind us that there are always many more who suffer from the actions of our leaders, and continue to live the trauma of memory and the difficulties in resolving the whys and hows of experience. For anyone who would like to dismiss the subject of this book based on the German ethnicity of the author, I would suggest some research into the history of Yugoslavia and the current events of this dismantled country and think again about our perpetual need to label others according to their religion, ethnicity, language and skin color. Ms. Walter offers an empathetic hand to all victims of group identity and particularly to the children who always suffer the retributions doled out to the adults.
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Format: Paperback
Elizabeth Walter has done a great service to all Germans imprisoned...and often murdered...in Tito-era Yugoslavian concentration camps by writing this memoir. Too many Donauschwaben Germans still living today who experienced being evicted from their homes, their liberties taken from them during post-World War II Yugoslavia just because of their ethnic heritage, will come to tears when asked about what life was like at that time. Most of them understandably just do not have the willingness to recount in detail and at length what had happened to them during that part of their lifetime. For all those who doubt the accounts of their German relatives who lived in Yugoslavia (as well as Hungary) at that time, Elizabeth Walter is among the few who has finally offered a detailed, written memoir so that this part of history will not be completely forgotten. The content provided on the back cover of the hard cover version of this work grabbed me and did not let me go until I finished reading it: "This is not true!" reads the back cover. "The red words written across my essay burned into my heart. I had followed the assignment, I had written about a true life experience, but my high school English teacher, Miss Shay, didn't believe me. I put my essay in my notebook and wrote not another word until years later. As I grew older and watched my children grow up to young adulthood, I felt a need deep within me to let the world know how we were torn out of Yugoslavia as a people.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My grandmother is the kindest lady as most of them are and she was also a German refugee taken into a concentration camp by the Russians during WWII. Growing up I never quite understood how my grandmother was in a concentration camp since she and we are not Jewish. Until I listened to her story a few weeks ago, at the age of 22 and about to graduate from college, I had no clue about Germans who had nothing to do with the war that were treated so horribly and punished for crimes they did not know existed let alone had any control over. How could one fight for the Jews to stop being persecuted and then persecute others! How hypocritical and inhumane. It makes me sick but I felt as though I needed to read this book because my grandmother said Elizabeth Walter's story is similar to her own and my grandmother does not want to have to tell the gruesome details to me and my family. I hope eyes are opened by this book but I hope that people are not too disgusted like I'm afraid I have been. It makes me extrememly appreciative of all that I have!
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