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The Mousetrap [Kindle Edition]

Ruth Hanka Eigner
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Ruth Hanka Eigner (1926 - 2010), who eventually immigrated to the United States and converted to Judaism, was one of many Germans living in the Czechoslovak Republic (Hitler's Sudetenland) for nearly a millenium. In The Mousetrap -- winner of the 2003 San Diego Book Award for an Unpublished Memoir -- she tells the harrowing true story of her experiences as a young Bohemian woman in the years after the Second World War ended. She tells of the understandable brutality with which she and her family and friends were treated after the Germans lost the war.

She also tells the story of a mother-daughter relationship that, because of the terrible times in which they lived, threatened to kill them both.

At the time of her death, Ruth had nearly completed the next portion of her autobiography, which is currently being prepared for publication.

Learn more about Ruth Eigner at or find her on page on Facebook --

From the Introduction to The Mousetrap --

Now that I have finally brought myself to write of these events, which took place nearly sixty-five years ago in a middle European land which no longer exists, I am faced with the fact that Americans now coming of age, like my own grandchildren, will need some historical background. The country was Czechoslovakia, created in 1918, made up of a hodge-podge of nationalities – Czechs, Slovaks, Germans, Hungarian, Poles and others -- previously ruled by the Austrians, losers of the First World War. My own people, ethnic Germans, had lived in this same territory for almost a thousand years, and since we spoke the same language as the Austrian rulers, I suppose we thought of ourselves as better than our neighbors. Many of us were also excessively proud of our German culture, believing that it was superior to that of the Slavic people who now vastly outnumbered us in the new country. There was great fear among chauvinists and prejudiced Germans that we might lose our national identity and be forced even to give up our language. These people argued and sometimes demonstrated violently for the creation of a new German country. And the uprisings they fomented were sometimes put down with corresponding violence. It was easy, therefore for Adolf Hitler to argue in 1938 that the German citizens of Czechoslovakia needed his protection. To “save” us, as he said, from the persecution of the Czechs, he annexed the part of the country in which we lived. I was only twelve when this happened, but I was old enough to remember that there was much cheering in the streets when the German troops marched in. I remember also that during the next seven years which passed before the defeat of the Nazis, Germans of my group, even boys I grew up with, enlisted or were drafted to fight in Hitler’s army. No doubt many of them joined in the persecution of those who had been our fellow Czechoslovakians for the past twenty years, the descendants of people who had been our neighbors for centuries. Who could blame the Czechs for wanting to get revenge once Hitler was gone, and they were back in power? They felt, that unless we were driven from the country, we would betray them again at the first opportunity. All this was understandable, but it did not lessen the fear of the German Czechoslovakians, both the innocent and the guilty among us, who faced this reciprocal terror. -- Ruth Hanka Eigner

Product Details

  • File Size: 1292 KB
  • Print Length: 355 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007YNQ7Z8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #196,198 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put this down... May 16, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I started this book while homeschooling my kiddos (they were working on math and didn't need me for the moment, so I decided to take a quick minute to read... I was so entranced with the writing, the story, the people, that I let them skip French class altogether, so that I could just keep reading.

It was interesting to me, that with all the books I've read about WWII, I have NEVER read one from this point of view... I had never considered how the innocent Germans were treated, especially after the war ended. It gave me a fresh perspective and challenged my thinking. I will be having my girls read this book alongside a few other memoirs and biographies when we begin studying WWII in history.

Honestly, I was so caught up in her story, I couldn't tell you if the formatting for the kindle was good or bad or somewhere in between. If there were typos, I didn't notice. It was that good.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TRAPPED BY HISTORY May 23, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
In the chaos of displacement and readjustment that gripped Europe for some years after catastrophic finish of the Second World War, the predicament of the German-speaking people who had lived in Bohemia for a thousand years - long as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, later in an independent Czechoslovak Republic, and then annexed by Hitler into his 3rd Reich as the Sudetenland - is seldom considered. Whether unjustly or justly, these ethnic Germans were greatly resented by the majority Czech, who had themselves cruelly suffered under the Nazi regime. The result was the postwar oppression and eventual expulsion from the restored and now Communist Czechoslovak nation of most of this German minority. As a girl and a young woman, Ruth Eigner lived through this calamitous period, finally to escape from Czechoslovakia and eventally become a US citizen. Her fascinating memoir details the many perplexities and perils she experienced and survived during those few transitional years of political and social upheaval in Bohemia (today the Czech Republic).
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars amazing memoir May 9, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
this book was so riveting i could hardly stand to put it down. the only thing that could be better from this author is...what happened next. her strength and courage through what she had to live through every day is truly inspiring. i highly recommend this book.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
My head still spins from this tornado of a story! I read it right through the day, ending at dawn, dropping everything else I was supposed to do.

For a change, this perspective of World War II, is that of a German. A young girl, Ruth, is a German in Czechoslovakia, who immediately after the war, finds herself mostly in deep trouble. I didn't even know some Germans were treated as badly - well, almost - as they had treated the Jews! Some of those Germans were not necessarily pro the Nazis, but they did nothing or were passively involved in some things. Sometimes they were forced to be involved.

Ruth, like so many Jewish Ruths, lived in fear of losing her freedom or even her life, on a daily basis as Czech authorities take a sort of revenge against the Germans and also use them to rebuild their war-torn country. Ruth goes through labour camps, being on the run, hunger, and abject circumstances. Her parents don't help. One is largely absent, the other extremely hostile to her, even wishing she hadn't been born. Under these circumstances, Ruth has to rely on herself. And she does, keeping herself and a mother undeserving of such loyalty, alive. With the danger closing in from all sides, Ruth feels she is in a complex mousetrap. This book has a whirlwind finish, though it's an abrupt one, leaving you wanting to know more about what happened to her afterwards.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting June 15, 2012
By colts73
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is really good and like other reviewers I could hardly put it down. The only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 was because she totally leaves you hanging at the end; which was frustrating.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A page turner June 11, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found this a fascinating look at a little-known piece of post WWII European history - the displacement of the ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia after the war. Told in incredible detail by a young woman, the narrative kept me turning the pages to find out what would happen next.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting July 6, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I do admit that she bounced around a bit to my understanding. I needed to go back to previously read pages to see what country she was in. I kept thinking how this situation could have been different if she had trusted her gut from the time she was small. It is a good idea to read different bios. of different peoples' situations so that the reader has the whole picture of EVERYONE during World War 2.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally fascinating! October 15, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I could barely put this book down and could hardly believe the harrowing experiences that the Germans went through while living in Czechoslovakia after WWII. Many times throughout the book, I tried to put myself in Ruth's terrifying circumstances wondering if I could act with the same bravery and courage she did. Hopefully by the grace of God I'll never need to know. I, also, have total respect for her always protecting her mother even in moments (actually only one moment) when I felt the mother didn't deserve it. Ruth was a very special person.

I'm glad to read that there's a next portion of her autobiography because when the book ended I felt like the story didn't end for me. This book is definitely a must-read. I loved it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved reading this book
Published 20 days ago by leeanne Ward
3.0 out of 5 stars A little out of the ordinary WWII history.
It is a brave and sincere effort on the part of a survivor of the Czech retaliation that followed in the aftermath of the defeat and destruction of the Third Reich. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Byravan Viswanathan
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad but true
I could not put this down. I had never read what happened to the Germans after the war. Very sad for those that had nothing to do with the Holocaust but to be German.
Published 1 month ago by Penny
4.0 out of 5 stars good book
Overall a good book
Published 1 month ago by Samantha Withee
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars all the way
I cant wait for the rest of the story.
Published 1 month ago by Madin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Post WWII history from a different perspective. Well written and very thought provoking.
Published 3 months ago by Donita L. Stark
5.0 out of 5 stars Mother and Daughter
My mother was born in 1931 in France...she passed about 17 years ago. She seldom spoke of her years during the war..nor just after... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Touching Memoir
I read this book in just about one day. This was a very touching memoir of very troubled times after WW2. I didn't have much knowledge of anything that occured afterwords. Read more
Published 4 months ago by CLM
5.0 out of 5 stars Darjoy
I cried, smiled, cheered Ruth on. Amazed at her loyalty and strength and ability to still see the beauty around her with so much ugliness about.
Published 4 months ago by Darby
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
an absorbing amaz\ing bioraphy
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
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