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Walls: Resisting the Third Reich- One Woman's Story Paperback – April 30, 1993

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"An admirable memoir, set down in cool reflection but charged with inescapable emotion." —The New Yorker

"A fine adventure story and a good inspirational tale. . . . When so many of us seem crippled by the numbness we see in our society, Walls reminds us of the power of individual conscience." —The Nation

"I recommend Walls to everyone . . . as both an inspiration and a warning." —Ms. Magazine

"The suspenseful and dramatic story of one courageous woman's bold deception of the Gestapo." —Book-of-the-Month Club News

"Dr. Zassenhaus . . . has written a breath-taking account of her undercover work among prisoners scattered all over Germany." —Horn Book

From the Back Cover

Hiltgunt Zassenhaus was 17 when she first resisted the Third Reich by refusing to give the "Heil Hitler" salute in her high school. Later, as the terrible events of wartime Germany swirled around her, she risked death to smuggle food, medicine, and emotional support to hundreds of political prisoners, ultimately saving them from mass execution by the Nazis. Walls is her story. For her wartime work, Zassenhaus was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974. Walls was named one of the 25 best books of 1974 for young adults by the American Library Association and received a Christopher Award in 1975.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (April 30, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807063452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807063453
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,466,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I am a Lutheran church librarian who was given this book as a donation to our library from a parishioner's teenage daughter who was assigned to read it in school. This is an excellent book about resisting Naziism by a German woman who risked her life to help others. The interesting thing about this woman's story is that she treaded such a fine line. She was not a member of the Nazi party. She expected to be found out and killed at any moment. Time and again she underwent Gestapo questioning for no reason other than to scare her. Even so, her degree in Scandinavian languages gave her a certain amount of power and prestige within the Nazi system that allowed her to give food, medicine and religious support to Scandinavian political prisoners imprisoned all over Germany. Her descriptions of the bombings of Hamburg and Dresden are especially interesting. So often we focus on the horrible things done to the Jews and gypsies in the Holocaust, as we well should. But we must also rmember that the German people were also victims of this terrible regime. Some helped the regime and others fought it. I very much enjoyed this book and recommend it. I read it in a day. Not difficult, but hard to put down.
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Format: Paperback
Hiltgunt's parent taught her to think for herself and were liberals. Her father lost his job as a teacher for among other things praising Albert Schweizer and his "reverence for life" ideology. Apparently the Nazis didn't buy into that. One morning they awoke to find their house plastered with yellow paper covered with Swastikas.
Her first act of resistance was to refuse to give the Nazi salute every morning in school.
She graduated from Hamburg University with a degree in Scandinavian languages. This was a very rare degree and she was drafted to be a postal censor reading the mail between the Ghettos and Scandinavia. Rather than destroy letters with forbidden content, she found another way to send them on to Scandinavia. In particular whe was supposed to censor any requests for food. In fact shed did the opposite and added requests for food to many letters.
Later, Norwegian and Danish prisoners convicted of resisting the Third Reich were imprisoned in Hamburg. Hiltgunt was assigned to monitor the prison visits of a minister to the prisoners. structions were to prevent spiritual guidance and prayer (a rule she broke on the very first visit.) She ended up smuggling food and vitamins to the prisoners on every visit.
How could a young woman risk her life constantly in order to perform these acts of kindness in the midst of the insanity of WW2 and the destruction of her home town? Ultimately, she was responsible for saving the lives of hundreds of Norwegian and Danish prisoners.
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Format: Hardcover
This is one of those amazing books that is excruiciatingly hard to put down. Written in an extremely easy to read style, this autobiogrophy pulls the reader into Nazi Germany to show a take on World War 2 that you don't often read about.
Growing up in Germany, Hiltgunt grew and matured at the same time as the Nazi party. Raised in a family with no love for the Nazis, she was constantly aware of their danger.
After getting her degree in scandanavian languages, she was eventually picked (being the only one in the new Germany with one) to be the interpreter for scandanavian political prisoners. With this unique post, Hiltgunt could basically do things the way she wanted, bringing hope and health to these uncared for people.

She describes a country racked with fear of their leader, doing Hitler's will just to stay alive and avoid the Gestopo. In more than one instance, she had a run-in with the Gestapo herself. Amazingly enough, she was allowed to continue what she was doing, as long as she "reported" on Nazi resisters, not knowing that she herself was one. After questioning her again, they miraculously released her once more!
One of the best things about Hiltgunt, is her ability to look back and not praise herself, but humble herself and recognize how selfish she was in trying to survive. Nominated for the 1974 Nobel Peace Prize, I'm only now wanting to learn who could have won it after a story like this.
I would unquestionably reccomend this book to anyone wanting to understand more of World War 2.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is no doubt that the late Hiltgunt Zassenhaus thoroughly despised the Nazi regime while living in her native Germany. At great risk to herself and to her family, she resisted peacefully and probably saved the lives of a number of Scandavavian prisoners of war interned in German POW camps. Her tools were not weapons or other acutrements of war, but rather food and vitamins. She smuggled these items into the POW camps when she went to visit the prisoners. Hers is a story of bravery and valor told modestly and purposefully. And, it makes for a great read. Though it's not light bedside reading, it definitely defines what is meant by the expression human compassion, and the plot is riveting.
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Format: Paperback
This memoir was very moving and inspiring to me. I find the histories of people during World War II fascinating and troubling. I wonder how it would have been to live at that time under such difficult moral, ethical, and physical difficulties? What would my decisions be in the same circumstances? This book captures one woman's experience of living as a German citizen in Germany during this time period and her small ways of bringing hope and help to others at the threat of her own life if caught. Frau Zassenhaus, to me, is a true heroine, as are others who assist her in the book. While not a "feel-good" book, I did, however, find it a hopeful book. It has become one of my favorites since I first read it several years ago. I highly recommend it.
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