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The Accidental Captives: The Story of Seven Women Alone in Nazi Germany Hardcover – March 17, 2012
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Gossage's book is one of a handful to show it wasn't only male soldiers who spent some dangerous times behind enemy lines. (Maclean's magazine)
About the Author
Carolyn Gossage is the author of books on Ethiopian icons and crosses. She has also published a number of historical titles, including Greatcoats and Glamour Boots and The History of the Frankfurt Book Fair. She lives in Toronto.
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There's no emotion here. It seems the author wanted to relive every moment of the trip herself instead of actually recounting the story. I mean, the Nazi's sink a civilian, neutral ship and what we get is something to the effect of: apparently Nazi spies were very interested in the ship, so a Nazi ship sinks the Zamzam and everyone hops on life boats and goes towards the ship that *just sank them* like it makes total sense - except they're also afraid they might just float around the Atlantic indefinitely. The Nazis take on the passengers as if they were just sitting there waiting for them and as if all is normal. If anything this book makes the event seem rather irrelevant, and the photos of healthy-looking captives looking like happy vacationers at Liebenau certainly does not conjure an image of any suffering whatsoever.
Then there's the writing and the apparent lack of an editor. Example: "Back in Biarritz, [..], the stranded ZamZam contingent in Biarritz received [...]" Really? Back in Biarritz people were in Biarritz? Well, I never!
Some traveler in a hostel gave me this book when I said I needed something to read, and now I know why she didn't finish the book herself.
Sunk, and taken aboard the surface raider , Atlantis, they quickly find themselves as pawns in a mistaken attack by Germany. Transferred to another ship and landed at Biarritz, France, passengers soon find themselves headed off to different destinations.
The book focuses on the Canadian women and and children, who are separated and sent to the Liebenau disabled hospital camp ran by nuns. There some women are sent onward to Berlin. The story pieces together the struggles these women face in wartime Germany. Many times not knowing of the survival of husbands , or others left behind. Or of the future release they are hoping to seek .
Excellent reading from Carolyn Gossage, as she has taken a look into the city of Berlin during the days right before America entered the war. This fascinating tale of the captives of the ship, ZAMZAM, is a remarkable work of the spirit of hope and courage.
This book was a happy surprise for me found while browsing my church's lending library. I had never heard of the incident in question and was very curious to read it and find further details. I finished it within 24 hours and found it a meticulously researched book with many annotations and references and lots of portions which came directly from journals or letters belonging to the involved individuals. The book also had many photographs including some taken at the time of the sinking of the Eyptian ship ZamZam off the coast of South Africa by the German Raider Atlantis.
All members of the cast and crew survived the sinking and were taken on board first the Atlantis and then another ship The Dresden.The ship had been en route to South Africa at the time of the sinking, filled with many missionaries, as well as women off to join their spouses and boys signed up as ambulance volunteers.Americans formed the majority on board and they were fairly quickly repatriated as the US was not yet at war with Germany.The non-American men were mostly interned, but the story really focuses on the Canadian women who were transferred from place to place and eventually arrived at a place called Liebenau Internment Camp which had once been a home run by nuns for the mentally deficient. (They had been removed and no doubt were sent to their deaths well before the women arrived).
Seven of these women, after many months and numerous petitions, ended up living in Berlin as they awaited repatriation through a prisoner exchange. Their experiences in Berlin were similar to those of all local residents in that they suffered food and clothing shortages, experienced the odd air raid, but surprisingly they were for the most part left to live independently with little contact with Gestapo. Several of these women kept very good records (one published a book when she got home)so their voices are heard more frequently throughout the book. At times I found it difficult keeping track of exactly who the seven women referred to in the title were but I finished with a greater understanding of what life was like for the average person in Berlin in 1941-1942.