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Eleanor's Story: An American Girl in Hitler's Germany Paperback – August 1, 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-8-When the author was nine, her parents elected to return to their native Germany, where her father had been offered an attractive job. Though it was 1939 and Hitler had already invaded Czechoslovakia, her family saw only opportunity in their decision. While they were crossing the Atlantic, war was declared and their emigration became irrevocable. Garner was not to see America again until she was 16. The family members spent much of the war in Berlin and suffered hardships and privations and lived in fear. Yet, it is to Garner's credit that she does not make them out to be more heroic than they were. They escaped bombs, bullets, conscription, malnutrition, and molestation. Every member of her immediate family survived the war. This required considerable resourcefulness, occasional bravery, and an extraordinary amount of luck. It is curious that when the author was 13, she stumbled upon the concentration camp at Waldenburg, but didn't mention it to her mother. She says that she wondered, "What is this place?-A prison camp? Who are these people? Are they the ones who work in the factory?" Even as an adult writing this memoir, she doesn't confront the truth that this was a concentration camp. The writing is pedestrian and somewhat dry and the characters are memorable only for their ordinariness and pettiness. Still, this is a unique survival story that libraries may want to own.
Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

One of Garner's haunting childhood memories is the sound of knocking coming from the rubble of newly bombed buildings in Berlin, where she and her family spent the war years. She feared the sound was from doomed victims signaling for help, which could not get to them in time. In this stunning memoir, Garner tells the survival story of civilians in Hitler's Germany, desperately hoping to avoid the wrath of the Gestapo during the war, then facing the cruelty of the postwar Russian occupation. On the eve of World War II, Garner's German-born parents went against the advice of family members and emigrated from New Jersey to Berlin with their two school-age children to enable Mr. Ramrath to take a tantalizing, two-year job offer. Readers follow Eleanor's difficult adjustment to German classrooms, her close and supportive relationship with her slightly older brother, Frank, and her loving but often strained relationship with her parents. As the political scene worsens, the family is plunged into horror, and two years stretches to seven. Not being supporters of Hitler or the Nazi Party, the Ramraths and non-Jewish citizens like them had to be constantly on guard against suspicions of disloyalty. They are dimly aware of the larger Holocaust unfolding around them. This powerful coming-of-age tale is told with intensity and also the freshness of teenage years remembered: there are repeated brutal bombings and countless brushes with death; there are also friends, holiday celebrations, and two babies born to the family during the war, who engage Eleanor's love and protection. There's also a much anticipated return to the U.S. It all coalesces into a must-have memoir about an aspect of wartime survival not often written about in children's literature. Anne O'Malley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers; First Edition edition (August 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561452963
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561452965
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #700,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Heavner on October 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Eleanor, an American citizen, faces the troubles of the second World War at a young age that continue through adolescence. As a foreigner in Germany during the war, she must remain silent about her own political views and opinions. Her family struggles through each day trying to survive Hitler's world with one another's love and devotion as American citizens. Garner does an excellent job of setting the tones for both the German and the American citizens as they continue their lives full of poverty, anguish and fear under the ruling class of Germany during that time. As a child torn between loyalty to both Germany and America, Garner recreates the constant dilemma of her childhood. The novel shows the life of a German during Hitler's reign, a life full of anxiety, terror, and hunger. It also shows the confusion to its full extent with bombings from the British and other Allied countries, long lines for small rations of food, deaths of many loves ones, and constant anxiety about the Gestapo taking away loved ones. Garner takes her audience on an adventure full of truthful disturbances and historical reality.
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Format: Hardcover
I am amazed that at almost 70 years of age, Eleanor Garner could so coherently and deftly capture the details and feelings of her life from age 8 to age 16. The author manages to retain the innocence and freshness of young Eleanor's experiences without contaminating them with the rationalizations and/or excuses that we as adults conveniently use to explain the actions of ourselves, our family and our friends -- especially in retrospect.
In addition to being a good storyteller, Eleanor captures the essence of being a stranger in a strange land -- especially a young stranger. With equal clarity, she graphically demonstrates the up-tight, strict, and conservative attitudes of parents and educators in the decade of the '40s.
Although Amazon has chosen to place this in the "Young Adult" category, I found that it was just as relevant for me; an adult who remembers what it was like growing up in the 40's.
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Format: Hardcover
"Eleanor's Story: An American Girl in Hitler's Germany" provides a new view of Nazi Germany from a child's perspective, a much needed text in the Middle/High School Curriculum. It strips away the propaganda of the times to show how the German people were caught up in the war, many against their wills, how the young were instilled with Nationalistic fervor in carefully programed school and community activities. The disillusionment and destruction of an entire generation of Germans is played out in the pages of Eleanor Ramrath Garner's moving narrative. I recommend this book as required reading for all ages.
Rosemarie Dion, Reading Specialist
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Format: Hardcover
This was an extremly good book. I have read numerous books that are from a paritisan's perspective, a survivor, a prisoner, etc. But NEVER have we considered the emotions that went on actually inside Hitler's Germany. This is a must read book for all WWII buffs, and other people besides. Eleanor went through hunger, starvation, and always fearing for her life as well as the lives of her family. We Americans seem to have the forever present thought "this could never happen to us! We're Americans!" But alas, it at least happened to six of our people, and boy do they have an awesome story to tell!
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Format: Paperback
Eleanor's Story is a terrifying biography of the author Eleanor Ramarth Garner's life, growing up an American trapped in World War 2.

When Eleanor was nine her family moved from America to Germany, where her dad gets a great job. The war breaks loose while her family is crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

Eleanor tries to keep her American identity, she hopes for a victory. For years she must try to survive the bombs destroying her neighborhood.

I would recommend this book because it explains what civilians go through in their lives growing up as a young children.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Last year my favorite book was ME and MRS. KENNEDY written by Secret Service Agent Clint Hill. Well so far this year my favorite by far is ELEANOR'S STORY. I finished reading this in 2 days which is a record for me but I simply could not put it down. This pretty innocent American young girl experienced quite an adventure in the beginning when she moved to Nazi Germany just at the very moment WW 2 began and remained until after the war was over. The author wrote this in such a manner that it was very easy to follow and you could truly understand the emotions this girl was feeling. Starting in a new school is always a little scary but just imagine doing that in a foreign country like NAZI GERMANY which has all kind of rules and intolerance of free thinking people. I was surprised there was such a harsh and demanding educational system in place and more surprised that somehow Eleanor was able to pass!
All teenagers go through that rebellious stage but being in a foreign country that is at war with America made this especially interesting. Hers indeed was a tough life with some very strict parents but it was very touching to see the loving and close relationship she developed with her older teen brother whom she idolized.
Despite the war there were some very humorous moments she described in vivid detail and then on the very next page the author would painstakingly describe the horror of listening to her neighbors screaming and dying in their cellar before the authorities could arrive and rescue them from their bombed out house.
The author and her brother went on numerous and risky excursions for just the sheer thrill of it but most often to find food and locate other relatives.
The author's mother gave birth to another boy and girl in Germany while WW 2 raged around them.
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