- Paperback: 302 pages
- Publisher: iUniverse Star (September 29, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1583480722
- ISBN-13: 978-1583480724
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 59 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,274,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Tilli's Story: My Thoughts Are Free Paperback – September 29, 2005
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"The small, poignant touches are riveting... Schulze's courageous story fills a major gap in the story of the world's greatest conflict, and she deserves a wide audience of all ages." - Kirkus Discoveries
"Tilli's Story reads like a fine documentary film script; it's easy to visualize the story and lose yourself in the narrative." - Art Doederlein, PhD, Director of Undergraduate Programs, Communications Dept., Northern Illinois University
From the Author
I am not a hero.
I did not suffer more than other German children did during World War II and the Russian takeover of East Germany. In fact, I'm sure I suffered less than some. There were certainly quite a few children who underwent even more horrible ordeals than I did.
I didn't save anybody's life; I didn't perform any dramatic rescues, other than my own. Nobody in my family died.
Why, then, should you read my story?
Because what I went through is typical not only of what many German children experienced during World War II and its aftermath, but also of what all children endure during any war--a suffering that is unforgivable but also, unfortunately, often overlooked and shrugged aside as an unavoidable cost of war.
For the first time in 40 years, I saw the small farming village where I grew up. I saw old friends and neighbors and relatives who had not been able to escape, as I had. I visited my brother's grave. I stepped inside my old house. I walked through the park which had been such a refuge for me as a child.
And I remembered.
I remembered what was done to my family and to countless innocent families throughout my country. We suffered under both Hitler and Stalin. Neither of these rulers believed we should have the right to think freely, to act freely, to travel and work and write and worship and live as we wished.
I remembered also what was done to me. My innocence was taken. My childhood was taken. My life was almost taken.
I never shared with my children and with even my closest friends much of what happened to me during the war and the Russian takeover. I kept it buried. I moved on with my life. I tried to forget.
But the memories wouldn't die--and I've realized I can't let them.
I want my family to know the truth. I want the world to know. Maybe it's naive to think that telling stories like mine will make a difference, but I hope this will be the case.
We need to never forget the importance of freedom, which is sometimes taken for granted in America. We need to realize that war makes everyone its victim, that real people on both sides, including innocent children, suffer the battles their leaders plan.
I didn't want to write a political book. I am not out to defend all Germans for their actions during World War II, nor to castigate all Russians for the inhumane behavior some Russian soldiers displayed towards me. I most certainly am not trying to downplay or diminish in any way the appalling sufferings of the Jews and other Holocaust victims.
I simply want to tell my story, my personal story: to relay to you what I saw as a child in Germany, as a child of war, and to try to convey the lessons, the truths, that I learned through that experience.
Although this story contains a lot of sad and terrible things, I don't want this to be a depressing book. I see my story as being about survival and the triumph of the human spirit, about the way we can overcome anything if we keep fighting, even if our battles can only be waged within our thoughts.
That's the way my mother fought. This book is named for her, for her softly humming resistance to those who would try to take control of her mind.
In writing this book, I tried to reconstruct what happened to me from the war's beginning in 1939 through the first five years of the Russian occupation. As best as I could, I tried to remember conversations and feelings that I had. Some of these conversations, of necessity, have been recreated. I could not always remember word for word what people said, but I could remember the gist of an encounter, the mood of a moment, the force of a meeting. All of the major events in this book happened, and they happened to me.
This is my story.
Top customer reviews
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Tilli's story differs from most war stories. It focuses on the effect of war on ordinary families - on children and mothers. It dispels myths that suggest the German people unilaterally supported Hitler. It expose the fears, courage, and resilience of people whose lives were torn apart by incomprehensible acts of cruelty, by ignorance, and by blind loyalty to a misguided cause. It's a story about man's inhumanity to man, and about the strength of the human spirit to survive, and to pursue a seemingly impossible dream.
A touching tale - sad, but also inspirational - it is beautifully told. It's a story that should be compulsory reading in history classrooms.
Highly recommended reading.
I would recommend this book for those wanting a look inside the lives of Germans who did not support the Nazis. Tilli and her family were nevertheless forced to pretend patriotism. Of course, once the Nazis were defeated, Tilli and her family had the Soviets to contend with. She still wasn't free. Tilli does escape Europe, but I'll leave it to you to read the book and find out how.
Sometimes I think we are fed too much propaganda by the main stream media, but rather that than the fear and poverty that resulted from the dictators, mindless followers, and unfortunately sometimes every-day people who had no choice because of the brutality of it all.
Anyone with German roots - especially if you have family from this era, should read this book and recommend it to everyone they know. I fear that younger generations will never be able to comprehend what we have today without reading about lives like this. We must never forget.