It never is a good advice not to think about things…

I have received Elisabeth Marrion’s book ‘The Night I Danced with Rommel’ as a gift during the Kensington Christmas Book Fair in exchange for an honest review. Being born in Germany myself, shortly after WWII, I have read many books about the rise and fall of the Nazi regime. Most books about this particular time have been written by victims or by the victorious; for decades it was not convenient to write from the perspective of a German writer, less even as a German member of an NS officer’s family.
Elisabeth Marrion gives the reader an unbiased account of what women, ordinary German women, had to deal with while bringing up children on their own through times of extreme hardship during WWII in Germany.
Step by step atrocities against fellow humans had been legalised, justified through indoctrination. Survival often depended on the wit and practicality of women. Friendship was more than often about saving lives, helping to survive or jeopardising one’s own life by doing so. For the generations born after the NS regime and WWII, books like Elisabeth Marrion’s are valuable. It is not a first-hand account but, through the close family relationship to the narrator, this book is touching and vivid. Hilde, having danced with Rommel and asking him on that occasion for help, might have contributed to save the life of a slave worker. It certainly did not help millions of others to be saved from destruction. Let’s not forget: Rommel, the ‘People’s General’ as he had been lovingly called by many Germans, had been one of Hitler’s most successful generals. Only when Rommel was sure and when it was obvious to many Germans that the war was going to be lost, he discussed surrender with fellow officers.
Elisabeth Marrion’s book is not about meticulously recited historical facts nor analysis of the political background scenario of the Nazi regime and WWII. It is a heartfelt account of family members living through one of the most horrific times of the twentieth century. Easy to understand, easy to get emotionally engaged in the story. If more Germans would have asked the question ‘where is this all going to end’ or ‘why do people die’, maybe the after-war generation of Germans would feel better about collective guilt. I recommend this book very much to readers who like to learn about how many German families not only struggled and suffered to survive Nazi Germany but also how dangerous it is to follow the advice ‘Hilde, it is better that you don’t think about it’.

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