Eleanor's Story: An American Girl in Hitler's Germany by Eleanor Ramrath Garner
This is the true story of a young American girl who's German parents lived in America but moved back to Germany right before the war. Soon after they got settled into Germany war was declared and Eleanor and her family - at the time it just being her parents, herself, and her older brother - were unable to return to America. As a result they had to spend the whole war in Germany.
Eleanor's book amazed me. Of course I knew children lived through the horrors of war, but I'd never before read a first hand account by someone in their early teens or younger. All of the stories I usually read are written by soldiers or those who were in their late teens/ early twenties at the time. The war looks so different when seen through the eyes of a little kid.
Eleanor spent most of the war in Berlin, though sometimes her family sent her into the country where they felt she would be safer. In the country she was away from the bombings, but she suffered more there over worry for her family who remained behind in Berlin.
While in Berlin she saw many horrors and later suffered PTSD over them though - because it was such a new thing in the 1940's - she didn't know it at the time. One of the things she never recovered from happened when a bomb fell on the apartment building next to the one she lived in. Those who lived in the building had gone down into the cellar for safety, but later became trapped down there. After the bombings their neighbors did everything they could to remove the rubble so they could get out, but were unable to without the proper machinery. All those who lived on the street could do nothing but listen to their neighbors' cries and pleas for help for days before all of them passed away.
Because Eleanor wrote down scenes like that it made this book one of the hardest on WWII that I have yet read. But is also makes the story so much more amazing. There are very few accounts written about the war in Germany. And I think it is important to remember that the German people - the wives, children, and men who couldn't or didn't fight for one reason or another - suffered horrible things. Not everyone in Germany wanted the war, and all of them lost so much during those years.
In many ways I believe this book is as important as Anne Frank's Diary and I would recommend it to slightly older age groups because she does go into some detail of the things she saw - some of the deaths of her friends.
She was a remarkable girl though and I have come to admire her a great deal.