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My Wounded Heart: The Life of Lilli Jahn, 1900-1944

My Wounded Heart: The Life of Lilli Jahn, 1900-1944 Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

An international sensation already sold in fifteen languages, this heartbreaking collection of recently discovered letters captures the destruction not only of a life but also of an entire nation.

Born in 1900 to wealthy Jewish parents, Lilli Jahn stood firmly among the German bourgeoisie. A doctor by training, she married a young Protestant physician. Her husband divorced her in 1942, after sixteen years of marriage and five children, leaving her with no means of supporting her family (Jews were no longer allowed to practice medicine), and no protection from the dangers to come. Arrested by the Gestapo in 1943, Lilli perished in Auschwitz in 1944.

My Wounded Heart is a collection of three-hundred-odd letters between Lilli, her children, and their circle of friends, extending from the mid-1930s to just before her death. Full of everyday details of life from both Lilli and her correspondents, these extraordinary letters are both informative and moving. In the end, we are witness to her daughter's attempts to meet her mother, even though it means going into the labor camp itself, and Lilli's courage in the face of her inevitable end.

Introduced by and with narrative commentary from Lilli's grandson, My Wounded Heart is a literary and historic work on par with the wartime diaries of Anne Frank and Victor Klemperer.

Martin Doerry is Lilli Jahn's grandson and the editor in chief of Der Spiegel magazine. He studied German literature and history in Tübingen and Zurich, and completed his Ph.D. in modern history.

From her idealistic youth until the end of her life, Lilli Jahn was a prolific letter writer. A resourceful and strong-minded young women, she studied medicine in Cologne and in her letters discussed theater, music, literature, art, and religion. She wooed and won her Protestant friend and fellow medical student, Ernst Jahn, by letter, and in 1926 she married him. Together they set up house and a medical practice and started a family.

But in 1933, when Hitler took power, everything changed. Ernst Jahn came under increasing pressure from the local Nazis to divorce his Jewish wife, which he did in 1942. From that moment Lilli and her five children were left unprotected. Arrested and sent to the Breitenau labor camp, Lilli was angry and afraid, but she could at least write and receive letters. Miraculously, almost all her letters to her children and friends have survived, together with many of theirs to her that were smuggled out of Breitenau as Lilli realized she would be sent to perish at Auschwitz.

In these letters, and, in the corresponding narrative that is this bookby Martin Doerry, Lilli's grandsonwe see the deterioration of Germany under National Socialism through the eyes of an ordinary family. We watch as Lilli's initial optimism begins to crack, and as she tries to run the household and mother her children from a labor camp far away, relying on her twelve-year-old daughter Ilse. Perhaps most movingly of all, we see the children's heroic attempts to save their mother, and their struggle to continue to believe in her return.

Comparable in historical importance, and in emotional heft, to the Anne Frank and the Victor Klemperer diaries, My Wounded Heart is a tribute to an ordinary women of extraordinary courage, and an essential addition to our understanding of life in Hitler's Germany.

"The objectivity of these letters immediately gives them historical significance. And an impact which no work of fiction could ever have. And a meaningfulness which a historian's account would never attain. For the reader, the lasting impression is of utter credibility . . . No account of Germany during the Nazi era could be more precise. The character of the dictatorship is made completely clear through its effect on this one family."Süddeutsche Zeitung

"After the diaries of Anne Frank and Victor Klemperer . . . it seems that nothing could shock us. Now, with the letters of Lilli Jahn and her children, a testimony has come to light which moves us like scarcely any other. You don't have to be a prophet to predict that this book will earn a significant place in the literature of the holocaust."Die Zeit

"My Wounded Heart is a real discovery, a huge, moving document about a private catastrophe in the midst pf a political one."Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

"It is the spontaneity with which these children of a German-Jewish family present the 'normality' of their lives during the last years of the war which brings the reader, or this reader at least, to tears of despair. The effect of this unforgettable book is augmented and intensified through the exemplary reserve of its author. Without a trace of sentimentality, he supplies us with the necessary context and facts to supplement the letters themselves."Die Welt

"A glimpse of everyday life under circumstances so surreal as to be almost incomprehensible, described with distressing immediacy."Kirkus Reviews

"The letters convey a graphic picture of the stigmatization, isolation, and persecution to which [Lilli Jahn] and her children were gradually subjected. Their correspondence also reveals the human indifference in wartime and bears witness to devotion and the courage of one's convictions. A chilling reminder of Jewish suffering at the hands of the Nazis."Booklist

"Its graphic depiction of the fate of Jews in so-called 'privileged' mixed marriages and the way national politics affected domestic life make this a valuable addition to the Holocaust canon . . . A heartbreaking story that powerfully illustrates love's power to woundand to heal."Publishers Weekly

"These letters show a vibrant intellectual who struggled to keep her family together through political and personal tragedy. In the introduction, the author asks why, with the many Holocaust memoirs already published, Lilli's story should be told at all. In fact, the letters offer a view into everyday life in Germany both before and during the war, including the effect of German racial laws on individuals and their families. Most important, this book puts a human face on what many of those in the German-Jewish bourgeoisie experienced during the Nazi regime; loss of profession, freedom, identity, hope, and finally life itself. An essential purchase for all Holocaust collections in public and academic libraries."Library Journal

Book News Annotation:

The editor-in-chief of Der Spiegel magazine introduces some 250 recently discovered letters of his interned grandmother's letters to her children, from 1918 to the time of her death at Auschwitz after her Christian husband divorced her. This first English edition is translated from the 2002 German bestseller, Mein Verwundetes Herz (Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Munich). Includes photos.
Annotation 2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

An international sensation already sold in 15 languages, this heartbreaking collection of letters captures the destruction not only of a woman's life but also of an entire nation. "My Wounded Heart" is a literary and historic work on par with the wartime diaries of Anne Frank and Victor Klemperer.

Synopsis:

An international sensation already sold in fifteen languages, this heartbreaking collection of recently discovered letters captures the destruction not only of a life but also of an entire nation.

Born in 1900 to wealthy Jewish parents, Lilli Jahn stood firmly among the German bourgeoisie. A doctor by training, she married a young Protestant physician. Her husband divorced her in 1942, after sixteen years of marriage and five children, leaving her with no means of supporting her family (Jews were no longer allowed to practice medicine), and no protection from the dangers to come. Arrested by the Gestapo in 1943, Lilli perished in Auschwitz in 1944.

My Wounded Heart is a collection of three-hundred-odd letters between Lilli, her children, and their circle of friends, extending from the mid-1930s to just before her death. Full of everyday details of life from both Lilli and her correspondents, these extraordinary letters are both informative and moving. In the end, we are witness to her daughter's attempts to meet her mother, even though it means going into the labor camp itself, and Lilli's courage in the face of her inevitable end.

Introduced by and with narrative commentary from Lilli's grandson, My Wounded Heart is a literary and historic work on par with the wartime diaries of Anne Frank and Victor Klemperer.

About the Author

Martin Doerry is Lilli Jahn's grandson and the editor in chief of Der Spiegel magazine. He studied German literature and history in Tübingen and Zürich and completed his Ph.D. in modern history.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781582343709
Subtitle:
The Life of Lilli Jahn, 1900-1944
Editor:
Doerry, Martin
Translator:
Brownjohn, John
Editor:
Doerry, Martin
Author:
Doerry, Martin
Author:
Brownjohn, John
Translator:
Brownjohn, John
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Location:
New York
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Jews
Subject:
Germany
Subject:
Holocaust
Subject:
Holocaust, jewish (1939-1945)
Subject:
Historical - Holocaust
Subject:
Jewish women
Subject:
Holocaust, jewish
Subject:
Jews -- Germany.
Subject:
Biography-Historical
Edition Number:
1st U.S. ed.
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Series Volume:
1228
Publication Date:
20040318
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Two 16-page b/w inserts
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
9.50 x 5.75 in

Related Subjects

Biography » Historical
Biography » Women
History and Social Science » Europe » Germany » Nazi Germany
History and Social Science » World History » Holocaust

My Wounded Heart: The Life of Lilli Jahn, 1900-1944
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Product details 288 pages Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - English 9781582343709 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , An international sensation already sold in 15 languages, this heartbreaking collection of letters captures the destruction not only of a woman's life but also of an entire nation. "My Wounded Heart" is a literary and historic work on par with the wartime diaries of Anne Frank and Victor Klemperer.
"Synopsis" by ,
An international sensation already sold in fifteen languages, this heartbreaking collection of recently discovered letters captures the destruction not only of a life but also of an entire nation.

Born in 1900 to wealthy Jewish parents, Lilli Jahn stood firmly among the German bourgeoisie. A doctor by training, she married a young Protestant physician. Her husband divorced her in 1942, after sixteen years of marriage and five children, leaving her with no means of supporting her family (Jews were no longer allowed to practice medicine), and no protection from the dangers to come. Arrested by the Gestapo in 1943, Lilli perished in Auschwitz in 1944.

My Wounded Heart is a collection of three-hundred-odd letters between Lilli, her children, and their circle of friends, extending from the mid-1930s to just before her death. Full of everyday details of life from both Lilli and her correspondents, these extraordinary letters are both informative and moving. In the end, we are witness to her daughter's attempts to meet her mother, even though it means going into the labor camp itself, and Lilli's courage in the face of her inevitable end.

Introduced by and with narrative commentary from Lilli's grandson, My Wounded Heart is a literary and historic work on par with the wartime diaries of Anne Frank and Victor Klemperer.

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