Synopses & Reviews
Walter Wolff was the son of a Jewish merchant family that fled their German home when the Nazis came to power and took refuge in Brussels, Belgium. On the eve of the German invasion, in May 1940, the family began its second escape. Their sixteen-month odyssey took them through the chaos of battle in France and the dangers of living clandestinely as Jews in occupied territory, before they finally boarded the notorious freighter SS Navemar
in Cadiz, Spain, to be among the last Jewish refugees admitted to the United States before Pearl Harbor.
Within two years of his arrival in the States, Walter was ready to take the fight back to the Nazis as a soldier in the U.S. Army. Trained for the Intelligence Corps at Camp Ritchie, he was sent first to Italy and then to Germany and Austria, where he interrogated POWs for potential prosecution as war criminals at Nuremburg. At the same time, on his travels in Europe he returned to the confiscated properties of his extended family, throwing out the occupiers and reclaiming ownership. Telling the rousing story of a Jewish boy who fled persecution and returned to prosecute the Nazi oppressors, Walter Wolffand#8217;s daughter Nina has reconstructed these events from family lore and her fatherand#8217;s own cache of more than 700 wartime letters and 200 photographs, which he revealed to her shortly before he died.
A daughters compelling account of her fathers wartime journeya sensitive exploration of a familys hidden history.” Anne Nelson, author of Red Orchestra
An extraordinarily important story . . . a fascinating look into the experiences of an ordinary GI [that is] also the story of a refugee . . . finally able to return to his country years after being forced to flee.” Alexandra M. Lord, The Ultimate History Project
and#147;Nina Wolff Feld reimagines with thrilling verve her fatherand#8217;s life as a fugitive from Nazi Germany who returned to Europe from the United States as a refugee soldier. Besides her giving us an act of filial devotion par excellence, we are grateful to her for so deftly filling in one more blank in the vast nightmare of World War II. She has transformed a cache of letters written by her father to his family into a goldmine of unique historic interest.and#8221; and#151;John Guare, playwright, author of Six Degrees of Separation
and A Free Man of Color
and#147;Both intimate in detail and sweeping in reach, Someday You Will Understand is a moving and often humorous story that Walter Wolff kept to himself until his final days when he gave his daughter the letters and photographs that recorded his odyssey. This is Nina Wolff Feldand#8217;s book, but it is her fatherand#8217;s life.and#8221;
and#151;Alan Riding, author of And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris
and#147;What appears at first glance as a daughter's tribute to an extraordinary father becomes a testimony to the achievement of a group of immigrants who rightfully stand with Americaand#8217;s and#145;greatest generation.and#8217; They came from the countries ruled or occupied by the Nazi hordes and became the staunch defenders of American democracy within months. They donned the uniform of their country of asylum, fought the battles of World War II and contributed, with gratitude, to the growth of their new country. This books tells this little-told story in a clear style, factually, yet with empathy and love.and#8221; and#151;Guy Stern, distinguished professor emeritus, director, International Institute of the Righteous, Holocaust Memorial Center
and#147;Nina Wolff Feld tells the compelling story of a family's truly dramatic, last-minute escape through France and Spain from the clutches of the Nazis and of her fatherand#8217;s return as an American GI after 1945 to interrogate suspected perpetrators. Richly illustrated, this book will captivate anyone interested in the European catastrophe of the 1940s.and#8221; and#151;V. R. Berghahn,Seth Low Emeritus Professor of History, Columbia University
and#147;A daughterand#8217;s compelling account of her fatherand#8217;s wartime journeyand#151;a sensitive exploration of a familyand#8217;s hidden history.and#8221; and#151;Anne Nelson, author of Red Orchestra
and#147;An extraordinarily important story . . . a fascinating look into the experiences of an ordinary GI [that is] also the story of a refugee . . . finally able to return to his country years after being forced to flee.and#8221; and#151;Alexandra M. Lord, The Ultimate History Project
and#147;A dying fatherand#8217;s wartime army box yields a wealth of lively detail about American intelligence work in POW and displaced persons camps within the ruins of Europe. . . . Along with Wolffand#8217;s intimately chronicled accounts of the devastation from bombings and the homelessness of Jews and others, the accompanying photographs he took himself reveal stirring remnants of an apocalypse.and#8221;and#151;Kirkus Reviews
and#147;Feld strings together the events that shaped history with a personal touch . . . [Her fatherand#8217;s] extraordinary journey grants us new insight into how a government run amok disenfranchised an entire generation.and#8221; and#151;San Francisco Book Review
About the Author
Nina Wolff Feld
is the daughter of Walter C. Wolff, who went on to found the Bon Marché furniture stores in New York. A native New Yorker, she received a B.S. in Fine Art from Skidmore College and a Bachelor of Architecture from the Pratt Institute School of Architecture. During the 1980s her paintings became a part of the East Village and Soho art scene. She has given talks on the subject of this book to schools, libraries, JCCs, and temples in the New York area.