Synopses & Reviews
is the spellbinding account of a free-spirited young woman in a world in which few dared to speak up. Living in Hamburg, Germany, Gretel Wachtel bore witness to the disappearance of her best friend during Kristallnacht, the infamous night of atrocities against the Jewish population in 1938, and during the war she endured the constant bombing of her beloved city by the Allies, surviving the firestorm caused by Operation Gomorrah. An unguarded anti-Nazi comment resulted in her being forced to work in an ammunition factory, but she didnt lose her desire to fight the totalitarian regime.
Gretel married a Resistance fighter, helped the local priest to protect those hunted by the Gestapo, and hid her Jewish doctor in the cellar of her house. Called up to serve as a typist in the Wehrmacht, Gretel allied herself with the Resistance, passing on secrets learned from her work sending and receiving messages via the Enigma encryption machine. Finally arrested by the Gestapo in 1945 and taken to an internment camp, she was liberated as the British Army advanced toward Hamburg.
Before the war, Gretel was a fun-loving girl who enjoyed a good time. She was an ordinary person thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Her wartime experiences—as chronicled in Gretels own voice by her friend, and journalist, Claudia Strachan—are nothing short of astonishing.
reads like a novel... but it is also a most interesting history of what happened in Germany during the Third Reich. Wachtels friendship with high-ranking officers who were anti-Hitler members of the Wehrtmacht, the failed plot to kill Hitler, the tragic British bombing of two vessels containing Jewish camp survivors, and our heroines machinations with the charming Brits of the occupying force makes for fascinating reading.—Jewish Book World
“Well-written and succinct…[Gretel Wachtels] defiance of the Gestapo and her willingness to serve time in a concentration camp gives Ms. Wachtel special status, similar to others like Oskar Schindler.”
— New York Journal of Books
The spellbinding account of the life of a young woman in Hamburg during the Second World War.
About the Author
Gretel Wachtel was born in Germany in 1915 and was twenty-four years old when the Second World War began. She moved to England in 1945, where she remained until her death in 2005.
Claudia Strachan was born in Germany and in 1993 she moved to England, where she met Gretel. She spent the next nine years researching Gretels story.