Prometheus Books, $19.00, 260 pages
A Long Silence: Memories of a German Refugee Child, 1941-1958 is a unique and welcome contribution to the shelves of WWII memoirs and a poignant account of the lasting effects of war on children. Coming of age in the years just after the Second World War, Sabina de Werth Neu knew nothing beyond the difficult and disruptive world she’d been born into. Having survived these years along with her two sisters and her long-suffering mother, she was robbed of coming to terms with her own personal trauma. As her country’s barbarous behavior came to light, German guilt took over, suspending any healing process that may have taken place, summed up in the line, “Being German was synonymous with the Holocaust and being responsible for two world wars.”
This gripping memoir is hard to put down. Overcoming the silence that dominated those tumultuous times, Sabina tells a story that is her own. Perhaps this snapshot of what it meant to be German at that very specific moment in history will help those like her to stop suffering in silence.
Reviewed by Alicea Swett