Inge's War

Inge's War


Svenja O'Donnell’s beautiful, aloof grandmother Inge never spoke about the past. All her family knew was that she had grown up in a city that no longer exists on any map: Königsberg in East Prussia, a footnote in history, a place that almost no one has heard of today. But when Svenja impulsively visits this windswept Baltic city, something unlocks in Inge and, finally, she begins to tell her story.

It begins in the secret jazz bars of Hitler’s Berlin. It is a story of passionate first love, betrayal, terror, flight, starvation and violence. As Svenja teases out the threads of her grandmother’s life, retracing her steps all over Europe, she realises that there is suffering here on a scale that she had never dreamt of. And finally, she uncovers a desperately tragic secret that her grandmother has been keeping for sixty years.

Inge's War listens to the voices that are often missing from our historical narrative – those of women caught up on the wrong side of history. It is a book about memory and heritage that interrogates the legacy passed down by those who survive. It also poses the questions: who do we allow to tell their story? What do we mean by family? And what will we do in order to survive?

Our Review

I have read a lot of novels about The Holocaust and also about life under Soviet Rule but this is the first time I have read a book about this time period from such a unique perspective. 

Svenja had never felt particularly close to her grandmother who was aloof and often crtitical but all that changed when Svenja decied to visit the place where her grandmother grew up. A place named Konigsberg which once was part of East Prussia. 

As a child Svenja was aware of the guilt that those of German heritage can feel when the subject of war comes up, a desire to avoid the subject in case she found out something unsavoury. Much is known about the plight of Britain during the war and various other countries under Nazi rule but this book is unique in that it captures what it was like for ordinary citizens of Germany. 

Her visit to her grandmother Inge's former hometown opens the floodgates on the past in most unexpected ways.

The author managed to walk the line between well-researched and dry. The use of a mixture and facts and photos brought home the fact that her story is one that was shared with many others. 

Not only was the story itself engaging but the historical and sociological context were both highly fascinating. 

An eye-opening read.

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 4/5

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