The Secret She Carried: A Perilous Journey Through the Time of Hitler
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A young woman and her tiny Sudetenland German community grapple with survival in the period encompassing the world wars but find the apocalyptic peace that follows the Nazi defeat even more ruinous.
In this history-infused narrative, overwhelming events sweep up young Maria Hajek and her beleaguered ethnic German village, climaxing in the annexation of the Sudetenland by Nazi Germany. As Adolf Hitler’s motorcade passes Maria’s home in 1938, she believes her life will improve under the new political arrangement that cleaved her homeland from oppressive Czechoslovakia.
However, the Nazis soon launch World War II and deepen the misery. Before long nearly every working age man under 50 is in uniform, leaving Maria and the other women to work the farms, cope with shortages, and attend ever more soldier funerals. In time the plight of the village soldiers, as described by men Maria knew, grows desperate as they fight on the collapsing Eastern Front and at Normandy.
At the war’s end, Maria can’t imagine the worst is yet to come. She finds peace brings only occupation and savage treatment at the hands of the Red Army and Czech partisans. The violence leaves Maria with a lifelong secret and culminates in a traumatic expulsion to a broken Germany
A companion volume will relate the story of the author’s father, a man who by guile and luck survived the Eastern Front, the Allied onslaught on Germany, and American bombs when very few others in his German Panzergrenadier division did. Like his wife-to-be, he emerged from the war bearing a secret.