Ruins of Castle Hanstein near Bornhagen, Germany

Visiting the ruins of Hanstein takes us back to medieval times - Castle Hanstein near Bornhagen, Germany in 2012 More »

Vietnam War protestors demonstrate - Wichita, KS, 1967.

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Solingen, Germany after the bombing, November 1944. - Stadtarchiv Solingen

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My grandmother Grete with her sisters in the early 1920s in Germany.

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B17 Bomber above German Airfield in WWII

U.S. Bomber flies above German airfield in WWII. More »


Category Archives: Challenges

Four Weeks Until Release of My New WWII Novel

WWII book cover by annette oppenlanderIf you read ‘Surviving the Fatherland,’ you will likely enjoy ‘When They Made Us Leave,’ the new WWII novel that I based on true-life accounts of participants in Hitler’s youth evacuation program. It is a love story, a historical adventure, and like ‘Surviving the Fatherland’ provides a glimpse of German civilian life during the war—through the eyes of two teens.

Aside from reading many books that contained snippets of eyewitness reports, I went into Solingen’s city archives, in particular school administration records. There were few. Likely because the city was heavily bombed in November 1944 and many records did not survive.

I did discover a letter from a teacher who in 1941 accompanied a class of students to Johannisbad, a town 100 kilometers south of Leipzig in former East Germany, only to learn that nothing had been prepared. There were no beds, no food and nobody knew they were coming. Many situations and scenarios in the novel are based on these types of records.

Compared to ‘Surviving the Fatherland’ which contains some sexual content, ‘When They Made us Leave’ offers only mild sexual references. In other words this new novel is ‘safe’ to read for even young teens. It would also make an excellent resource for German history lessons.

Especially because little to nothing is known about this program in the U.S. Maybe because all the remaining resources and books are in German, and not only are eyewitnesses few and far between, but the children of WWII are dying out. And with them vanish their stories.

Read more about ‘When They Made Us Leave’ on my dedicated book page.

New Cover

My designer decided to create a second cover which I found even more poignant than the first. I envision it to be Hilda, waiting for Peter, looking so forlorn and cold in the desolate landscape of her bombed hometown. It somehow represents some of the yearning she experiences in the story. I love it and I hope you do too!

Pre-Order Now

The Kindle edition of ‘When They Made Us Leave’ is available on Amazon now. Paperback will soon be ready as well.

Next Reading/Nächste Lesung

Wo: ElkeS-Art-Salon, Julius-Raschdorff-Straße 63, 40595 Düsseldorf

Wann: Samstag, 9. November 2019 um 19 Uhr (Einlass ab 18.45 Uhr), Eintritt 15,- € inclusive Buffet und Getränke, Karten sind im Vorverkauf erhältlich, Tel. 0211-7052556

Thema: “So ein Donnerwetter” Moderation Kay Ganahl und Elke Seifert

What I Truly Wish for in the New Year

Had you asked me a year ago whether I’d expect a lot of surprises in 2017, I would’ve said no. However, last year brought a lot of change, some fun, some difficult and some shocking. Let’s do the fun part first. My new novel, Surviving the Fatherland, received several awards and became a #1 bestseller in the Amazon historical category. But it’s just a category, not the NY or USA Today bestseller list, you say. Correct, though this particular category is large and contains many famous writers. In any case, I was humbled to be in such company.

moving container with furniture

Our container before take-off in the U.S.

The difficult part was our move to Germany. After spending 30 years in the U.S., my American husband, daughter and I reduced the contents of a four-bedroom house to fit into a 20-foot container. This project lasted several months as we agonized over what to keep and what to give away. Luckily, we sold our house in a day. When the sale fell through because of financial issues of the buyer, we sold it again—in a day. Finally, at the end of August we took a one-way flight to my hometown, Solingen.

Woman and man in front of a wall smiling

Celebrating New Year’s Eve

The initial move-in, German bureaucracy and arranging technology was trying, but we managed to get settled into our new apartment without too much fuss. Then came the shock. In early November, my husband suffered a stroke. He was not a candidate but a fit, normal-weight man who loves riding bicycles in the mountains and has blood values, most people would kill for. With this new diagnosis, our well-laid plans evaporated. Within three weeks my 88-year old father also suffered a stroke and I moved into the twilight zone.

old dog lying on her bed

Mocha waiting for her man to return from the hospital

I realized I had been very lucky until now, our family mostly being spared serious illness. This new reality made me face our fragility as a couple and a family and pose the question, what would be next. It was uncomfortable to say the least. As I drove to the hospital every day, my moods swung between anger, sadness and worry.

I’m happy to report that as of the New Year, both men are doing quite well and are back on their feet, albeit with lingering numbness. We hope that the continued rehab will speed up their recoveries. For me, I’m grateful—grateful that the strokes weren’t worse. Grateful, I had friends and family close to support me. But I’m also hopeful that 2018 will offer a chance to settle into our new lives, but more importantly health and peace.

And that’s what I wish you, dear readers, for the New Year: health and peace and that you accomplish what you set out to do. Finally, I want to express a heartfelt thank you for reading my books and supporting me!