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 »


Surviving the Fatherland

book cover surviving the fatherland by annette oppenlander

The cover of my new WWII novel.

In a few weeks I’m going to release my new novel, SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND (now on pre-order at Amazon). It’s been fifteen years in the making, an emotional journey of sifting through the messy past of my family. Set in war-torn and postwar Germany, SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND tells the story of my father and mother coming of age in Hitler’s Reich, the most horrific time of German history. Despite its harsh setting and struggles, it is a story of adventure, of love and hope, and ultimately of triumphing against the odds.

The story has gone through many changes and dozens of revisions. In the original story, I included several chapters about Lilly’s father, Willi (Vati). To be able to write authentically I read a number of books about Russian gulags. As it turns out, none of those chapters made it into the novel.

a young couple posing in front of a house

My mother and father around 1950

I also contemplated adding more photos to the novel. In the back matter, you’ll meet all the major characters. These portraits are not nearly as interesting as some of the group photos I found in my parents’ albums. One of my favorites shows my parents around 1950 when my mother was eighteen.

I’m also planning to add study guides because I think that much of the information in the book is worthy of discussion. Each character’s struggles and conflicts are not only real, they show some of the lasting effects of growing up as war children.