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: World War II

‘How I Got Here’ or The Rocky Road of Becoming an Author

In 2002 I interviewed my parents about their experiences during WWII. They’d been kids, then youths in the post-war era, had met and fallen in love. But that’s not what I want to talk about here, I want to tell you about the first time I realized I loved writing.

A middle aged woman with books on a tableAfter that three-week task of recordings, I went back to the U.S., and little by little wrote down my parents’ memories in longhand. I decided to make a little story out of the horse slaughter, my father had suffered through with his friend, Helmut, as a fifteen-year old. It was a Saturday morning and I was typing on a laptop, finishing the draft, when I took a break. In that moment I noticed how good it felt to write and express myself or rather express what I imagined my characters doing and feeling. This must’ve been sometime in 2004 or 2005. Little by little I added to the stories, studied books about writing, attended classes and conferences.

A First Manuscript

In 2009, I finished the first manuscript of that WWII story, which would later become “Surviving the Fatherland.” But I was nowhere near ready. Of course, I didn’t know it. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. In few industries does it become as obvious as in publishing. With self-publishing there are no longer barriers, just little hurdles of formatting and understanding software. Having mastered that, it takes just minutes and not a cent to publish a book. Any book.

Quality Historical Fiction Takes Time

But that was never my goal. I always wanted to create quality stories. And to do that meant to ‘pay my dues’ and spent an easy 10,000 hours and hundreds of thousands of pages—in actuality a lot more—writing fiction. Which meant many drafts, craft studies, book research, workshops, conferences, pitching, and my wonderful writing groups. It also meant paying professional editors and cover designers.

As Artists we create art because we must – not because we get rich or famous.

Bottom line is that despite the publication of ten plus books with the exception of the year 2017 I earn very little—certainly not enough to make a living. In the end it doesn’t matter. Nothing is more fulfilling than to complete another great novel or to hear from my readers how my book, my story has made a difference. That’s what counts, my friends.

books by annette oppenlanderWhat’s Next

And so I continue researching and writing. For my English language readers I have not yet decided which story to pursue. In the running are

  • the post-WWII biographical novel of my grandfather Willi who spent eight plus years in a Russian gulag
  • the true story about a nun who single-handedly kept the French Army from destroying her beloved cloister (Kloster Säben in Northern Italy)
  • and one or two ideas too fresh to share

Book cover Buch von Annette OppenlanderFor German Readers

My second WWII story, “When They Made Us Leave,” will be published in German in April 2020. “Erzwungene Wege: Historischer Roman” tells the complicated love story of two teens who are send to separate youth camps (Kinderlandverschickung) and must overcome horrendous obstacles to find each other again. This story is based on dozens of eyewitness accounts of participants. The German version ebook can be preordered now.


Neuer historischer Roman über die Kinderlandverschickung

***Jetzt eBuch vorbestellen***

Buchcover Roman von Annette OppenlanderMal wieder habe ich eine emotionale Reise in die Vergangenheit hinter mir. Diesmal verbrachte ich viele Monate mit der Recherche der erweiterten Kinderlandverschickung (KLV), einem Programm, an dem im Dritten Reich viele Kinder und Jugendliche teilnahmen.

Nach der Lektüre vieler Bücher über die KLV, dem Studieren von Zeitzeugenberichten in den Medien, verschiedenen Schriften und Videos, begab ich mich gemeinsam mit meinen beiden Protagonisten Hilda und Peter auf eine abenteuerliche Reise durch die letzten beiden Kriegsjahre.

Aus dieser Reise entstand ein historischer Roman, der viele der Zeitzeugenerfahrungen aus der Sicht zweier fiktiver junger Menschen verarbeitet. Die Handlung spielt zum Teil in Solingen, folgt aber den Jugendlichen in ihre KLV Lager nach Bayern und Pommern. Wie ‚Vaterland, wo bist Du?’ ist diese Geschichte aus der Sicht der beiden jungen Leute geschrieben.

Ein kurzer Einblick

Solingen, 1943: Gerade hat die vierzehnjährige Hilda entdeckt, dass sie sich in ihren Nachbarn Peter verliebt hat, als er ihr freudestrahlend seine Abreise in ein Lager der KLV verkündet. Während Peters Klasse eine verlassene Schule in Pommern bezieht, und bald feststellt, dass die Versprechungen von Strandurlaub und herrlichem Essen nichts als Erfindungen sind, muss Hilda kurz darauf mit ihrer Klasse in ein bayrisches Kloster. Unter den kalten Augen der herrischen Oberin, versucht Hilda das Bettnässen ihrer Freundin zu verstecken und ihr Heimweh unter Kontrolle zu bringen. Unterdessen sieht sich Peter mit dem militärischen Gebaren des pedantischen HJ Lagerführers konfrontiert …

Ab sofort können Sie das eBuch bei vorbestellen. eBuch, Paperback und Hardcover kommen Anfang April in den Buchhandel. Informationen dazu teile ich, sobald sie zur Verfügung stehen.