The German Girl

During quarantine, I had a lot of spare time on my hands so I decided to dust off a book from my shelf I have had for years and read it. This particular book resonates with me because my family had the same struggles as the protagonists in the book did. The book takes place in 1939 Nazi Berlin. The prominent Jewish family is persecuted and forced to leave the country and flee to Cuba. The Cuban Government refuses the passengers and sends them back to Germany. Only a select few are allowed to stay on the island which happens to be two family members of the prominent Jewish Family. My family was forced to flee Yugoslavia in 1939 when the Russian Army invaded their small village. Yes, my family was not rich but reading a book about a family who went through similar obstacles that my relatives went through was intriguing. The main character Hanna, was the same age of my great-grandmother when she was forced to leave. This factor was comforting and terrifying to have because I was able to understand what my great-grandmother would have felt during this time. Personally, I know I would have not been strong enough to flee over night and lose a parent to violence of the Nazis at the age of 12. Reading this book gave me greater respect for my great-grandmother, because even after reading the book, I cannot comprehend how this traumatic event would have felt and affected her.

Both my great-grandmother and Hanna, the main character, had difficulties adjusting to their new life. My great-grandmother moved to a small town in Indiana and was not well accepted because she was foreign and only spoke German. Hannah experienced this same kind situation. When I transferred from a rough and underfunded school to a five star school, I thought that I was the only person to have gone through a major adjustment like that. I did not know anyone which caused me to feel alone and isolated. Since I have read the book, I have realized that what I went through is nothing compared to what my great-grandmother went through over 80 years ago. Thanks to this book, “The German Girl”, I have been able to put my own life experiences into perspective. I have been able to realize that my life could be a lot worse, like what my family members, and Hanna, went through. I consider myself to be very lucky to be here and to call myself an American citizen, which I take much pride in saying. Billions of people today do not have the luxury of freedom of speech and young girls are not offered education in parts of the world. Reading detailed accounts of what took place in Nazi Germany, allows me to not take anything for granted. Like my family and Hannah, they were forced to earn everything they received and I strive to do the same. I have been given countless opportunities because of my great-grandmothers sacrifice and determination which I will be eternally grateful for.

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