The story of Edith Hahn Beer proves that life is harder and weirder than anything anyone of us could make up. Edith, is an Austrian Jew, whose family lives through the “Nazification” of Austria in the period immediately before and during the Second World War. As was the Nazi way, she and her family are stripped of their rights…typewriters and radios had to be handed in to the authorities, law degrees (or any professional designations) were no longer recognized, people were removed from their homes, their work, her mother, friends and neighbours were deported to work camps in the east. By the time people realized these measures weren’t just a passing fad it was too late to get out.
Forced to quit school, Hahn is sent to a farm labour camp in Germany where she works under backbreaking conditions. She finally manages to return home where she realizes she can’t stay without risk of deportation and she escapes back to Munich, Germany with a new identity – Grete Denner. There she meets a Nazi Officer whom she marries and with whom she has a child. Even though her husband realizes she is Jewish, she lives in constant danger of everyone around her. She is a refugee inside her own skin.
This is a story that most of us know quite well. It’s the story of how 6 million people were murdered and how an entire political structure supported their murder. Complicity was everywhere and this personal journey shows the impact of the laws of a madman and his followers (these people are everywhere) on the life of a single woman, a survivor of this horrific regime. Along the way she meets a few unexpectedly kind people, but cowardice, cruelty and prejudice are her companions every step of the way.