The peaceful farm life of a teenage girl in Germany is upended when World War II comes knocking at her family’s door. One month before her sixteenth birthday, Mildred “Mickchen” Schindler and her family are captured by Russian soldiers. Having already survived life in Hitler’s Nazi Germany, they now face the terror of a new enemy—Stalin’s Red Army.
Driven from their home, Mildred and her family become refugees along with a sad, slow-moving caravan of other families who have suffered the same fate. Cleverly disguised by her mother, Mildred avoids being taken to a work camp until one morning when authorities arrive unexpectedly. Her father has already been seized by Russian soldiers, and now, she is taken from her mother and brother.
In meticulous detail, Mildred recounts her treacherous journey and the roller coaster of raw emotions she experiences—fear, regret, loneliness, humility, perseverance, and defiance. Mildred’s odyssey of making her way home and finding her family in a war-torn countryside takes many riveting twists and turns. The discovery of a secret, hidden document offers hope for a brighter future.
From harrowing to heartwarming, this memoir provides a unique perspective of a Gentile girl’s road to resilience and her fortitude against all odds to forge a life filled with love and laughter.
Surviving Hitler, Evading Stalin is a remarkable testimony to the strength of the unconquerable human spirit and an endearing account of God’s faithfulness in the midst of faithless circumstances.
The Kansas-to-Mississippi Connection
A serendipitous meeting, while on a European vacation, led me to Mildred’s family. Jean Behnke, Mildred’s cousin, and I met in 2010 while on a “Sound of Music” tour of southern Germany and Austria. A fast friendship developed, and over the years, we’ve stayed in touch. Jean and I are both retired teachers, and as we both love reading, I sent her copies of my books. In May 2019, Mildred’s daughter, Karen, mentioned to Jean that she was trying to locate a writer to help her mother pen her story. Jean shared my name with Karen, who in turn gave it to her sister, Susan. A text message received in August 2019 propelled me on a literary journey beyond my wildest dreams. My prayer is that Mildred’s story will encourage, inspire, and touch your heart the way it has mine!
What others are saying about Surviving Hitler, Evading Stalin:
"When you open this book on a reading device, prepare for a sensory experience. My mouth salivated as great German foods were described. My eyes filled with tears and fears as the politics of Hitler were developing. My heart palpitated with fear at the apparent similarities to today’s political unrest in the United States and the world. My ears listened with dread as I imagined the sound of breaking windows during the “Night of the Broken Glass” inhumanely dispensed against Jewish synagogues and businesses.
My spiritual heart was touched by Mildred’s poignant prayer, asking that when human beings see society headed in the wrong direction, they will do all in their power to prevent evil from happening again. My emotional side soared, delivering much-needed relief as the Lord provided some pleasant, positive surprises for Mildred and her family.
Congratulations to Mildred Schindler Janzen for her clear memory and courage to share a story with this level of powerful emotional impact. Her co-author, Sherye S. Green, framed the story in a very readable and meaningful manner. This memoir has threads carefully woven into a fabric that rubs raw the pain of the challenges of political and religious discrimination and their acutely agonizing outcomes."
Charles Hiatt, Ph.D.
Hiatt Strategic Consulting
Lemuria Bookstore Facebook Live Event
Date: Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Author interview with Mildred Schindler Janzen and Sherye Green.