The Nazi Officer's Wife

The Nazi Officer's Wife

How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust

Book - 2000
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Baker & Taylor
The author, a Jewish law student when the war broke out, recounts how she survived the Holocaust as the wife of a Nazi party member in Munich.


Edith Hahn was an outspoken young woman in Vienna when the Gestapo forced her into a ghetto and then into a labor camp. When she returned home months later, she knew she would become a hunted woman and went underground. With the help of a Christian friend, she emerged in Munich as Grete Denner. There she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi Party member who fell in love with her. Despite Edith's protests and even her eventual confession that she was Jewish, he married her and kept her identity a secret.

In wrenching detail, Edith recalls a life of constant, almost paralyzing fear. She tells of German officials who casually questioned the lineage of her parents; of how, when giving birth to her daughter, she refused all painkillers, afraid that in an altered state of mind she might reveal something of her past; and of how, after her husband was captured by the Soviet army, she was bombed out of her house and had to hide while drunken Russian soldiers raped women on the street.

Yet despite the risk it posed to her life, Edith created a remarkable record of survival. She saved every document and set of papers issued to her, as well as photographs she managed to take inside labor camps. Now part of the permanent collection at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., these hundreds of documents, several of which are included in this volume, form the fabric of a gripping new chapter in the history of the Holocaust -- complex, troubling, and ultimately triumphant.

& Taylor

The author, a Jewish law student when the war broke out, recounts how she survived the Holocaust as the wife of a Nazi party member in Munich. Reprint.

Publisher: New York : Perennial, 2000, c1999
New York : William Morrow, 2015, c1999
Edition: 1st Perennial ed
ISBN: 9780688177768
Branch Call Number: 940. 5318 HAH
940.5318 B415 2000
Characteristics: 305 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Dworkin, Susan


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Jul 25, 2019

An excellent read recommended by a Jewish friend. New, expanded information for me regarding Holocaust experiences. One woman's detailed record of her own experiences and methods of survival. A recommended read for every generation, lest we forget.

Jul 12, 2019

See my comment under the film entry (at this library or at The film version has live interviews not in the book.

Manateestarz May 12, 2019

This book ,more than any other book about the Holocaust, showed me that you never know who you can count on in times of persecution and trial. Certain people in her life, like a sympathetic neighbor, help her and put their own lives at risk. Other people, with whom she appeared to share deep bonds, barely lift a finger to help her.
The story was fast-paced and the writing was witty and moving. It was a fascinating look at the life of a "U-boat" or a Jew hiding in plain sight.

This is non-fiction that sure reads like fiction! I found it hard to put down. A well-written and engaging story of a young legal student's life in 1938 Vienna, and how her secular Jewish family was scattered by WWII. Quite an amazing story. Many kudo's to Susan Dworkin's most sympathetic rendering of Edith Hahn Beer's early adult life. It's suitable for teens, and makes a clear impression of the suffering of everyday Germans during wartime as well.
Rose in PR

Mar 27, 2018

What a book! Edith Hahn was an amazing, intelligent, resourceful, and ultimately, trusting woman who encountered and endured some horrific experiences under the Nazi regime. That she survived is amazing, and this book is a gem. Well-written, thoughtful, compelling. A must read.

Nov 20, 2016

A highly intelligent, well educated young lawyer and judge dumbs herself down, 'making her gaze vacant and smiling a silly little fool's smile' in order to hide under the very noses of the Nazis who seek to exterminate her and all of Europe's Jews. From the German occupation of Austria, until the end of the war in Europe, Edith Kahn, not knowing from minute to minute if by a little slip of the tongue, she might betray herself or, if an informer might guess her secret, endures unbelievably high levels of fear, stress and anxiety.

The author's tale is touching; her honesty is haunting; her compassion for others is commendable. The Nazi Officer's Wife tells a story of a young woman who chose to 'dream the impossible dream' rather than give in to a cruel tyranny.

May 22, 2016

This is one of the most readable memoirs of a holocaust survivor I have read. Edith Beer writes of her time in a labour camp and then of her marriage to a nazi officer. She tells a very matter-of-fact story without dwelling on the horrors that we all know went on. She includes details that make her and those around her come to life. It is amazing to read how a survivor was able to hide in plain sight, and It is good to read of Germans who quietly helped. The narrative flows well and the photographs included give us a sense of who Edith was.

May 21, 2015

I'm glad that Edith Hahn wrote her memoir for her family. They would finally know what a remarkable woman she was and how she protected them from the real truth about surviving the Holocaust as a Jewess in Germany during the Nazi regime.How good too that the packet of photographs and letters she sent him had been preserved by the love of her youth and sent back to her at the end of his life. They bring the narrative alive.Such a readable account which stands out among the many memoirs of the time.It has been a privilege to read her account of one of the worst periods of European history.

Jul 11, 2013

I have read a lot of Holocaust survivor memoirs over the years. This is one of the most readable and accessible ones published. The author managed to survive a German labor camp and then marry a Nazi as the ultimate "hiding in plain sight" tactic. Edith Hahn-Beer has an articulate voice that lets the reader know why many Jews didn't leave Europe as the anti-Semitism noose tightened over the years. The book was published in 1999 when the author was 85 years old. She died in London in 2009.

bubbydo Sep 30, 2011

Enjoyed this book. An educational Holocaust memoir. Riveting story of identity and conscience.

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