Ludwika: A Polish Woman’s Struggle to Survive in Nazi Germany by Christoph Fischer
Originally I learned of Christoph Fischer from a promotion for Ludwika. Instead of reading this book first I chose to read his Three Nations Trilogy and loved them. It wasn’t until several months later that I got back to the book that originally caught my interest.
Ludwika Geirz was a real woman who was displaced from Poland during WWII, but Christoph Fischer has fictionalized her story using the available details of her life as the backbone for the story. This book could be the story of any young Polish woman caught up in the tragedy that was Nazi Germany in World War two. The story of sacrifice, loss, hope and despair could be that of any victim of this time and place in history. Mr. Fischer has a talent for bringing out the emotional impact of war upon ordinary people. Ludwika is separated from her family in hopes of saving then from the cruelty of the German army invading Poland. Leaving the farm to work for a young German officer Ludwika finds herself abandoned to the loneliness of keeping house, during the day, for a man who is frequently stationed in far away places and, at night, the unfriendly atmosphere of a dingy hostel for immigrant workers.
The events that follow over the next five years are traumatic for Ludwika as she suffers emotionally from great losses. A few sympathetic Germans befriend her along the way making life only slightly more tolerable on occasions. The story gives insight into the human element of this war, from the victims of German invasion, to the innocent German civilian bystanders, and the German military personnel who follow orders and are convinced their actions are justified. The story wraps up with where Ludwika eventually ends up after the Allied armies have liberated the European countries that Hitler had invaded.
Following the fictional story a summary of fact versus fiction is given along with a public plea for anyone having additional information about the decedents of Ludwika Gierz’s Polish family to make contact with either the author or Ludwika’s grand daughter. I find that plea to be heart wrenching as eighty years later families are still trying to reestablish contact with family long after the major players in a war that tore the world apart have passed away. It shows just how extensive was the impact of World War two that two generations later people are still searching for their families.
I hope you will take the time to read this well written historical fiction based upon a real person.