About the Book
As Hitler’s Third Reich crumbles and Stalin’s army advances, German civilians in the Eastern territories are forced to flee for their lives.
Leaving her dying mother, Liesel and her four young children hope they can make it from their home in Poland across the Oder River to safety. But all that awaits them is terror and uncertainty in a brutal new regime that threatens to tear Liesel’s family apart.
With her husband a prisoner of war in Russia and her children enslaved, Liesel’s desire for hearth and home is thwarted by opposing political forces, leaving her to wonder if they will ever be a family again.
Based on a true story.
Introduction Yalta, February 1945
Stalin traced his finger along the Curzon line which encompassed the cities of Brest and Lwów. Regarding the other world leaders with a steely gaze, he squared his shoulders so that his epaulets formed a straight and rigid line. “I will settle for the Eastern territories and nothing less.”
All of those present knew that the co-operation of the Soviet forces, allied with the Western powers, had been critical in turning the tide against Nazi Germany.
Churchill tightened his jowls around his cigar. He was not comfortable conceding anything to Stalin and even viewed Roosevelt with some distrust.
Roosevelt flicked the ashes from his cigarette into the ashtray and coughed; a sound that rattled from deep within his chest. He pulled the matchbox towards himself and looked up, his pale face thoughtful.
Shaking out a number of matches, he arranged them on the map along the crooked lines of the Oder and Neisse rivers. “If we do what you propose, perhaps it would be prudent to give the territories of Pomerania and Prussia to Poland.”
Churchill removed the cigar from his mouth. “But what of the people living in that region? These are German territories and many Germans live within the General Government area as well. Surely we will experience more bloodshed if we make this part of the new Poland.” His ample jaw hung slack. “These nationalities need to be separated. We cannot have Poles and Germans together and expect them to live in peace after the atrocities of this war.”
Stalin stroked his moustache and waited for his turn to speak.
Though a cunning and ruthless man, patience was one of his better virtues. When at last he had opportunity to answer, it was a gross exaggeration, but one that would likely accomplish his own aims of domination.
“Most have fled the region,” he shrugged.
“Well,” said Roosevelt. “Why should we not simply evacuate the remainder of the German population—in an orderly and humane manner, of course, and assist Poland in the set-up of its new and independent government.”
Ernst’s face was cast in darkness; his tall frame a shadow in the open doorway.
“I’m in the army now,” he said, his solemn voice fading as he backed away into the night. “I can no longer give you my protection.”
Submerged in the blackness of loss, paralyzed to reach out, Liesel pleaded to her husband, “Come back!” Her voice echoed off the wall.
Simultaneously she heard the rumbling of a truck motor and a tinny voice on a bullhorn. “All German citizens of the Third Reich are to evacuate as soon as possible. You are no longer under the protection of the German army.”
Liesel’s eyes fluttered open and her conscious mind recalled that Ernst had left their home in Poland months ago and was missing in action, somewhere in Russia.
The blackout curtains were securely in place. A single gas lamp, dimly lit, cast a soft glow on the green tiles of the Kachelofen. On the hearth ledge of the large ceramic stove, a few sticks of kindling poked out of the wood box. Above the mantel the cuckoo clock ticked softly, its pendulum swinging gently back and forth in counterpoint to Liesel’s racing heart.
In the gloom, silent companions watched from the walls; Ernst in his Wehrmacht uniform and his brother attired in the black garb of the “Schutz-Staffel”, sepia sillouettes of Liesel’s parents and grandparents and a portrait of her children, taken near the beginning of the war.
Kurt and Olaf stood on either side of Liesel like miniature sentinels in the matching dark suits she had made for them. Edeltraud was only a baby sitting on Liesel’s lap, wearing a perfectly tailored coat and a ruffled hat. Rudy stood next to the chair, his face turned slightly as if his attention was elsewhere.
The announcement reverberated down the street. “Allied forces are advancing. You are no longer under the protection of the German army. All German citizens of the Third Reich, General Government, are to evacuate to the west.”
Startled, now fully awake, her heart pounded and icy fingers of terror crept over her. Reich citizens of the General Government of Poland. That meant her. Evacuate her home? With four young children? Thoughts swirling anxiously, she wondered how she would manage everything in her condition.
Pulling her sweater tight against the sudden chill of the room, she heaved herself out of the rocking chair she had fallen asleep in, knocking over a half empty glass of tea in the process. Amber liquid splashed on the braided throw rug and streamed out across the floor in several directions.
She felt the baby move within her. It would only be a few more weeks and she hoped for a girl, a sister for four-year-old Edeltraud. A girl wouldn’t be drafted into the army.
Liesel forced herself to take a deep breath. Words she had learned long ago came to mind and she whispered them to herself. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe.” She repeated this a few times until the panic receded enough for her to think.
About the Author
As a fascinating family story unfolded over the years, Rose set out to make it into a novel. During the process she has realized that fiction can play a role in telling the truth and that the Giver of all good gifts is present in the creative efforts of His children.
THREATEN TO UNDO US (MAY 2015) is the result of years of research, revealing a history that few in the Western world are familiar with. The novel is based on the real life story of a family torn apart by two powerful regimes during and after World War Two.
Rose won a “His imprint” award for a short story in 2013, was short-listed for a Word Guild Award in 2012 and has been published in “Light Magazine.” Two inspirational non-fiction pieces will appear in the HOT APPLE CIDER WITH CINNAMON compilation in Fall 2015.
Since fifth grade, Rose has known she liked to write, but her career path has taken several turns including bookkeeping, piano teaching and mother of four. She lives in Surrey, B.C. and lives with her husband Andy and their two youngest children.