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About Annette Oppenlander
Annette Oppenlander is an award-winning writer, literary coach and educator. As a bestselling historical novelist, Oppenlander is known for her authentic characters and stories based on true events, coming alive in well-researched settings. Having lived in Germany the first half of her life and the second half in various parts in the U.S., Oppenlander inspires readers by illuminating story questions as relevant today as they were in the past.
Oppenlander’s bestselling true WWII story, Surviving the Fatherland, has received eight awards/nominations, including the 2017 National Indie Excellence Award, the 2018 Indie B.R.A.G. and the 2020 Skoutz Award in Germany. Uniquely, Oppenlander weaves actual historical figures and events into her plots, giving readers a flavor of true history while enjoying a good story. Oppenlander shares her knowledge through writing workshops at colleges, libraries and schools. She also offers vivid presentations and author visits. The mother of fraternal twins and a son, she now lives in her hometown, Solingen, Germany with her husband.
“Nearly every place holds some kind of secret, something that makes history come alive. When we scrutinize people and places closely, history is no longer a date or number, it turns into a story.”
More infos at annetteoppenlander.com
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"...intriguing and fascinating young adult adventure..." Readers' Favorite
'47 DAYS' is a novelette and an excerpt from the award-winning biographical novel, SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND--A True Coming-of-age Love Story Set in WWII Germany.
In March 1945 Hitler ordered his last propaganda command: send all 15 and 16-year old boys to defend the fatherland. 47 DAYS tells the true story of Günter and Helmut, best friends, who dared to defy and disobey. Without knowing how long the war might continue, they spent 47 harrowing days as fugitives on the run. Being caught meant certain execution.
SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND tells the true and heart-wrenching stories of Lilly and Günter struggling with the terror-filled reality of life in the Third Reich, each embarking on their own dangerous path toward survival, freedom, and ultimately each other. Based on the author's own family and anchored in historical facts, this story celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the strength of war children.
"...a fantastic read that is impossible to put down and will steal the hearts of all true romantics, as well as historical fiction buffs. I can highly recommend this book." Readers' Favorite Five Stars
A heart-wrenching love story for the ages – inspired by true events
Eastern Prussia, 1944: Young lovers Annie and Werner are separated from each other when he is drafted into Hitler’s Volkssturm. While the SS orders Werner to remove the dead bodies of frozen refugees from Königsberg’s streets, Annie discovers she is pregnant. As she urgently awaits Werner’s return, rumors of the advancing Red Army mount and with it, alarming reports of what they do to women. Running for their lives, Annie and her mother embark on a life-threatening journey west. Even before they can escape by boat, Annie makes a horrifying mistake, one that will haunt her forever. Werner, arrested and imprisoned in a Russian gulag, manages to escape after four months of cruelty and returns home. But his and Annie’s farms lie abandoned—the love of his life and his own family have vanished…
East Berlin, 1989: On the evening of November 9, when the borders between East and West Berlin open for the first time in nearly thirty years—a day which ultimately heralds Germany’s reunification—Annie watches a correspondent on West TV who reminds her of her childhood sweetheart Werner, the man she has thought dead for 45 years. Together with her daughter Emma, Annie sets out on a search...
"A must read!" InD'Tale Magazine
"...I was sucked into the story due to her incredible storytelling skills and true-to-life characters...highly recommended." Readers' Favorite Five Stars
When They Made Us Leave tells the touching love story of Hilda and Peter, whose budding relationship ends abruptly when they are forced to attend separate evacuation camps during WWII. Each confronted with terror and cruelty as well as unexpected kindness, they must rise above to survive the war and find each other once more.
Solingen, 1943: As bombs carpet Germany and fourteen-year old Hilda is falling in love with her childhood friend and next-door neighbor, Peter, he excitedly takes off to an evacuation camp in Pomerania, six hundred miles from home. Though Peter soon finds that his expectations are far from reality, he is ordered to write happy letters home, even when things take a turn for the worse and a new Hitler youth leader attempts to convert camp into a military battalion.
Meanwhile, Hilda must unwillingly accompany her classmates to a cloister in Bavaria run by a draconian Abbess. There Hilda struggles to overcome her homesickness and yearning for Peter while helping a classmate hide her bedwetting accidents.
As Germany is buried under rubble and supplies shorten, Peter lands at an inn near Gdansk. By now, all he wants is to go home. But his new teacher, a staunch national socialist, deems their place safe despite the refugees from the east whispering of German defeat by an advancing Russian Army.
When the cloister is converted into a German field hospital, enemy planes destroy Hilda’s homebound train and kill her teacher. Weeks later, tired and hungry, she arrives home to find her mother safe. But Peter has not returned, nor is there any news of him. Refusing to believe the worst, she must survive in a barely recognizable world.
Based on true-life accounts of participants in the wide-sweeping and much-loathed children’s evacuation program of Hitler’s Germany, award-winning ‘Surviving the Fatherland’ author Annette Oppenlander offers another heart-wrenching contribution to the history of the children’s war.
Winner/Nominee of eight awards
“This book needs to join the ranks of the classic survivor stories of WWII such as ‘Diary of Anne Frank’ and ‘Man's Search for Meaning’. It is truly that amazing!” InD'tale Magazine
“This type of raw, articulate, history-based storytelling pays homage to the war children who bore witness while struggling to survive.” Publishers Weekly (PW)
Based on a true story and set against the epic panorama of WWII, SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND is a sweeping saga of family, love, and betrayal that illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the children's war - a tale of two youths whose courage and resilience stands for the forgotten childhood of an entire generation.
Solingen, Germany, 1940: When her father goes off to war, seven-year-old Lilly is left with an unkind mother who favors her brother and chooses to ignore the lecherous pedophile next door. A few blocks away, twelve-year-old Günter also loses his father to the draft and quickly takes charge of supplementing his family's ever-dwindling rations by any means necessary.
As the war escalates and bombs begin to rain, Lilly and Günter's lives spiral out of control. Every day is a fight for survival. On a quest for firewood, Lilly encounters a dying soldier and steals her father's last suit to help the man escape. Barely sixteen, Günter ignores his draft call and embarks as a fugitive on a harrowing 47-day ordeal--always just one step away from execution.
When at last the war ends, Günter grapples with his brother's severe PTSD and the fact that none of his classmates survived. Welcoming denazification, Lilly takes a desperate step to rid herself once and for all of her disgusting neighbor's grip. When Lilly and Günter meet in 1949, their love affair is like any other. Or so it seems. But old wounds and secrets have a way of rising to the surface once more.
2017 National Indie Excellence Award, 2019 Gold Global eBook Award, 2018 Indie B.R.A.G. Award, 2017 Winner Chill with a Book Readers’ Award, Finalist 2017 Kindle Book Awards, 2018 Readers’ Favorite Book Award, Discovered Diamond Historical Novel, An IWIC Hall of Fame Novel, 2020 Skoutz Award Silver (German translation)
As Germany enters its last war year and precious resources, especially available and combat-ready men, become scarce, Hitler decides it is time to exploit Germany’s teens. Unlike typical battle stories, this collection of true accounts follows four fifteen- to seventeen-year old boys as they struggle with the ever-crumbling Reich, trying to stay alive against the odds.
- Visiting his brother, Hans, who serves as a radioman near the Dutch boarder, Günter narrowly escapes the oncoming artillery fire of Allied troops…
- Günter and his best friend, Helmut, are drafted in the spring of 1945. Instead of following orders, they decide to hide, spending seven weeks on the run…
- Arthur still believes, Germany is winning, when American troops march into his youth camp in late April 1945. He and his classmates are arrested and shipped to Dachau, the just liberated death camp. But being a prisoner is only the beginning of his ordeal…
- When the war ends in May 1945, Hans does not return. Günter and his mother fear the worst. Until July, when a skeletal visitor appears at their door…
Beginning in the fall of 1944 and ending in the summer of 1945, this collection contains 47 Days and A Lightness in My Soul, two novellas—also published separately—as well as two short stories.
"Oppenlander's rich, gritty descriptions are a joy to read. Her touching story moves along quickly, but will keep you in suspense until the final pages." -Historical Novel Society
"I highly recommend this historical book for all Civil War fans but also for those who just enjoy a good human story that will make you smile and cry." Readers' Favorite Five Stars
"I fell in love with this book." -Our Town Book Reviews
"...a well-deserved 5+ stars." -Locks, Hooks and Books
"...full of rich details..." -Books Direct
"...dramatic twists did make me think of some of those grand tales like North and South and Gone with the Wind..." -Andy's Young Adult Books
"An entertaining read for those who love historical fiction." -Nancy Fraser, Award Winning Author
Two friends--one black, one white.
Torn apart by an attack gone wrong.
One escapes into war, the other is sold into slavery.
Told from alternating viewpoints, one black and one white, Surviving the Fatherland author Annette Oppenlander delivers another stunning historical tale set against the epic backdrop of the American Civil War--a breathtaking examination of the power of hope and friendship, and the endurance of the human spirit to find a way home.
Tennessee, 1861. Fifteen-year-old farm boy Adam Brown would do anything to protect his friend Tip, a slave at the neighboring plantation--even if it means fighting Nathan Billings, the rich and obnoxious landowner's son. But when it seems his attack has killed Nathan, Adam has no choice but to run away and join the Union Army under an assumed name. Together with Wes, a chatty soldier with a few secrets of his own, Adam embarks on a traumatic odyssey through the war-torn Midwest. As his soul darkens with the atrocities of war, all he wants is to go home. But in order to do that--if he survives--he must face his past.
Unbeknownst to Adam, sixteen-year old Tip is sold to a farmer who takes drunken pleasure in torturing his slaves. Tip quickly realizes that if he wants to survive he must run. Ahead lie hundreds of miles of unknown country, infested by slave owners, traders, starvation and cold. And so begins a journey of escape and recapture, of brutal attacks and unexpected kindness. When a rescue by the Underground Railroad goes terribly wrong, Tip finds himself caring for a pregnant runaway, his journey seemingly at an end. They have reached the Ohio River, a vast watery expanse impossible to cross. It is only a matter of time before roaming slave traders will pick them up--he will never see his mother and his best friend again.
"...incredibly moving...most highly recommended." Readers' Favorite Five Stars
Inspired by the incredible true story of a German teen taken prisoner at the end of WWII, determined to survive and to reunite with his mother - A Lightness in My Soul is a tribute to the triumph of hope and redemption against all odds.
Germany, October 2019: In a car repair shop an elderly man waits next to a woman. They begin to talk about the Great War, when he was just a teen. He tells her a story, one he has never shared—his own.
Bavaria, April 1945: For the last two years, fifteen-year old Arthur and his classmates have lived in a youth camp. Far from home and allied bombs they spend their days with lessons, hikes, play fights and helping local farmers harvest ever decreasing crops. They have been told that the war will be over soon and that they’ll return home to a victorious Germany.
When the U.S. Army marches into camp, they are arrested and taken to the just liberated Dachau concentration camp. Everything they ever believed turns out to be false. They were lied to… not only has Germany lost the war, what they find is monstrous. But being a prisoner is only the beginning of their ordeal…
A historical coming-of-age adventure for readers of A Separate Peace and The Catcher in the Rye.
"...a powerful and thought provoking tale that allows us to think about our moral decisions." -Readers' Favorite
What would you do if your best friend were attacked? Forget about it like they want you to or find out who did it? Even if it may cost you everything. In 1968 sixteen-year old Andy Olson’s family ships him off to Palmer Military Academy. There, along with his best friend, Tom, he’s plunged into a world where rules are everything and disobedience not an option. When Tom openly supports the peace movement, Andy grows increasingly irritated. He doesn’t care about politics and the raging Vietnam War. Besides, messing with their bullying teammates is dangerous, underestimating fanatics like Officer Muller, the tormentor of plebes a mistake. It’s hard enough to make it through each day, avoid counselor Beerbelly’s spying eyes and extra marching. Andy plans to play a little football, visit Maddie, a townie with eyes like the Caribbean Sea and lie low until graduation.
But the war has a way of reaching Andy, he couldn’t have imagined. His privileged classmates with deep pockets and connections to the Dean call Tom a traitor. Maddie’s brother, a Vietnam vet confined to a wheelchair, aims to stop Andy from seeing Maddie. And there’s Sarge, a dedicated soldier turned teacher who takes an interest in Andy’s career. When Tom is attacked and the school calls it an unfortunate accident, Andy decides to make a choice that will not only threaten his future but his life.
“…a remarkable read that explores the levels of good and evil to be found in human beings.” Historical Novel Society
A chance encounter between a penniless young woman in search of her missing brother and a hobo burdened with a big secret takes both on a journey to Chicago’s glamorous yet crime-ridden 1920s, where prostitution, bootlegging, and corruption rule. Separated by fate and reunited by chance, WHERE THE NIGHT NEVER ENDS is an unforgettable tale of courage and perseverance, a tribute to the triumph of hope and love against all odds.
Cincinnati 1924: When feisty and headstrong Samantha Bruno loses her mother in a freak accident, she decides to search for her brother, Angelo, who didn’t return from a business trip to Chicago seven months earlier. It is the year 1924, the height of prohibition, and the city of Cincinnati is in the midst of a deep recession. Narrowly escaping a band of thugs, Sam meets Paul, a mysterious hobo with a big secret. Together they embark on a harrowing journey to Chicago, where Al Capone is building an empire.
Just when it seems their friendship is blossoming into something more, a raid tears Sam and Paul apart. Sam is sold into a brothel while Paul is arrested. Trapped without money and desperate to escape her new profession, Sam realizes she is on her own. Not only to free herself and search for her brother among Chicago’s three million residents, but also to do the impossible—find Paul.
During his hearing, Paul learns that his father, a wealthy Chicago inventor, is on his deathbed. The judge, an old family friend, gives Paul an ultimatum. See your father or go to jail. Reluctantly, Paul returns home, where he finds that his decision to run away seven years earlier was based on a terrible mistake.
Narrated in alternating chapters by Sam and Paul, with rich historical detail, complex characters, and stunning prose, award-winning author Annette Oppenlander once again delivers a touching novel that lets us imagine what it was like to live and love during the roaring 1920s.
»… eine fantastische Lektüre, die man nicht aus der Hand legen kann und die die Herzen aller echten Romantiker und Liebhaber historischer Romane erobern wird. Ich kann dieses Buch sehr empfehlen.« Readers’ Favorite Fünf Sterne
Eine herzzerreißende Liebesgeschichte für die Ewigkeit – inspiriert von wahren Begebenheiten
Ostpreußen, 1944: Das junge Liebespaar Annie und Werner muss sich trennen, als er in Hitlers Volkssturm eingezogen wird. Während die SS Werner befiehlt, die Leichen erfrorener Flüchtlinge von den Straßen Königsbergs zu entfernen, entdeckt Annie, dass sie schwanger ist. Dazu häufen sich die Gerüchte über den Vormarsch der Roten Armee und damit auch die alarmierenden Berichte darüber, was diese mit Mädchen und Frauen macht. Schweren Herzens begeben sich Annie und ihre Mutter im Januar 1945 auf eine lebensgefährliche Reise nach Westen. Noch bevor sie in Pillau mit dem Boot fliehen können, unterläuft Annie ein folgenschwerer Fehler. Werner, der verhaftet und in einem russischen Kriegsgefangenenlager eingesperrt wird, gelingt nach vier Monaten der Grausamkeit die Flucht. Doch die Höfe seiner Eltern und von Annie liegen verlassen da – die Liebe seines Lebens und seine Familie sind verschwunden …
Ostberlin, 1989: Am Abend des 9. November, als sich die Grenzen zwischen Ost- und Westberlin zum ersten Mal seit fast dreißig Jahren öffnen – ein Tag, der schließlich die Wiedervereinigung Deutschlands einläutet –, bemerkt Annie im Westfernsehen einen Korrespondenten, der sie an ihre Jugendliebe Werner erinnert, an den Mann, den sie seit fünfundvierzig Jahren für tot hält. Gemeinsam mit ihrer Tochter Emma begibt sich Annie auf die Suche …
»Oppenlanders üppige, ungeschminkte Beschreibungen sind eine Freude zu lesen. Ihre berührende Geschichte … wird Sie … bis zu den letzten Seiten in Atem halten.« Historical Novel Society
»Ich kann dieses historische Buch allen, die sich für den amerikanischen Bürgerkrieg interessieren, empfehlen, aber auch denen, die eine gute Geschichte genießen, die sie zum Lächeln und Weinen bringt.« Readers‘ Favorite fünf Sterne
Vor dem epischen Hintergrund des amerikanischen Bürgerkriegs erzählt Annette Oppenlander, die preisgekrönte Autorin von Vaterland, wo bist Du?, aus wechselnden Blickwinkeln eine weitere atemberaubende Geschichte – eine fesselnde Abhandlung über Hoffnung und Freundschaft und die Ausdauer der menschlichen Willenskraft, einen Weg in die Heimat zu finden.
Tennessee, 1861: Der fünfzehnjährige Bauernjunge Adam Brown würde alles tun, um seinen Freund Tip, einen Sklaven auf der benachbarten Plantage, zu beschützen – auch wenn es bedeutet, sich mit Nathan Billings, dem Sohn des reichsten Landbesitzers in Tennessee, anzulegen. Aber als es so aussieht, als hätte Adam Nathan im Streit getötet, gerät er in Panik und tritt unter falschem Namen der Unionsarmee bei. Zusammen mit Wes, einem geschwätzigen Jungen, der selbst Geheimnisse hütet, beginnt Adam eine traumatische Odyssee durch den vom Bürgerkrieg heimgesuchten Mittleren Westen. Während sich seine Seele durch die Gräueltaten des Krieges verdunkelt, will er nur noch nach Hause. Aber um dorthin zurückkehren zu können, muss er sich – wenn er denn überlebt – seiner Vergangenheit stellen.
Ohne Adams Wissen wird der sechzehnjährige Tip an einen Bauern verkauft, der im Alkoholrausch Freude daran hat, seine Sklaven zu foltern. Tip begreift, dass er weglaufen muss, wenn er überleben will. Doch um in die rettenden Nordstaaten zu gelangen, in dem Schwarze als freie Menschen leben können, muss er hunderte Kilometer unbekannten Landes durchqueren, das von Sklavenbesitzern, Händlern, Hunger und Kälte befallen ist. Und so beginnt eine Odyssee der Flucht und Wiederergreifung, brutaler Angriffe und unerwarteter Freundlichkeit. Als eine Rettung durch die Underground Railroad – ein Netzwerk, das flüchtenden Sklaven hilft – fehlschlägt und Tip sich um eine schwangere Ausreißerin kümmern muss, scheint seine Reise zu Ende zu sein. Es ist nur eine Frage der Zeit, bis umherstreifende Sklavenhändler sie erwischen – dann wird er seine Mutter und seinen besten Freund niemals wiedersehen. Wird es ihm gelingen, allen Gefahren zu trotzen?
»Dieses Buch gehört in die gleiche Liga wie die klassischen Erlebnisberichte über den Zweiten Weltkrieg, beispielsweise ›Das Tagebuch der Anne Frank‹ und ›Trotzdem Ja zum Leben sagen – Ein Psychologe erlebt das Konzentrationslager‹. Es ist wirklich so großartig!« InD'tale Magazine
Annette Oppenlanders mehrfach preisgekrönter biografischer Roman beleuchtet einfühlsam und mitreißend einen selten behandelten Teil des dunkelsten Kapitels deutscher Geschichte: das Schicksal der Kinder im Zweiten Weltkrieg.
Vaterland, wo bist Du? erzählt die wahre Lebens-und Liebesgeschichte von Lilly und Günter, die als Kinder über Nacht mit den Schrecken des Dritten Reichs konfrontiert werden. Beide müssen fortan auf vielfältige Weise ums Überleben kämpfen. Dabei erfahren sie Grausamkeit und Betrug, aber auch Liebe und überraschende Warmherzigkeit. Als sie sich in den Nachkriegsjahren begegnen, verlieben sie sich Hals über Kopf ineinander und werden ein Paar. Doch alte Wunden brechen wieder auf und bedrohen das neugefundene Glück. Wird es ihnen gelingen, die Dämonen der Vergangenheit zu bezwingen?
Diese Erzählung zelebriert die Unverwüstlichkeit der menschlichen Willenskraft und die Stärke der Kriegskinder.
Die wahre Geschichte zweier Kinder
»Im Jahr 2002 interviewte ich meine Eltern über ihre Erlebnisse als Kriegskinder. Aus diesen Interviews wuchs über 15 Jahre der biografische Roman, der das Leben meiner Eltern von 1940 bis 1954 nachempfindet. Auch kann die Geschichte meiner Eltern stellvertretend für die Schicksale von Millionen deutschen Kindern im Dritten Reich stehen.« Annette Oppenlander
2020 Silber Skoutz Award, 2017 National Indie Excellence Award, 2018 Indie B.R.A.G. Award, 2019 Gold Global eBook Awards, 2018 Chill with a Book Readers' Award, 2018 Bronze Readers' Favorite Book Award, Finalist 2017 Kindle Book Awards, 2018 Discovered Diamond Historical Novel