Cover image for The Nazi officer's wife : how one Jewish woman survived the Holocaust
The Nazi officer's wife : how one Jewish woman survived the Holocaust
Hahn-Beer, Edith, 1914-2009.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [1999]
Physical Description:
305 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Edith Hahn tells how she survived the Holocaust, first by going underground, using a Christian friend's identity papers, and eventually marrying Werner Vetter, a Nazi Party member who knew she was Jewish.
General Note:
First Perennial edition published 2000.
Personal Subject:
Added Author:


Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS135.A93 B44 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
DS135.A93 B44 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
DS135.A93 B44 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
DS135.A93 B44 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

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Edith Hahn was an outspoken young woman in Vienna when the Gestapo forced her into a ghetto and then into a slave 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 how German officials casually questioned the lineage of her parents; how during childbirth she refused all painkillers, afraid that in an altered state of mind she might reveal something of her past; and how, after her husband was captured by the Soviets, she was bombed out of her house and had to hide while drunken Russian soldiers raped women on the street.

Despite the risk it posed to her life, Edith created a remarkable record of survival. She saved every document, as well as photographs she took 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.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Born to a middle-class, nonobservant Jewish family, Beer was a popular teenager and successful law student when the Nazis moved into Austria. In a well-written narrative that reads like a novel, she relates the escalating fear and humiliating indignities she and others endured, as well as the anti-Semitism of friends and neighbors. Using all their resources, her family bribed officials for exit visas for her two sisters, but Edith and her mother remained, due to lack of money and Edith's desire to be near her half-Jewish boyfriend, Pepi. Eventually, Edith was deported to work in a labor camp in Germany. Anxious about her mother, she obtained permission to return to Vienna, only to learn that her mother was gone. In despair, Edith tore off her yellow star and went underground. Pepi, himself a fugitive, distanced himself from her. A Christian friend gave Edith her own identity papers, and Edith fled to Munich, where she met andÄdespite her confession to him that she was JewishÄmarried Werner Vetter, a Nazi party member. Submerging her Jewish identity at home and at work, Edith lived in constant fear, even refusing anesthetic in labor to avoid inadvertently revealing the truth about her past. She successfully maintained the facade of a loyal German hausfrau until the war ended. Her story is important both as a personal testament and as an inspiring example of perseverance in the face of terrible adversity. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Beer grows up an assimilated Jew in pre-Nazi Vienna; she even attends law school and plans to be a judge. She falls in love with another secular Jew and plans a happy life; then she is expelled, first from school, then from all normal activities. To survive, she adopts the identity of a Christian friend, becoming a "U boat" (a Jew hiding among Nazis). The author then falls in love with a Nazi; they marry, and she becomes Grete, the perfect Third Reich hausfrau and mother, even though her husband knows that she is Jewish. After the war, the real Edith emerges and works as a judge. She rescues her husband from a labor camp, but he doesn't want her anymore, because she is no longer a subservient wife and their child is a Jew. Eventually Beer and her daughter move to England. This is a factual retelling, not an introspective autobiography. Does Beer have any survivor's or collaborator's guilt? For this recording, the talented Barbara Rosenblat uses a clear, slightly accented English enunciation that just matches Beer's Viennese background. Partially because this book has also been made into a movie, it is likely to be a more popular choice than other, perhaps more thoughtful, Holocaust narratives. Recommended for moderate to large Judaica libraries and large academic or public libraries.-I. Pour-El, Des Moines Area Community Coll., Boone, IA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.