Cover image for Eleanor's story : an American girl in Hitler's Germany
Eleanor's story : an American girl in Hitler's Germany
Garner, Eleanor Ramrath.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Atlanta, GA : Peachtree, [1999]
Physical Description:
x, 268 pages : illustrations, maps ; 22 cm
Reading Level:
940 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.4 15.0 32276.

Reading Counts RC High School 6.4 21 Quiz: 19196 Guided reading level: NR.
Personal Subject:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D811.5 .G26 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
D811.5 .G26 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

On Order



This dramatic autobiography of Eleanor Ramrath Garner reveals the daily struggles of growing up as a young American caught in World War II Berlin.
During the Great Depression, when she is nine, Eleanor's family moves from her beloved America to Germany, where her father has been offered a good job. But war breaks out as her family is crossing the Atlantic, and they cannot return to the United States.
Eleanor tries to maintain her American identity as she feels herself pulled into the turbulent life roiling around her. She fervently hopes for an Allied victory, yet for years she must try to survive the Allied bombs shattering her neighborhood. Her family faces separations, bombings, hunger, the final fierce battle for Berlin, the Russian invasion, and the terrors of Soviet occupancy.
This compelling story immerses readers in the first-hand account of surviving World War II as a civilian. It's a story of trying to maintain stability, hope, and identity in a world of terror and contrasts, and it puts a very human face on the horrors of war, helping readers understand that each casualty of war is a person, not a number.

Author Notes

ELEANOR RAMRATH GARNER attended Boston University, and pursued a career as a permissions editor for textbook publishers for many years. In addition to being a published non-fiction writer, Garner is an exhibited artist. She is now 69 years old, retired, and living with her husband in San Diego.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-12. One of Garner's haunting childhood memories is the sound of knocking coming from the rubble of newly bombed buildings in Berlin, where she and her family spent the war years. She feared the sound was from doomed victims signaling for help, which could not get to them in time. In this stunning memoir, Garner tells the survival story of civilians in Hitler's Germany, desperately hoping to avoid the wrath of the Gestapo during the war, then facing the cruelty of the postwar Russian occupation. On the eve of World War II, Garner's German-born parents went against the advice of family members and emigrated from New Jersey to Berlin with their two school-age children to enable Mr. Ramrath to take a tantalizing, two-year job offer. Readers follow Eleanor's difficult adjustment to German classrooms, her close and supportive relationship with her slightly older brother, Frank, and her loving but often strained relationship with her parents. As the political scene worsens, the family is plunged into horror, and two years stretches to seven. Not being supporters of Hitler or the Nazi Party, the Ramraths and non-Jewish citizens like them had to be constantly on guard against suspicions of disloyalty. They are dimly aware of the larger Holocaust unfolding around them. This powerful coming-of-age tale is told with intensity and also the freshness of teenage years remembered: there are repeated brutal bombings and countless brushes with death; there are also friends, holiday celebrations, and two babies born to the family during the war, who engage Eleanor's love and protection. There's also a much anticipated return to the U.S. It all coalesces into a must-have memoir about an aspect of wartime survival not often written about in children's literature. --Anne O'Malley

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-8-When the author was nine, her parents elected to return to their native Germany, where her father had been offered an attractive job. Though it was 1939 and Hitler had already invaded Czechoslovakia, her family saw only opportunity in their decision. While they were crossing the Atlantic, war was declared and their emigration became irrevocable. Garner was not to see America again until she was 16. The family members spent much of the war in Berlin and suffered hardships and privations and lived in fear. Yet, it is to Garner's credit that she does not make them out to be more heroic than they were. They escaped bombs, bullets, conscription, malnutrition, and molestation. Every member of her immediate family survived the war. This required considerable resourcefulness, occasional bravery, and an extraordinary amount of luck. It is curious that when the author was 13, she stumbled upon the concentration camp at Waldenburg, but didn't mention it to her mother. She says that she wondered, "What is this place?-A prison camp? Who are these people? Are they the ones who work in the factory?" Even as an adult writing this memoir, she doesn't confront the truth that this was a concentration camp. The writing is pedestrian and somewhat dry and the characters are memorable only for their ordinariness and pettiness. Still, this is a unique survival story that libraries may want to own.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Prologuep. ix
Mapsp. xii
1 Stratford, September 1938-August 1939p. 1
2 Changes, August 1939-September 1939p. 17
3 Early Days in Berlin, Fall 1939-Spring 1940p. 25
4 Hitler Youth and a Visit to Stolp, Spring 1940-Summer 1941p. 40
5 Entrance into High School, Summer 1941-Winter 1941/42p. 56
6 First Communion and Evacuation to Bansin, January 1942-Fall 1942p. 71
A Family Album, Part 1p. 91
7 Childhood Lost, January 1943-March 1943p. 95
8 A Special Birthday Present and Back to Stolp, Spring 1943-Fall 1943p. 112
9 Move to Waldenburg, Winter 1943-Summer 1944p. 129
10 Waldenburg, Late Summer 1944-Winter 1944/45p. 145
11 A Dying Berlin and the Last Battle, January 1945-April 1945p. 162
12 Life under the Russians, April 1945-May 1945p. 178
13 Fifteen and I'm Going to Live, May 1945-Summer 1945p. 192
14 Occupied Berlin, Summer 1945-Spring 1946p. 209
A Family Album, Part 2p. 225
15 Return to America, Spring 1946-July 1946p. 231
16 Home Is the Stranger, July 1946-December 1946p. 248
Epiloguep. 263
Author's Notep. 265