The Wolf Children of the Eastern Front

Sonya Winterberg, Kerstin Lieff

Told by the children who survived, these stories could well be the last eyewitness report of the aftermath of the Second World War.
Date Published :
December 2022
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Illustration :
60 black and white illustrations
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781399014601
Pages : 232
Dimensions : 9.2 X 6.1 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order
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'If this doesn’t move you, I suggest you check your pulse.' –John Kay, frontman of Steppenwolf (born in East Prussia in 1944)

Told by the children who survived, these stories could well be the last eyewitness report of the aftermath of the Second World War. As the land where they once lived was integrated into the Eastern Bloc, their accounts remained hushed until after the Iron Curtain fell. Now, in The Wolf Children of the Eastern Front, they break their silence.

During the bitter winter months of 1944-45, hundreds of thousands of Germans fled East Prussia from an advancing Red Army. With sometimes only minutes’ notice, families escaped in horse-drawn carriages, or they simply ran on foot. In desperation, mothers threw babies onto handcarts, pushing ahead through snowstorms and freezing temperatures. Exhausted, horses broke down, left to die in roadside ditches. Pounding artillery filled the air.

In the ensuing chaos, 20,000 children lost their families – to the mayhem, to starvation, epidemics or gunfire. Even the youngest suddenly found themselves alone in the world, needing to forage for food and find shelter. They hid in bullet-riddled barns and wandered from house to house, begging for help. While many died, there are the few that managed to survive. Their experiences are unimaginable: toes frozen off, endless hunger, rape, physical abuse. Those considered lucky were eventually taken in, even lovingly cared for, primarily by Lithuanian farmers, but nearly to the last of them, they grew into adulthood illiterate and poverty-stricken. Yet a surprising truth lives within nearly every one of these victims – an overwhelming sense of hope and forgiveness.

They are the Wolf Children.

About The Author

Sonya Winterberg is an award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker with roots in Finland and Germany. Much of her work focuses on children growing up in armed conflicts. War and trauma have lasting consequences on their biographies, which she has written about extensively. Her books have been translated into Chinese, Italian, Korean, and Spanish among others. An adoptive mother of two, she is an advocate for social justice and child welfare.

Kerstin Lieff received her Master’s Degree in creative writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University, New Jersey. Her thesis, Letters from Berlin, was the translation of stories and diaries from World War II Germany, published in 2013, and won the Colorado Book Awards for “Best of Biography.” Since then, uncovering and writing what she calls the “second stories” of German history has become her lifelong mission.

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