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Inge's War Reviews

Inge's War by Svenja O'Donnell

Inge's War

A Story of Family, Secrets and Survival under Hitler

Svenja O'Donnell

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Ebury Press
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Publication date: 6 Aug 2020
ISBN: 9781529105452

'A lyrical, engrossing and essential read' - Sathnam Sanghera 'A superbly nuanced reclamation of history and family secrets' - Brian Van Reet, author of Spoils What does it mean to be on the wrong side of history? Svenja O'Donnell's beautiful, aloof grandmother Inge never spoke about the past.

4 stars out of 5
Blake Morrison
21 Dec 2020

"a fascinating book"

The men and women who came through the second world war, building new lives for themselves in the ruins, were especially taciturn, none more so than Svenja O’Donnell’s German grandmother Inge, who’d been a 19-year-old with a baby when the advancing Red Army forced her to flee her home in Königsberg in January 1945. But for the promptings of her granddaughter, the dramas Inge was part of in the years either side of that escape might have remained a secret. But in her 80s she began to open up a little. What she revealed over the next 10 years, and Svenja supplemented with her own discoveries, has resulted in a fascinating book.


4 stars out of 5
18 Aug 2020

"Inge’s War is a worthy addition to the growing canon of literature by and about the Vertriebene"

Inge’s War is not just the story of a life — it’s about the relationship between a woman and her grandmother, one in which O’Donnell gradually chips away at the wall of silence Inge has erected. The repressed trauma of the war years bubbles back to the surface. Family secrets are revealed and a story emerges about first love betrayed, chaos and flight, and sexual violence, shame and despair. O’Donnell, a journalist, says her book is “not a tale of heroism or evil, but of survival”. Inge’s story of violence and displacement was “one shared by many women who became collateral damage in the wreckage of Europe’s collapse”.