BOOMERBROADcast

The voice of baby boomers, the silenced majority. Rants and reflections on lifestyle, fashion, current events, books and movies.

Three young women: three different war experiences

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Best-seller Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly was not easy to read. At the same time, it was not easy to put down. It’s the compelling story of three women from three different countries during World War II and author Martha Kelly tells their individual stories in the first person so we feel intimately connected to each one. What makes this book particularly engaging is it’s based on the lives and diaries of real women; two of the names are real; one a pseudonym. Other characters are composites and some are fictional for the sake of the narrative. The lilacs referred to in the title form a common thread in various locations in the story.

Kasia is a young Polish high school student whose sister is a doctor. The family is horrified to witness the abuses inflicted by the Nazi Party. She naïvely chooses to help a school friend by engaging in underground activity which attracts the attention of local authorities. Despite being practising Catholics, the family members are deemed political enemies. Kasia, her sister and their mother are deported in 1941 to Ravensbrück concentration camp for women in Germany.

Herta Oberheuser. The face of evil.

Dr. Herta Oberheuser practised the most evil sort of medicine at Ravensbrück and was the only female doctor at the camp. She was a true Nazi and even during her trial at Nuremberg and incarceration after the war she showed no remorse for the horrors she inflicted on the women who were known as “lapins” or experimental rabbits. The author created a speculative story about a real person. Along with dozens of other young women, Kasia and her sister Zuzanna are subjected to multiple medical experiments by Oberheuser and her associates. Camp doctors broke bones, removed flesh and otherwise mutilated the young women to replicate and test the effects of various battle injuries and treatments that could be used for German soldiers. Their wounds were deliberately infected with gangrene, shards of glass, dirt and various bacteria as part of the experiments.

Caroline Ferriday, an American saviour.

Caroline Ferriday was an unmarried New York socialite and former Broadway actress who volunteered at the French consulate in the early years of the war.  When the consulate was closed during the Nazi occupation of France her volunteerism went into high gear, assisted by her mother who was a long-time activist for worthy causes. The family also owned an apartment in Paris where prior to the war they had spent a great deal of time. Caroline took a particular interest in French orphans, raising money and collecting clothing and other items to be boxed and sent to France. With her network of influential friends and by selling many of her personal belongings, Ferriday was untiring in rallying support for victims of the war.

A gathering of some of the Ravensbruk women receiving treatment in the U.S. after the war.

Many of the Ravensbrück women survived the war and formed a collective group sponsored and supported by Caroline Ferriday. With her elite connections, she was able to raise funds to bring many of the women to the United States for medical attention aimed at repairing the effects of the experiments they endured at Ravensbrück. The relationship between Ferriday and her group of women continued until her death in 1990. The book is the story of strength, endurance, persistence and compassion. And it’s a reminder that one person can make a difference. Rating: 9 out of 10.

To order Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly from Amazon.ca, click here.

Author: Lynda Davis

As an early Baby Boomer, born in 1947, it seems to me that as we approach our retirement years, Boomers have gone from being the energy driving our nation to slowly becoming invisible. We risk losing our identity as society remains stubbornly youth-centric. And the irony is that Gen Xers and Ys are not the majority; we are. BOOMERBROADcast is my platform for being the voice of Baby Boomers, women in particular. We've generated a lot of changes over the decades but there's still a long way to go. After a 40-year career in the corporate world, I've taken up expressing the observations and concerns of our generation. Instead of pounding the pavement in my bellbottoms with a cardboard sign, I'm pounding my laptop (I learned to type on a manual typewriter and old habits die hard). If you have issues or concerns you would like voiced or have comments on what I've voiced, I'd love to hear from you. We started breaking the rules in the sixties and now that we're in our sixties it's no time to become complacent. Hope you'll stay tuned and if you like BOOMERBROADcast, share it with your friends. Let's rock n' roll! If you would like to be notified whenever I publish a new posting, click on the little blue box in the lower right of your screen that says +Follow→ Lynda Davis

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