Press

DIVIDED LIVES


Nov 2001
Cincinnati Magazine

Half-Life
By Amanda Boyd

You're a German Christian, recently confirmed in your Protestant church. The rituals and rites of that religion are as familiar to you as the sound of your own voice. But it is the late 1930s, the time of the Nuremberg race laws, and your mother's mother was born a Jew. That means you are a Jew, a Mischlinge (literally, half-caste), subject to the Reich's laws restricting those with Jewish blood. Your life will never be the same.

Ten German women who survived the Reich despite their Mischlinge status tell their stories in Cynthia Crane's new book Divided Lives: The Untold Stories of Jewish-Christian Women in Nazi Germany (St. Martin's Press). Crane, who teaches English at UC's Raymond Walters College, found inspiration for the project in her own family. "My grandfather was considered 'non-Aryan,' and Jewish, and my grandmother 'Aryan' and Christian," Crane says. "My father was the one who was mistreated, beaten up every day in school by his Nazi teacher." (Crane's father arrived in the U.S. in 1939.)

Crane spent eight years interviewing women and translating their stories of harassment, abuse, terror and secrecy into the narratives that appear in the book. "I'm probably a walking depressed person and I don't know it," she says, joking about the emotional intensity of the project. IN one particularly difficult interview, "I talked to the woman for an hour and she never said anything. She was more interested in small talk and when we wanted our brandy. She just couldn't talk about what had happened to her."

Crane does talk about what happened to these women, and you can hear her stories Nov 28 at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 2692 Madison Rd., Norwood. "It's critical to get this story out because [these] people are dying," Crane says. "The stories are really about survival and hope-they've survived, they're here to talk about it."

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