Feb 1, 2006
woman writes historic narrative that resonates with a modern-day theme
HYDE PARK -- A Hyde Park author's book exploring a facet of Nazi Germany touches on a contemporary theme.
Cynthia Crane's "Divided Lives: The Untold Stories of Jewish-Christian Women in Nazi Germany" focuses on the stories of Mischlinge, the children of a mixed marriage.
Specifically, they are children whose parents had both a Jewish and Christian background.
Many of these children were persecuted because of their Jewish background despite the fact they were not aware of it, Crane said.
Crane was editing her grandmother's memoir on World War II Germany when she came up with the idea of the book.
"I knew my father and his parents were from Germany, (but) I didn't know the whole story," Crane said.
She learned her father had been persecuted as a 10-year-old because of his Jewish background even though he had grown up as a Lutheran.
Crane, who is a professor of English at Raymond Walters College in Blue Ash, wanted to tell the story of women who had remained in Germany after the war.
"The secrecy fascinated me," Crane said. "The disconnect from their past was abrupt."
She traveled to Germany in 1994 and did research for about a year.
Crane interviewed more than 25 women. Ten were featured in her book which was published in 2000.
"It affirmed my belief in human nature and the strength to overcome," she said.
The book's readership has even included some of her students.
"(The book) ended up being bigger than just that time period," Crane said. "It connected to contemporary issues."
She said she has had seventh-graders come and share their own personal stories.
"They related on the level of being in a mixed (marriage) situation (themselves)," Crane said.
She said these students have also had to deal with racial and religious issues stemming from such a marriage.
John McNay, an associate professor of history at Raymond Walters College, said Crane is someone who reaches out beyond the academic environment.
"A lot of historians spend time talking with each other," McNay said. "She is a great example of a scholar who shares her expertise with the public."
Crane recently returned from London, where she spoke at an international conference. The conference focused on research which had been done on survivors of Nazi persecution.
"It was an honor to speak at the Imperial War Museum where the conference was held," Crane said. "It was interesting listening to other people's perspectives."
She said this included not only scholars, but psychologists, historians and filmmakers.
Crane is writing another book which will be "a mixture of personal and social commentary."
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