Growing Up in World War II Germany

By: Anneliese Heider Tisdale

Published: November 7, 2012


CHRISTMAS TREES LIT THE SKY tells the story of Anneliese Heider Tisdale and her family.  Anneliese grew up in Munich, Germany during WWII and shares their struggles, triumphs, fears, hopes, and dreams as they go from a family who wanted nothing to a family who lived in fear of ever seeing each other again and to wondering if they would have to leave their home and everything they ever knew.  If you are looking for this to be a Christmas story, it is not, but the author does share stories of Christmas’s they celebrated as well as traditions and recipes from their family meals.

This is not a page-turning novel, but a general retelling of a life that many of us couldn’t begin to comprehend.  I love this time period and the simpleness of the lives they lived.  But, aside from the simpleness, they also lived through horrors dictated by Hitler.  This book doesn’t share the details of the Holocaust, because at the time, Anneliese didn’t know they that were happening.  She and her family were merely trying to survive themselves and praying that her brother on the front-lines in Russia would come home safe.

Since I am of German heritage, I found the chapters of their traditions and food to be quite interesting.  I am looking forward to making some of the recipes listed at the end of the chapters.  Anything from Spatzle to “Health” Cake and Black Currant Liquor recipes are found in the book.

So many books set in this time period focus on the Holocaust and I found this book to have a interesting take on how those in Germany were treated.  You can’t compare their horror to what went on in the Concentration Camps, but they did live through their own nightmares and didn’t necessarily agree with Hitler’s ideas.

After the end of WWII, Anneliese leaves her family behind to move to America as a War Bride.  She was ill-prepared for what she would find when she stepped off the plane in New York City and I found her experiences to be so interesting. For example when she came to America she did not even knowing how to make a phone call and she was told she needed to begin shaving her legs. These are things Americans took for granted but which made her stand out and feel like more of an outsider after her arrival. She has continued to live here ever since, becoming a citizen in 1950.  She went to college and was a teacher for many years and lives just 30 minutes from me.  She is currently working on her second book which is about her experiences adjusting to living in America and it is one I am looking forward to reading.  I would love to meet her and ask her more questions about her life in Germany!

During this time of abundance, reading CHRISTMAS TREES LIT THE SKY will make you appreciate the little things in life; home, traditions, food and being with those you love to share it with.

This was our book club choice this month and I think we will have a nice chat about the book, but I don’t think it will lead to a deep discussion like other books have.  I read this on my Kindle, but it is also available on paperback.

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