Christoph Fischer is one of the most talented and gifted writers I have come across. Many of his books could almost certainly pass for non-fiction with their realistic portrayal of characters, well researched plots and more so, the way he tells the story, keeping you thoroughly engrossed from cover to cover. Having just finished Ludwika: A Polish Woman’s Struggle to Survive in Nazi Germany, I was truly moved; left with a lump in my throat and a sadness for a time in history that many of us will never truly understand.
Ludwika Gierz was a real person, and whilst parts of the story are fictionalised, the essence of this Polish woman’s story through world war two in the midst of Nazi Germany is very real. Where racism was rife, and Hitler’s Mein Kampf dictated the treatment of many nations outside of German, the author portrays the strength of this one woman and her story of survival.
Given limited choice but to follow a German soldier away from her hometown in Poland, in order to protect her family and only child, Ludwika is shipped to Germany, and considered an outcast and inferior from the very start. Whilst Ludwika was not a Jew, and thankfully did not suffer the consequences that befell on the Jewish community at that time, she still was not considered an equal, being of Polish decent.
Her natural charm, intellect and strength were her only keys to survival. The loss, death and destruction, which surround her is heartbreakingly real, and sympathetically portrayed by the author. The entire book is cleverly researched and Fischer’s story telling is heartfelt and passionate.
This story truly makes you reflect on what was lost during this time, how so many families were torn apart, never to be seen again. It reminds us of the power and danger that befalls a dictatorship, and how easily that can result the loss of millions and the destruction of civil society. Something we hope the world will learn from, this book will remain a timeless reminder of this fact.