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Resistance Heroines in Nazi- and Russian-Occupied Austria (Hardback)

Anschluss and After

WWII Hitler & the Third Reich Women of History Military

By Herti Bryan, Tim Heath, Virginia Wells
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 40 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526787873
Published: 30th March 2021


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Austria's Anschluss - its 'annexation' - saw no gunfire, no blood-curdling screams of Stukas overhead or the rumble of heavy artillery when German troops marched in on 12 March 1938. It was no ‘Blitzkrieg’: on the contrary, some Austrians even welcomed the ‘invaders’ and the opportunity to unite the ethnic German peoples under the rule of Austria’s most infamous son, Adolf Hitler.

Austria’s wealth of natural and mineral resources were especially useful to support the Third Reich’s aggression in Europe. The Nazis were keen to exploit these assets and many Austrians benefited from increased employment. However, any initial euphoria was soon replaced by fear and anxiety as the brutal reality of the new regime became apparent.

Here is the remarkable story of Herti Bryan who, as a young child, witnessed the totalitarian nightmare of Hitler’s dream for world domination. Standing up for what she believed to be right, Herti acted courageously to frustrate the occupying Nazis.

In addition to Herti’s story, we learn of the experiences of Milly Keller and Hilde Schubert who shared contempt for the Nazi occupiers. The three girls vividly describe their different experiences during the war, although there is a striking similarity in the even greater terror they were subjected to under the Russian ‘liberators’.

In this volume the lives of Herti, Milly and Hilde come together to reveal an astonishing picture of life in occupied Austria. Drawing on unimaginable fortitude, these girls defied domination and fought fearlessly, risking their own lives, to carry out their moral obligation to humanity.

This is their story, in their own words and told for the first time.

I read and reviewed the book Hitler's Housewives: German Women on the Home Front by Tim Heath about this time last year. I found it and this book very interesting. Both gave a different outlook on the war. So many books about women in WWII focus on those that served the Allies with the SOE or at Bletchley Park as Wrens. I like the selected cover art. I give this book a 4 out of 5.

NetGalley, John Purvis

This book has an interesting focus on the heroines in occupied Austria. It was great to learn about female activism during World War 2 and how even young girls often chose to act as upstanders.

NetGalley, Laurel Parr

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I devoured this book in one day. Written from the memoirs of people who lived through WW2 in Austria it gives a painful yet ultimately hopeful insight into what life was like for millions of people. The atrocities that they lived through and how they rebuilt their lives after the war will stay with me for a long time. To live through German occupation then suffer what they did when the Red Army arrived to "liberate" them broke my heart. But what shone through most was the determination to help those who were trying them. To risk their lives to save others is truly inspiring. I have no idea how they moved on from this most awful of times to lead happy,normal post war lives. This book should be read by everyone.

NetGalley, Carlene Stephen

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One of my favorite genres, WW2 and the resistance, the brave people who saw what was happening was wrong and tried their hardest to protect those vulnerable to the growing anti-semitism rhetoric of mad men. I praise these men, women, and yes children for being more brave than I believe I could have been had I lived then. The best I can do to honor these heroes is to make sure their stories remain and future generations are taught what happened but shouldn’t have.

NetGalley, Jennifer DiCenzo

About Herti Bryan

HERTI BRYAN was born in Graz, Austria in 1929. Her happy childhood was marred by the rise of the Third Reich and the oppression of the Nazi occupation of her country and, later, by Russian forces. A committed ‘anglophile’, Herti used her initiative to thwart the Nazi war effort, eventually becoming an interpreter in the post-war resettlement of displaced persons programmes. She continued to work with Special Intelligence forces in Graz for several years before relocating to England. After a full and varied working life, Herti retired to Mullion in Cornwall.

About Tim Heath

Born in to a military family, Tim Heath’s interest in history led him to research the air war of the Second World War, focussing on the German Luftwaffe and writing extensively for The Armourer Magazine. During the course of his research he has worked closely with the German War Graves Commission at Kassel, Germany, and met with German families and veterans alike. Following the successful debut of Hitler’s GirlsThe Jungle War Against the Japanese will be Tim Heath’s latest contribution to retelling the heavily scrutinised Second World War from a fresh perspective.

About Virginia Wells

VIRGINIA WELLS grew up in Kent and Devon. She moved to Cornwall in 1971 and taught English to secondary school pupils for many years. Since retiring, Ginny has become involved in a number of community-based activities. Her friendship with Herti led to helping her write and edit her story.

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