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

Anschluss and After

Military WWII > Hitler & the Third Reich Women of History

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.

WW2 is my favorite subject to learn about. So I really enjoyed this book. If you like WW2 themed books then this book is for you.

NetGalley, Kate Alexander

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book was such a fascinating and informative read! Various women share their experince of the Nazi invasion into Austria when they were children. I found this to be an especially emotional read since my great grandfather was born in Graz, Austria. He immigrated to America a little before WWI, but his daughter, my grandmother, was born around the time that these women were and would have been right there (one woman's experience shared actually was in Graz!) With my grandmother's Jewish heritage though, her experience likely would have been more tragic. The women who share their experiences did not have Jewish heritage, but were still heavily affected by these events. They were forced to join the children Nazi groups, but showed resistance to this ideology they did not believe in, in meaningful ways as they grew older. In addition to the experiences shared, a lot of background information is shared about what was occurring generally, starting with the anschluss to the end of the war and Russian occupation. Despite having studied the period previously, I was unaware of the devastation that came with Russian occupation and how that time was viewed as worse than when the Nazis were in charge. The events were horrific, animalistic, and terribly tragic. Overall, this is such a moving and engaging book. Thank you to the authors for sharing their experiences of heartache and tragedy during their youth to help enlighten more recent generations on the experiences that were had at the time.

NetGalley, Kate Z

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

We all know of the atrocities that occurred during WWII, this book tells of the determination and gumption of three young girls in Austria. The three women recall their poignant stories and near escapes in this truly inspiring book. I took a while to read this because the subject matter is heavy at times. I would recommend to anyone who loves history or kick ass empowering stories.

NetGalley, Jessa Leigh

As featured in

The Armourer October 2021

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was well researched and very interesting. I was completely invested in the lives of these women.
This book tells Herti Bryans story and those of Milly Keller and Hilde Schubert who describe their experiences during the war, Incredible first hand accounts of their thoughts, feels and a reflection on their courage and bravery.

NetGalley, Jenn Webley

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I loved that the focus of this was on the female perspective of wartime life and resistance in occupied Austria. It’s so great when I get to read a war book focus on female activism during the war. It provided a variety of perspectives of dissent during the war. Written from the memoirs of people who lived through WWII in Austria. This book gives a painful yet ultimately hopeful insight into Austria during WWII and the atrocities that they lived through , living through German occupation and then to suffer the things the Russians put them through, it’s a hard read, but a necessary one. I wholeheartedly recommend this book, for education, for remembering and to gain more insight into how much women did in the war, so hidden for so long.

NetGalley, Tara Keating

Radio: 5 out of 5 stars

I greatly enjoyed the book, it was well researched and interesting. I found myself almost invested in finding out what had happened with the women featured in the book.

NetGalley, Claire Smith

This is the harrowing and true story of Herti Bryan, of growing up during Hitler’s regime. Her views and experiences from a young child on into her teen years, how she grew to fight back and resist. This is unlike other stories I have read and parts of it are so horrifying and heartbreaking, it was hard to read. For Herti to make it through to the other side and be able to stand strong and live a vibrant life shows such strength. Thank you to Herti and the other women in this book, Milly Keller and Hilde Schubert for sharing their stories, we need more stories like this. May we never forget.

NetGalley, Allyson Crawley

The authors present a fascinating look at the resistance movement in Austria during the years of Nazi occupation.

Books Monthly

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

We have been bombarded with stories of people suffering atrocities set upon them by Hitlers Regime. However, this book is nothing like what has been written down before. The perspective from a childs standpoint as she grew into her teenage years and the suffering that she endured in her home country of Austria that Hitler claimed was his as well. He still allowed his men to kill the Austrian citizens and displace them from there homes.

Two other girls also share their stories, Milly Keller and Hilde Schubert. The things they survived supposedly under the saviors of the Russians is disgusting and almost will cause you to stop reading. I had tears trail down my face.

I’m so glad I read this book because my grandmother was of Austrian descent, but always said she was from Hungary. While reading I seen the name “Krause “ come up and realized that those names were relevant to my family tree! It was destined for me to get this book! Now I understand why my grandmother wouldn’t talk of her life here. She was 21 when she came to the United States and I wished I had more time with her before she passed.

Thank you for telling your stories because we need them told so that these same things are never forgotten and they do not happen again to our future generations! That they REMEMBER!

NetGalley, Vicky Siegle

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 Girls in 2017, Sex Under the Swastika will be Tim’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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