Read Cruel World Online

Authors: Lynn H. Nicholas

Cruel World

BOOK: Cruel World
13.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Lynn H. Nicholas


Lynn H. Nicholas was born in New London, Connecticut, and educated in the United States, England, and Spain.
The Rape of Europa
, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, has been translated into eight languages. It inspired an international movement to locate and repatriate works of art and other property confiscated and stolen by individuals and governments before and during World War II. Ms. Nicholas was elected to the Légion d’Honneur by the government of France and was named an Amicus Poloniae by Poland. She has become widely known as a lecturer on the issues addressed in
The Rape of Europa
Cruel World
and has appeared as an expert witness in art-repatriation trials and before Congress

Also by

The Rape of Europa


Copyright © 2005 by Lynn Holman Nicholas

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Originally published in hardcover in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, in 2005.

Vintage and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

Owing to limitations of space, all acknowledgments for permission to reprint previously published material may be found preceding the index.

The Library of Congress has cataloged the Knopf edition as follows: Nicholas, Lynn H.
Cruel world : the children of Europe in the Nazi web / Lynn H. Nicholas.
p. cm.
1. World War, 1939–1945—Children—Europe. 2. Children and war—Europe—History—20th century. 3. Children—Europe—History—20th century. 4. Jewish children in the Holocaust. 5. National socialism and youth. I. Title.
D810.C4N53 2005
940.53’083’094—dc22     2004057745

eISBN: 978-0-307-79382-9

Author photograph © Jerry Bauer
Maps by George Colbert


For all “La Familia” past, present, and future

And especially
For William, Carter, and Philip

He said that while it was true that time heals bereavement it does so only at the cost of the slow extinction of those loved ones from the heart’s memory which is the sole place of their abode then or now. Faces fade, voices dim. Seize them back.… Speak with them. Call their names. Do this and do not let sorrow die for it is the sweetening of every gift

The Crossing


The events of World War II are among my earliest memories, as is the gray atmosphere of postwar Holland, where I lived in the late 1940s. When I was there I did not wonder much about the treeless parks, the odd assortment of nationalities in my school class, the origins of our German housekeeper (undoubtedly a “DP” of some sort), or the fact that ladies of distinguished lineage could be seen filling their large handbags with food at our cocktail parties. As part of the U.S. embassy, we too had to use little blue ration coupons to buy things on the economy, but we could get scarce items such as coffee from the American military depots in Bremerhaven, one of the most heavily bombed cities in Germany, where we occasionally went to pick up supplies. The condition of that place and of the people living among its ruins is a vision I have never forgotten. As life has gone on, I have become more curious about what I saw then and have been struck by the continuing damage done to families by rigid ideologues and by war. It is my aim to give a picture of the overall plans of the Nazis and to show how policies such as theirs simultaneously affect many different communities, which are linked in unexpected ways. The vastness of their operations makes it impossible to describe the fate of every country and group caught in the Nazi web; each story must, therefore, serve as an example of actions that went on in many places.

I am particularly indebted to my mentors in a number of countries, who interrupted their lives to arrange interviews, interpret, find documents and photographs, and otherwise help me. Without them, this book would not have been possible. Here at home, the greatest thanks must go to the late Richard Winslow, who, among many other things, ran one of the first UNRRA teams to go to Germany in 1945, and who spent many hours describing his wartime experiences. To this oral history he added his invaluable archive of documents and correspondence, including the battered briefcase he had used in those dark days. In Greece, Tony Lykiardopoulos opened doors all across that country’s complex political spectrum. Christine and Zeno Koenigs took especially good care of us in Holland, while Julia and Christopher Tugendhat did the same in London. In Moscow, thanks to Ekaterina Genieva, director of the All-Russia State
Library for Foreign Literature, I had the privilege of working with Lena Tchnesnokova, who not only acted as guide and interpreter, but taught me much about life in the former USSR and led me to interviewees I would not otherwise have found. There, also, Dr. Patricia Kennedy Grimsted was an invaluable adviser. These are only a few of those who helped. I have listed many others in the Bibliography; for any I may have omitted, my apologies: they are all appreciated.

Particular thanks are due to the late Sybil Milton for her encouragement and for sharing her encyclopedic knowledge; to the staffs of the United Nations Archive; the National Archives; the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress; the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, whose photo archivist, Maren Read, is a miracle worker; and the Georgetown University Library. In Europe, archivists at the Imperial War Museum, London; the Benaki Museum in Athens, the Nederlands Instituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie, Amsterdam; and Memorial, in Moscow, provided invaluable documentation. Paper is not all: the organizers of the sixtieth-anniversary reunion of the Kindertransport children kindly allowed me to attend their meeting, which made history come alive. At Knopf, I am once again tremendously grateful to my editor, Susan Ralston, as well as to designer Anthea Lingeman, Ken Schneider, and especially Ellen Feldman.

More than anything, I owe thanks to all our friends and extended family who have supported us so wonderfully in the last years, which have brought us terrible sadness but also the tremendous joy of a new generation. My gratitude to them, angels all, is beyond words. Special thanks to Daisy, Carter, Philip, Tammy, Sonia, Olivia, William, Robert, and Josephine, who have all tolerated my absences, and most of all to my husband, Robin, who has helped with every aspect of this book, and who has been so very patient.

Washington, D.C.

BOOK: Cruel World
13.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

How to Meet Boys by Clark, Catherine
Tomorrow Berlin by Oscar Coop-Phane
Martyr by A. R. Kahler
Mouse Noses on Toast by King, Daren
So Near So Far by C. Northcote Parkinson
A Week From Sunday by Dorothy Garlock