When the War Is Over ...
By Agathe von Kampen
Published America, Baltimore, Maryland, 2008, 271 pages, softcover.
In the Dedication, the author, Agathe von Kampen, writes: "This book is dedicated to my daughters and grandchildren who had no choice but to take part in my life's journey with me and, in spite of, or because of their lives, turned out to be understanding citizens and loving human beings. They gave me a reason to live when many times I wanted to give up. I love you."
With no point of reference for a life of "normalcy," seeking acceptance and security in a county not accommodating to immigrants, the author relied only on survival instincts, leading to her years of co-dependency, self-doubt, and utter despondency. She found herself seeking refuges in controlling religious factions and abusive relationships. This life struggle reminds her constantly of her experience in World War II where she spent her first six years on the front lines in Russia and as a refugee in Hitler's Germany. Her lullabies were the sounds of gunfire and exploding bombs. Her arrival at Ellis Island was promised to be the beginning of freedom, instead, it was only the continuation of abuse and control - only it was psychological warfare.
In an article from the Wheeler County News, C. Humphreys writes: "What is the book, When the War is Over about? It is an incredible journey of Aggie's life, including horrific times she spent as a small child in World War II. She was born to a family who was Dutch-German, and they live in Ukraine, Russia where they were part of the German "society" prior to the Bolschevik Revolution. Although they were in a part of Russia, they also spoke German. Here is one little excerpt written from Aggie's early childhood - "I listened to my parents talk during the night when I was supposed to be sleeping. 'If we can just manage to stay here until the Germans come, we will be safe.' Papa said. I also heard how some of the Germans from other villages tried to hide with friends and relatives in our town. When they were found, Russian soldiers tortured them to death. I had forgotten how to smile, but no one noticed, smiles were a thing of the past."
"Besides the war experiences, Aggie's family life led her to a lot of difficult times as well. When she came to America, she was married to a young man who didn't speak German and she didn't speak English. She was barely 16 at the time of her marriage and while the minister implored her mother not to allow - or as the case was - make Aggie marry this young man due to his temper, the mom wanted them to fit in and felt this was the right thing to do. Aggie's life, with all she went through, is a fascinating read...this review couldn't put it down! "
About the Author:
Born in Ukraine under Stalin's rule, resettled in Hitler's Germany, I immigrated to the USA on a "D.P." (displaced persons) visa as a teenager. Finding my own independence in a free country when I had only experienced submission to controlling circumstance proved to be a life long journey.
Review by Carol Humphreys