When the War is Over ...

Book review by Carol Humphreys

Kampmen, Agathe von. When the War is Over... Published in America, Baltimore, Maryland, 2008.

"When the War is Over" author Agathe "Aggie" Newberg(left), at her book signing at Little Pine Cafe, April 2nd. Patty Erby (right) dropped by to get her book signed by Aggie. (Photo provided by Carol Humphreys)

Wheeler County's Newest Published Author!

Submitted by Carol Humphreys

Agathe "Aggie" Newberg, from Mitchell, who writes under her maiden name Agathe von Kampen, has the distinction of being not only a newly published author in our county, but an author that the publisher didn’t EDIT! The publisher said he wouldn’t cross out anything or tear out any part of her manuscript, and said it should be published just as she had written it! This is a very high honor for any author!

What is the book, “When the War is Over” about? It is an incredible journey of Aggie’s life, including the horrific times she spent as a small child in World War II. She was born to a family who was Dutch-German, and they lived in Ukraine, Russia where they were part of German “society” prior to the Bolshevik Revolution. Although they were in a part of Russia, they also spoke German.

During a particularly difficult time emotionally, her pastor’s wife got her to talking about her life’s story. She, among many others, felt Aggie should write a book. At the time, Aggie felt that with her limited education and lack of writing experience, this would not be something worth doing. However, the pastor’s wife got her to tell her life story to others who were depressed, which started her on a 5 year experience where she traveled to various places to tell her story many times.

She obtained a job in one of the old Kodak kiosks where people would go to get their films developed. Her boss wanted to make sure she could work in a place of “severe boredom” which she felt was just the place to actually put this story to paper, and this is where she write. It took her nine months to complete her manuscript, writing on a yellow “legal” pad while no customers were there. Twenty-two years later, her niece read the manuscript and asked Aggie if she might try to get it published. Aggie agreed, but didn’t give it much thought afterward. However, just three weeks later, she was informed that a publisher had been found and a contract was being drawn up- and the rest is history!

It only take meeting aggie to know that despite her limited education, she’s a highly intelligent woman. Her limited education came from schools being bombed out, and she attended 38 different schools in just 3 years, but her life experiences and being very well-read allowed her to rise far beyond her education, and in fact, this reviewer had thought that she had been to grad school before reading the book and talking to her.

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 saved.’ Papa said. I also heard how some of the Germans from other villages tried to ide 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. This man had severe psychological problems, but we should leave the rest of the story for the reader to find out.

Aggies’s life with all she went through if a fascinating read… this reviewer couldn’t put it down!

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