This month Hawthorne released a new edition of the book From the Heart’s Closet, a Young Girl’s World War II Story. It was the first book Hawthorne Publishing released after its earlier incarnation, Guild Press, was sold to Emmis Communications, under its new division Emmis Publishing, and a new publishing company evolved for Guild’s former owners.
From the Heart’s Closet, 2005, was and is by Anneliese (Lee) Krauter, an Indiana resident since the 1950s. But Lee’s story, told in the book, is much more dramatic than that of most other Hoosiers.
Her parents were immigrants from Germany who had come to America to make a new life and were happily settled in New York. They had two American-born children, Lee and Freddy, when World War II came. They were pursuing the American dream and were also involved in the German-American community in the city. In spite of their good will and positive actions the family, particularly Lee’s father Otto Wiegand, drew attention from the FBI.
The father was unknowingly and unjustly accused of harboring a spy as a renter in his home and the family was interned in a family camp in Crystal City, Texas, along with other German-American families and Japanese-American families, who were in another part of the camp.
Lee Avail her brother, their mother and their father, were repatriated to Germany in February, 1944. Bombs were falling, but they survived those and the midnight flight out of what would be the Russian-occupied section of Germany into Allied territory.
Lee married an American soldier during the occupation in Germany and the entire family returned one by one to America to live out their lives.
This story was told as the first book from the new Hawthorne Publishing and over the years sold out, as Lee herself became a speaker on her experience as a child, lecturing on the harrowing years of World War II for German families in America. “Much is known about the Japanese internment during the war, but little about us Germans,” she says.
Lee Krauter has spoken on the German-American experience during the war at the Indiana Historical Society, Marian University, over 30 Indianapolis and Indiana and Florida venues and especially at a reunion of former internees at Crystal City. She traveled around the country with a speaking tour featuring this specialized history. In February of this year, Lee joined other “children,” (now in their 80s) who traveled on the ship that was sent back to Germany in February 1944. The Gripsholm, called the “Mercy Ship” had been a luxury liner, but what it was doing at this point in the war was repatriating German families to Europe and exchanging them for stranded Americans and returning them back home.
This gripping and well written memoir helped open a closed door on a history not well known, which occurred during challenging days in America during the conflict which sent the “Greatest Generation” abroad to fight and die.
Lee’s book is now available as both a new edition of the softbound book but also as an e-book.
This new edition of From the Heart’s Closet is just now available as an e-book from Amazon! Order print book soon on the Hawthorne site! Softbound $24.95.