Against the backdrop of World War II tragedy and devastation in Latvia, Poland and Germany and three decades of European history, this true narrative provides a window into the of wartime upheaval through the lives of Rolf Dutzmann and Lilo Wassull—two people fatefully positioned “on the other side.” Written by Marina Dutzmann Kirsch, the daughter of the protagonists, the book includes a foreword by veteran author and Professor Emeritus of International Relations at Boston University, Dr. Angelo Codevilla, who personally experienced the postwar years in Italy.
In December of 1939, swept along on a tide of dire necessity and circumstance due to the imminent Soviet takeover of his homeland, Rolf, a young Latvian aeronautical engineering student, flees with his family to Germany, a country fully under Hitler’s thrall and already engaged in a brutal war. While the account chronicles Rolf’s pursuit of his technical dream against daunting wartime odds, it is first and foremost a poignant and enduring love story that plays out against a panorama of worldwide chaos and destruction.
It is also a story of the seen and unseen forces that coalesce to keep Rolf and Lilo alive after they meet in 1940 Berlin, leading them through a chain of cataclysmic events including Rolf’s draft into the Luftwaffe and his father’s assignment as chief inspector of V-2 rocket production; the bombing of Berlin; the destruction of their homes; their numerous desperate, cross-country escapes from the bombing, the advancing Soviet troops from the east, and other Allied forces from the west; the POW camp hardships; and the deprivation of the postwar years.
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