The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa
There are many hundreds of stories documenting World War II and the atrocities and injustices done to the Jews and minorities. The books that make me raise my head in interest are the ones who tell me something I didn’t know, the ones that bring to light the single incidents often lost or buried by history.
The German Girl is one of these. This is a story based on a truth. Hannah Rosenthal is twelve years old in 1939, living in Berlin at a time when it is becoming very, very dangerous to be a Jew. But Hannah doesn’t look the part. She looks like the perfect German Girl. Hannah and her best friend Leo are free and living the lives of twelve year old children when they start to really hear what’s being said by the adults around them. Their world is no longer safe and they must leave. But Leo and Hannah make a pact that no matter what, they will be together in the end.
One hope for their families is to leave aboard the German ship St. Louis offering Jews safe passage bound for Cuba. Hannah’s father is arrested, her often out of touch mother must buy their freedom with papers, visas, landing permits and permissions. Finally, the five of them, Hannah and her parents and Leo and his father board the ship, five among the 937 other refugees. The ship is luxurious, the kind of luxury that can help you forget what you left behind. But not completely, because Hannah's parents have arranged for a final solution if there is ever a question what will happen to them.
In New York in 2014 twelve year old Anna receives a birthday present from a family member she and her mother didn’t know existed. The package comes from Cuba and Anna and her mother travel to Havana to meet this family member and learn and hopefully heal their sorrowful hearts.
We are taken in alternating chapters from Germany at the beginning of the war to Cuba at the beginning of the revolution to the present, intertwining the stories of two twelve year old girls. We learn if there is nothing else, there is always hope.