While ...


Margaret Leis Hanna (Peg) & Brunhilde Maurer Barron came of age in one of the most tumultous times in history. These are their stories.

While Bruni/Hilde and Peg discussed their growing-up years, they agreed their vastly different experiences would make an interesting story. Years later, Bruni/Hilde wrote one hundred pages of hand-written notes about her life in Germany and America. Peg wrote about her life lived entirely in America. Their voices appear in tandem, sharing extreme contrasts and striking similarities.

"You were born in a hospital?" Hilde asks as she lays down her black bread and cheese sandwich.

Looking up from my salad, I nod. "Yes, I thought everyone by the 1940's was born in a hospital."

"Hell, no," Hilde stares at me. "I was born at home on the couch delivered by a midwife."

Thus began the noon time discussions of an American housewife and a German cleaning lady about their contrasting lives during and after WWII.

(Peg) My mother taught me that an important word in any language is WHILE. "While I wash dishes, Peggy, you dry. While one thing is happening, so is another. While someone is in darkness, someone is in daylight. While one person dies, another is born."

With this word WHILE we started this book. While a war was raging between the United States and Germany, and WWII began, two little girls were growing up in opposing countries and living in its aftermath.

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent and thoughtful spin of a memoir, recommended

This review is from WHILE ... Born During WWll
Our lives often prove similar, yet so different. "While ... Born WWII One Era Two Lives" is a dual memoir of Margaret Leis Hanna and Brunhilde Maurer Barron as they each tell their own stories. Hanna spent her entire life in America, and found a unique path in her life, as Barron was born in Nazi Germany and later immigrated to America. They present both their lives to show while we can be so different, we can still find friendship in what unites us. "While ... is an excellent and thoughtful spin of a memoir, recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars I've learned so much about my cousin...

Amazon Review by Bill Kraus
This book was written by my cousin, Peggy Hanna. Peggy and I didn't really know each other well as children. Through reading her book, I have learned so much about my cousin, her family, my family, and conditions in Germany during the war. I was intrigued that Peggy worked at Chatauqua as my wife has wanted to visit there. Our daughter went to Grove City College in PA so I was interested in the chapter Peggy wrote about her life as a student at GCC. I have laughed at the family stories (Bill Hanna doesn't still think that those crutches were a ruse does he?!!) I have been amazed by Peggy's honesty and insights. I have been affected so powerfully by the contrast between Peggy's life here in the USA and Hilda's in Germany. I loved your book, Cousin. Well done!
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book. Loved it!

Amazon Review by Jo Gorringe
I loved this book. Peg's portion told what it was like to live in a time just before I was born and the good and bad of those times (rationing, air raid drills, and victory gardens for fresh food). Hilde's part was harder to read, imaging all of the privations of living through a war in your own country and under a very oppressive regime.
5.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this book.

Amazon Review by Betty Bleen
I really enjoyed this book. The first chapter really drew me in. Peg had a lovely life compared to Hilde whose life was a turbulent mixture of violence and deceit. It is interesting how their individual stories were written: while one was going through this the other was going through that. I highly recommend this book, it is a good read.
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed every word.

Amazon Review by Frances Bartram
WHILE is a reminder that all of us come with baggage. War, a dysfunctional family, divorce, violence greatly add to the load. Loving parents and grandparents, a belief in the future lighten it considerably. They help us make the right choices. The book made me take stock of what I had at the beginning and while reading it and learning. I enjoyed every word.
5.0 out of 5 stars Finding Common Ground

Amazon Review by Linda Lee Greene
Although I was born a couple of years after the two women whose lives are contrasted in this interesting book, I related to it because like author Margaret Leis Hanna, I grew up, and still live, in Columbus, Ohio. I have an abiding interest in World War II, as well. Author Hanna’s picturesque recollections of her primarily comfortable life in Columbus (compared to that of author Brunhilde Maurer Barron’s in Germany), struck a chord with me. In a way, it was like going home again.

Author Barron, born in Germany at the outbreak of World War II, had an entirely different experience. Hers was a life of fear and deprivation attendant with living in a war-torn environment. Her difficulties continued when she relocated to the United States. In some ways, it was almost as if she was unable to leave the war behind her.

This book provides a fascinating look at an unlikely friendship that developed between two women who were poles apart in almost every way, but who found common ground in sharing, and writing about, their experiences. The insight into Barron’s life in Germany during the war is an important lesson in history about which all American’s need to know. I highly recommend this book.

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