Imagine if the world you grew up in ceased to exist. In her own words, Helga Meyer tells of the disintegration of her hometown in Tilsit, East Prussia. From an idyllic childhood to persecutions for her curious, new faith, to the challenge of saluting Nazi troops while quietly befriending Jews, and suffering wounds in one of many, daily bombing raids, Helga reveals intimate details about coming of age in a world that is quickly falling apart.
Too soon, Helga’s teenaged friends, brothers and cousin are facing death in the bitter fields of France and Russia. Amidst fellow refugees, Helga finds her natural optimism challenged by increasing and very personal heartbreak. Alone in a foreign land, Helga struggles to find refuge and braver still, a chance at romance. Led by a prophetic dream, she devises a means of escape in order to begin a new life in America.
Revealing previously unknown details of women’s experiences during World War II and the lives of early Latter-day Saints in East Prussia and East Germany, this engaging account promises to be a valuable addition to the growing collection of World War II memoirs. A richly layered story, weaving together both personal and historically significant events, Under a Leafless Tree is an unforgettable, true story that stays with the reader.
Great, Genuine Memoir
I loved reading of Helga’s life. It felt like she was telling her story while I was sitting in her house. It is an excellent, authentic memoir that just feels so real.