© 2010

Surviving Hitler’s War

Family Life in Germany, 1939–48


Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Hester Vaizey
    Pages 1-19
  3. Hester Vaizey
    Pages 20-35
  4. Hester Vaizey
    Pages 36-61
  5. Hester Vaizey
    Pages 62-92
  6. Hester Vaizey
    Pages 93-122
  7. Hester Vaizey
    Pages 123-149
  8. Hester Vaizey
    Pages 150-155
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 156-252

About this book


Telling the stories of mothers, fathers and children in their own words, Vaizey recreates the experience of family life in Nazi Germany. From last letters of doomed soldiers at Stalingrad to diaries kept by women trying to keep their families alive in cities under attack, the book vividly describes family life under the most extreme conditions.


Adolf Hitler Familie Germany National Socialism women

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Alfred Toepfer StiftungHamburgGermany

About the authors

HESTER VAIZEY is a postdoctoral researcher with a Hanseatic Scholarship courtesy of the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung in Hamburg. Prior to this she was a member of Sidney Sussex College at Cambridge University, where she studied for her doctorate. In 2009 the manuscript of Surviving Hitler's War won the prestigious Fraenkel Prize.

Bibliographic information


"Hester Vaizey investigates a side of the story that has been relatively neglected: the strength and durability of many German marriages under the severest of pressures...She is right to stress the debilitating effects of shortages, bombing and making do, leaving most women utterly exhausted. She uses a rich seam of diaries and letters between spouses to demonstrate both this and the longing on both sides in a marriage for "reunion" and a return to normality. The letters in particular are a most illuminating source...This is an engrossing study of real human beings, including children who sometimes reacted negatively when a father who had become a stranger returned from war or captivity and reclaimed his wife's affections...shows the fundamental importance of marital and family bonds to couples and children at a time when personal privacy was routinely violated and families torn apart.' Jill Stephenson, Times Higher Education Supplement

''[Vaizey] ... brings a welcome breath of objectivity to a subject that has long been dominated by ideologically driven theorising. Her case is helped by her evident ease as a writer. Throughout the book she weaves context, analysis and first-hand testimony with considerable skill, producing a text which flows as well as it informs.'

Roger Moorhouse, History Today

" intriguing " - The Scotsman

' provides a much-needed emphasis on ordinary human beings and on their struggle to sustain loving relationships amid unimaginable horror.' - Journal of Contemporary History