Life of a German Teen during WW II. From Enduring Hardship to becoming a U.S. war bride – The Memoir “Otti Remembers”
What was it like for a teen to live in Germany during World War II?
Our first Christmas Book Gift Tip tells you all about it. The memoir “Otti Remember” lets you relive those turbulent times as Otti Baulig Ney remembers and allows you to be part of her life’s story.
“Otti Remembers: German WWII Teen Immigrates to America” – A Memoir
By Leslie Blaize
“Otti Remembers: German WWII Teen Immigrates to America,” offers a rare, first-hand account of those turbulent times. Otti Baulig Ney, 89, from Sutter Creek, Calif., reveals how she endured bombing raids, tuberculosis (TB) and extreme deprivation as a teen during the war years.
In the memoir, readers will discover how a chance meeting with Laurie Ney, an American soldier, led to her eventual marriage. After spending only ten days with Otti, Laurie focused on obtaining a visa for her.
After three long years, Otti immigrated to America and became his bride. The couple enjoyed 63 years of marriage until Laurie’s death in 2012.
Memoir Highlights Dramatic Wartime Memories
Otti explains that she wanted to write her family history so her descendants would know what it was like to live in Germany during Hitler’s regime and World War II.
Her daughter and co-author Denise Ney played a key role in writing the memoir. Denise grew up hearing her mother’s amazing stories of surviving the war as an everyday German citizen. The mother-daughter duo collaborated to write the memoir and preserve Otti’s valuable stories for future generations, history enthusiasts and scholars.
In the book, Otti describes how an air raid destroyed 85% of Koblenz, her hometown, and recounts her battle with tuberculosis and living among very ill patients who often died.
Because of her medical issues, Otti spent many years wondering if she would ever immigrate to America and join Laurie Ney. When she finally reached America, she faced additional challenges at Ellis Island.
Reunion at Ellis Island
Otti required a doctor’s approval to enter the U.S. At this point, she endured her own #MeToo experience. During the last stages of writing the book, that memory came back to her and was briefly mentioned. Finally, she exited Ellis Island and found her future husband waiting for her at the dock in New York. Both shed tears of joy.
“I felt like there was a new and good life ahead of me with a kind and loving husband,” Otti said. “After getting my citizenship, I was sure America would be my permanent home. I know how lucky I am to be part of this great country.”
Memoir Highlights Remarkable People
Otti Remembers shares anecdotes of key figures in the author’s life. They include:
– Great-Aunt Greda, the only relative with shelter, who fed 20 family members, read palms to supplement income and took eggs and vegetables in trade
– Beloved Shopkeeper Mrs. Moitz who knew all the gossip and met a violent end
– Sigmund, a fellow TB patient, artist, and pianist, who provided cutting-edge medicine and food for Otti and her Polish sanitorium roommate
Throughout the book, Otti Ney shares remembrances of the courageous and strong women in her life. They taught her how to survive and flourish, despite many life-threatening obstacles.
Fostering German Ties
After moving to the United States, Otti kept up with her German relatives. She has two sisters and two close cousins who live in Germany. They keep in touch on a regular basis. Otti also enjoys sharing her German heritage. She is a member of Jackson Stammtisch German Club, California. In the regular monthly meetings, she exchanges ideas, experiences and speaks German with the other 35 members. Just in August, she presented to members of the Lodi California Chapter of the American Historical Society of Germans From Russia and captivated the audience with stories from her life.
Otti appreciates her life’s many blessings. She wrote, “I consider helping others as a means of ‘payback’ for all the help I received during my lifetime.”
Many German-American citizens have already enjoyed reading “Otti Remembers.”
For more information about “Otti Remembers,” see, www.ottiremembers.com. It features a compelling video where Otti shares memories of the war years and meeting Laurie Ney, her future husband.
You can purchase the Memoir “Otti Remembers” here
Images: ©Otti Baulig Ney (1. Denise Ney and Otti Baulig Ney, co-authors of “Otti Remembers.”; 2. Otti Baulig Ney at age 17; 3. Pictured are four generations of the Netts, from left: Maria Nett (Mother), Otti Baulig (author), Anna Maria Nett (Great Oma), and Gertrude Nett (Oma))