Someone Named Eva by Joan M Wolf

I decided to read and review this book since yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Although some of the events are real, this book is pure fiction.  I love that it focused on Czechoslovakian people, as my ancestors were smuggled out on cow-boats to America to escape Hitler and his Nazis.  After reading this, it made me want to do some digging and figure out who they were!

Title: Someone Named Eva

Author: Joan M. Wolf

Summary (by Goodreads):

On the night Nazi soldiers come to her home in Czechoslovakia, Milada’s grandmother says, “Remember, Milada. Remember who you are. Always.” Milada promises, but she doesnt understand her grandmothers words. After all, she is Milada, who lives with her mama and papa, her brother and sister, and her beloved Babichka. Milada, eleven years old, the fastest runner in school. How could she ever forget? Then the Nazis take Milada away from her family and send her to a Lebensborn center in Poland. There, she is told she fits the Aryan ideal: her blond hair and blue eyes are the right color; her head and nose, the right size. She is given a new name, Eva, and trained to become the perfect German citizen, to be the hope of Germanys future-and to forget she was ever a Czech girl named Milada. Inspired by real events, this fascinating novel sheds light on a little-known aspect of the Nazi agenda and movingly portrays a young girls struggle to hold on to her identity and her hope in the face of a regime intent on destroying both.

My take:

First off I want to give you a link to a story that made me get emotional the other day.   It’s a story that was posted on the Huffington Post’s site titled “Remember the Innocents”.  The story is a little lengthy, but it is worth reading!!  So when you have a few moments, please please read!

Someone Named Eva starts with Milada’s 11th birthday.  Sugar rations were saved and pooled to make a cake for the occasion and her best friend along with a few other girls come over to celebrate.  Almost a month later, Milada wakes up to hear Nazis pounding on her door and on the doors of her neighbors.  Although they are not Jewish, they are rounded up with women and children in one group and men sent in another direction.

While grouped with the women and children, the Nazis take special attention of Milada and a few other children.  Noticeably, they all have blonde hair and blue eyes.  Doctors take out rulers and measure their foreheads, their noses, their faces, etc.  They have color charts of blonde hair and rulers with plastic blue eyes to compare to her and the other kids as well.  Milada is deemed “perfect” and is removed from her mother and sent with other girls to a “school” where they learn to speak German, the history of Germany, how superior the Aryan race is from other races, and above all that who they were before no longer matters.  Milada is given the new name Eva and told to never speak her native language again.

As Milada spends months and months of her life in the Lebensborn program, she soon forgets her Czech language along with her real name.  She has trouble remembering her life before and even the faces of her mother, father, and grandmother are seemingly gone.  After being deemed “acceptable”, she soon is adopted into a prominent German family in Berlin.  Her new father, Herr Werner, is an important member of the Nazi regime and so Milada/Eva’s life continues down the German path.

This book is written in under 200 pages and geared more for a child-like audience, so horrific details or dark moments are kept more upbeat.  The books stays simple and uncomplicated without torrents of emotions.  I wonder if there is an adult book on the subject as I would be interested in reading it.  If you know of one, please comment below and let me know!!

I had not run across a book about the Lebensborn project before, adult or young adult, and it made me want to “google” the topic.  I soon found that it was essentially Hitler’s way of trying to create a master race.  The  “Aryan” race was considered by him to be perfect with blonde hair and blue eyes.  The Lebensborn project also created a “welfare/medical insurance” of sorts for women and children who were deemed perfect or near perfect.  Meaning they were taken care of and fed the best to ensure a healthy and strong master race.  German soldiers were encouraged to multiply by breeding with these women to create more perfect children.  You get the idea…

There are conflicting ideas about the project.  Many claim there is not enough evidence to support that the Lebensborn project was even real.  Those who do believe the Lebensborn project is real, claim that some upwards of 10,000 children were kidnapped from their homes (like our Milada) and were brainwashed and adopted by German families.  Many were taken so young that they either did not remember where they were from or many simply could not be reunited with their true families because they had died during the war or in labor camps.  One article I found interested was one that regarded children of the program trying to find their German soldier fathers: “Nazi Program to Breed Master Race”.


PS – I love that I give out blogging tips about creating a “heartbeat” and sticking to it and my post goes up 4 1/2 hours late….hahaha!  Sorry kids!

5 responses to “Someone Named Eva by Joan M Wolf

  1. Thanks for this review–sounds like an interesting addition to the canon, and I would love to read it. As more and more documents are being opened up, there is actually quite a bit of evidence that the Lebensborn programs were very real. We’re not sure what scale they took place upon, but–like so many parts of the Holocaust–are all to frighteningly intentional. Thanks for sharing the personal part of your story too!

    • I wanted to point out that although my review leaned very heavy on the side of it being truth, there are some doubts lingering with a few people. So that’s why I threw that comment in there. My mom has a picture of my great, great, greats in my parents house…I’ll have to get her to get me a scanned copy to post up!

  2. I hadn’t ever heard of the Lebensborn project… this sounds like an interesting and different take on the Holocaust book for kids. (They made us read A TON of those growing up, I’d certainly have appreciated a different sort of plot.)

    If you are interested in the history of eugenics, Eugenic Nation by Alexandra Minna Stern is a great look about the eugenics movement in the United States during the 20th century. It’s not the Nazis or the Holocaust, but you might like it if you want to know more from the American side of things.

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