“The German Girl” by Armando Lucas Correa is a fictionalized account of a German Jewish family who has purchased their freedom from the Nazis. Jewish families in 1939 Germany were subject to degradation, intimidation, and fear of being jailed. They were ostracized by neighbors and friends alike. Their homes and property were seized by the Nazis and they were left with nothing but despair. The German girl is actually a Jewish child of twelve whose coloring looks Aryan and who is therefore despised by both Jews and non-Jews. In their attempt to flee the coming hell which is Germany, they book passage on the St. Louis. This is an ocean liner owned by the Hamburg-Amerika Linie. They and their fellow seven hundred passengers set sail for Cuba, the only country willing to accept them as immigrants. During the two week voyage, the Cuban president reverses the decision and most of the passengers are forced to return to Europe. A very few immigrants were allowed to disembark in Cuba with the expectation that they would be able to enter the United States eventually.
The German girl and her mother are two of those who were allowed to enter the country. Hannah Rosenthal is the girl. Her life and that of Anna Rosen, her niece are entwined even though they don’t know it. This book tells the story of each of them.
This book is very well worth reading. I was so disappointed while reading this book, finding that Anti-Semitism was so prevalent at this time and that sanctuary was denied those people searching for a safe place to live. Not only does this book tell that story, but it also touches on the Cuban revolution and the changes that took place in that country.