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Emilia: The Darkest Days in History of Nazi Germany Through a Woman's Eyes

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This story is dedicated to all the victims of sexual slavery in German concentration camps, who had to endure inhumane suffering under the Nazi regime. For many years after the atrocities had been committed, both sides – the abusers and the abused – still vehemently denied certain aspects of the Holocaust, and even the victims refused to admit the ugly truth about their in This story is dedicated to all the victims of sexual slavery in German concentration camps, who had to endure inhumane suffering under the Nazi regime. For many years after the atrocities had been committed, both sides – the abusers and the abused – still vehemently denied certain aspects of the Holocaust, and even the victims refused to admit the ugly truth about their incarceration, some out of fear, some out of shame, until several women decided to break an unofficial oath of silence, and brought their stories to life. This book is based on one of those stories. Emilia is a young Jewish woman, whose life slowly turns into a nightmare as she finds herself facing a dreadful choice: to secure her family’s very existence by offering herself to one of the men who had put her behind the walls with barbed wire, or perish together with the least fortunate ones. Only, the Krakow ghetto and her very first abuser pale in comparison to what is yet to come, as she’s being sent to a place that soon will turn into her own personal hell and that will scar her for life…


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This story is dedicated to all the victims of sexual slavery in German concentration camps, who had to endure inhumane suffering under the Nazi regime. For many years after the atrocities had been committed, both sides – the abusers and the abused – still vehemently denied certain aspects of the Holocaust, and even the victims refused to admit the ugly truth about their in This story is dedicated to all the victims of sexual slavery in German concentration camps, who had to endure inhumane suffering under the Nazi regime. For many years after the atrocities had been committed, both sides – the abusers and the abused – still vehemently denied certain aspects of the Holocaust, and even the victims refused to admit the ugly truth about their incarceration, some out of fear, some out of shame, until several women decided to break an unofficial oath of silence, and brought their stories to life. This book is based on one of those stories. Emilia is a young Jewish woman, whose life slowly turns into a nightmare as she finds herself facing a dreadful choice: to secure her family’s very existence by offering herself to one of the men who had put her behind the walls with barbed wire, or perish together with the least fortunate ones. Only, the Krakow ghetto and her very first abuser pale in comparison to what is yet to come, as she’s being sent to a place that soon will turn into her own personal hell and that will scar her for life…

30 review for Emilia: The Darkest Days in History of Nazi Germany Through a Woman's Eyes

  1. 5 out of 5

    Pauline

    Emilia by Ellie Midwood is a story that will stay with me. The atrocities of the holocaust and the courage of the women in the camp to survive at all costs was very moving. This was a very well written story and I will be reading more from this author. I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    What a beautifully vivid book this was, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Focusing on Jewish German civilians during World War Two was a clever perspective on the authors part and her knowledge as a historian and nazi expert is evident in the detail of her writing. Emilia is a beautiful and bright young German woman who also happens to be of Jewish heritage. Although fictional, the story is undoubtedly based upon actual events and of the many women who were abused by the nazis throughout wartime. The desc What a beautifully vivid book this was, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Focusing on Jewish German civilians during World War Two was a clever perspective on the authors part and her knowledge as a historian and nazi expert is evident in the detail of her writing. Emilia is a beautiful and bright young German woman who also happens to be of Jewish heritage. Although fictional, the story is undoubtedly based upon actual events and of the many women who were abused by the nazis throughout wartime. The descriptions of the camps, the abuse and the starvation are both graphic and moving and the author handles her subject sensitively throughout. I would imagine many readers would audibly gasp at some passages, as I did. A truly brilliant read and I look forward to reading more by this author.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Toni Osborne

    The darkest days in the history of Nazi Germany through a woman’s eyes Reading about the atrocities during WW11 is never an easy read. Of course Emilia story is severe and at times even horrific nevertheless it is compelling account of a life under the Nazi regime. This is a fiction where the author has poetic license and uses it quite well, focusing only on the Nazi atrocities. This powerful story takes us on a journey of lost innocence, hardening hearts and finding love as we follow a young girl The darkest days in the history of Nazi Germany through a woman’s eyes Reading about the atrocities during WW11 is never an easy read. Of course Emilia story is severe and at times even horrific nevertheless it is compelling account of a life under the Nazi regime. This is a fiction where the author has poetic license and uses it quite well, focusing only on the Nazi atrocities. This powerful story takes us on a journey of lost innocence, hardening hearts and finding love as we follow a young girl wishing for a normal life, only to be sent to a concentration camp, finally liberated at the end of the war and a few years later finding peace. Emilia tells the darkest tale honestly drawing us into her harrowing life, a life that countless victims were subject to. What a nightmare she tells, page after page of horror: rape, abuse, sadistic handlers at every corner. All the while this young woman was desperately trying to survive. The description of what was done on the population in the camps is very graphic and will undeniably touch the reader’s emotions. Of course this book is sad and hard but the story is so well-written without any fluff and long prose and is said with such frankness and raw emotions that I found it very hard to pause and stay away from this wonderful story of survival for too long. Excellent. I received this ARC for review from the Publisher Ellie Midwood via Netgalleys

  4. 5 out of 5

    Heidi Fischer

    "Emilia" is the story of a young German, Jewish woman's struggle for survival in WW2. Our protagonist endures a nightmare existence of rape, starvation and brutality but she is a fighter and her effort to stay alive, whatever the cost, is not in vain. Despite the horrific subject matter, "Emilia" is an engaging read. The author's voice is raw and gritty (no fluffy, purple prose here) and I found her frankness somehow endearing and relatable. The pace of the story is excellent (no need to skim or "Emilia" is the story of a young German, Jewish woman's struggle for survival in WW2. Our protagonist endures a nightmare existence of rape, starvation and brutality but she is a fighter and her effort to stay alive, whatever the cost, is not in vain. Despite the horrific subject matter, "Emilia" is an engaging read. The author's voice is raw and gritty (no fluffy, purple prose here) and I found her frankness somehow endearing and relatable. The pace of the story is excellent (no need to skim or skip any boring bits) as it transitions beautifully from one scene to the next. Ultimately, I felt that the book was about acceptance and moving on but that's just my interpretation. If you like fiction from this era and can cope with some rather disturbing images, you'll really get into this thought-provoking read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ellie Midwood

    Reviewed By Trudi LoPreto for Readers’ Favorite Emilia is a very moving and powerful book that will touch your emotions by hurting your heart, and making you angry. Emilia is a very strong-willed young woman whom we meet at the beginning days of the occupation of Poland. We meet Emilia’s family and read in horror as they are forced to leave their home and board the train that will take them to the concentration camp. Emmi is forced to witness killings, beatings, and people starving to death. She Reviewed By Trudi LoPreto for Readers’ Favorite Emilia is a very moving and powerful book that will touch your emotions by hurting your heart, and making you angry. Emilia is a very strong-willed young woman whom we meet at the beginning days of the occupation of Poland. We meet Emilia’s family and read in horror as they are forced to leave their home and board the train that will take them to the concentration camp. Emmi is forced to witness killings, beatings, and people starving to death. She survives because she is young and pretty and the Nazi captors take notice of her. She suffers their sexual attacks to stay alive and to get her family extra food. She is often beaten, forced to give her body, but because of it she receives the easier and preferred jobs, keeping her safe throughout the war. When the Russians and Americans finally arrive to liberate all of the concentration camp prisoners, Emmi moves on to living as a free woman. She takes with her all of her shame, pain and memories and has to learn how to survive in the new world of freedom. Emilia was a hard book to read because of all the sadness, but it was also uplifting to watch Emmi do what she had to do and come out of it at the end of the tunnel. I cried, I hurt for the inhumanities that took place, I cheered when something good happened. Ellie Midwood has written a story that needed to be told. Her writing is beyond excellent and I found myself immersed in the book. This is a book that must be read to understand what really happened in the concentration camps and the anguish that was endured. I highly recommend this book to all history buffs and anyone who enjoys a good book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    Emilia: The Darkest Days in History of Nazi Germany Through a Woman’s Eyes is written by Ellie Midwood. This is a historical fiction which deals with a very hard topic. The continued rape of women during the Nazi regime. This topic is rarely approached during the Holocaust and is even denied. Ellie Millwood brings it into the open in a very direct way. Her characterizations and plot are every strong. She allows you to feel the emotions Emilia goes through. Ellie shows that some people suffered b Emilia: The Darkest Days in History of Nazi Germany Through a Woman’s Eyes is written by Ellie Midwood. This is a historical fiction which deals with a very hard topic. The continued rape of women during the Nazi regime. This topic is rarely approached during the Holocaust and is even denied. Ellie Millwood brings it into the open in a very direct way. Her characterizations and plot are every strong. She allows you to feel the emotions Emilia goes through. Ellie shows that some people suffered blame and ridicule and came out on top.

  7. 5 out of 5

    M.R. Rutter

    This book is hard to read. There will be times you want to throw your kindle across the room. Not because it's a badly written story, the writing is AMAZING and passionate, but because of the story itself. It will break your heart. Emilia is a young, beautiful Jewish girl caught in the grinding gears of Nazi Germany. She is an innocent, who through no fault of her own is forced to make the choice that every woman fears- sell her body or lose her family and her life. Through the Warsaw Ghetto and c This book is hard to read. There will be times you want to throw your kindle across the room. Not because it's a badly written story, the writing is AMAZING and passionate, but because of the story itself. It will break your heart. Emilia is a young, beautiful Jewish girl caught in the grinding gears of Nazi Germany. She is an innocent, who through no fault of her own is forced to make the choice that every woman fears- sell her body or lose her family and her life. Through the Warsaw Ghetto and concentration camps, including the grand-daddy of them all Auschwitz, Emilia sells herself not only to survive, but also in an attempt to protect those she loves. But, sadly her sacrifice is rarely appreciated. After liberation, Emilia begins to rebuild her life. A life that helps her mend her broken spirit. Heal her heart. And finally find her way home. If it were up to me, I would recommend this book be read by everyone as curriculum in high school or college. Because this story NEEDED to be told. And we NEED to read it. These women need to be remembered.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Julie Powell

    A well-written story that delves into a hell created by Nazi Germany during WW11, where jewish women are forced into sexual slavery and torture only to be condemned by the abusers and onlookers. Although many still deny the evidence of those terrible years, I am thankful that authors such as these reveal the truth...and should never be forgotten no matter how much time passes. Why humans lose their humanity has been the subject of many studies, however, I can only say that people choose to be evil A well-written story that delves into a hell created by Nazi Germany during WW11, where jewish women are forced into sexual slavery and torture only to be condemned by the abusers and onlookers. Although many still deny the evidence of those terrible years, I am thankful that authors such as these reveal the truth...and should never be forgotten no matter how much time passes. Why humans lose their humanity has been the subject of many studies, however, I can only say that people choose to be evil in the same way they believe in a god...because they want to. The circumstances were promoted by the leadership but those who committed the atrocities gladly revelled into the role of demons. Emilia takes us on a journey, one that disturbs our very soul, yet there are wise lessons to be learned at the same time. Very well done.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bill Ward

    There is something almost perverse about saying I loved this book, given it is a story detailing the terrible suffering of a young Jewish girl and her family during the second world war. However, Emilia's spirit always shone through and that was enough to eclipse the dark pages of suffering she endured. I couldn't stop turning the pages and loved the ending. The author paints a realistic picture of life in a concentration camp and you will despair at the depravity of SS guards and even at times There is something almost perverse about saying I loved this book, given it is a story detailing the terrible suffering of a young Jewish girl and her family during the second world war. However, Emilia's spirit always shone through and that was enough to eclipse the dark pages of suffering she endured. I couldn't stop turning the pages and loved the ending. The author paints a realistic picture of life in a concentration camp and you will despair at the depravity of SS guards and even at times fellow inmates. Every page seemed all too believable and horrifying. The characters are wonderfully vivid. Probably not a book for the squeamish but at no time was the writing gratuitous. Although this is a work of fiction it is also a great way to learn about history. Strongly recommended!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kwen D Griffeth

    Emilia is the fourth book I have read of Ms. Midwood's and I continue to admire her ability to tell an ugly part of human history through the eyes of an innocent and relate it in a powerful and beautiful manner. As the ugliness of the concentration camps and the deportment orders surround her, and as even others incarcerated torment her, Emilia is able to find the strength to not only survive, but grow through the torture. Her losses are many, at all levels of human existence, physical, mental, Emilia is the fourth book I have read of Ms. Midwood's and I continue to admire her ability to tell an ugly part of human history through the eyes of an innocent and relate it in a powerful and beautiful manner. As the ugliness of the concentration camps and the deportment orders surround her, and as even others incarcerated torment her, Emilia is able to find the strength to not only survive, but grow through the torture. Her losses are many, at all levels of human existence, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, and yet she, in a quiet and unassuming manner becomes the victor. This is an honest and open book about the power of human endurance. Nicely done, Ellie.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Grant Leishman

    Anyone that regularly reads my reviews will know what a huge fan I am of the uber-talented Indie Author Ellie Midwood. When I heard she had a new book out, well, of course, I just had to grab it and enjoy it. That is exactly what I did with Emilia - enjoyed it! This is a bit of a departure for Midwood in some ways - yes, the book is still set in World War II and yes the lead character is still a strong, tough, and very feminine woman, but this time our heroine, Emilia, is on the wrong side of th Anyone that regularly reads my reviews will know what a huge fan I am of the uber-talented Indie Author Ellie Midwood. When I heard she had a new book out, well, of course, I just had to grab it and enjoy it. That is exactly what I did with Emilia - enjoyed it! This is a bit of a departure for Midwood in some ways - yes, the book is still set in World War II and yes the lead character is still a strong, tough, and very feminine woman, but this time our heroine, Emilia, is on the wrong side of the Nazi atrocities. A beautiful young Jewess, whose Father was too slow to see the evil in the Nazi philosophy, is caught between two impossible choices; surrender to the sexual demands of the Nazi soldiers or die. She chooses to submit to their vile needs and thus begins a succession of men who would use and abuse Emilie, but never break her. This is not always an easy book to read - it is stark, at times horrific, but as a personal record of life under the Nazi jackboot, it is very compelling. This isn't a history book, though, it is historical fiction and as such the author has poetic license. History will tell us the liberators were often as vile in their treatment of women as the captors had been, but in this book we focus only on the Nazi atrocities. As with all good stories, there is a strong moral to be had from Emilia and I guess that would be twofold: "If you haven't walked a mile in my shoes, don't dare to judge me." and "The first casualty of war is not necessarily, truth, but decency." One thing that resonated throughout the story, for me was the constant question Emilia kept asking herself; "Why me? Why us? (Jews). What did we ever do wrong?" Sadly, seventy years on, Jewish people are still asking that same question. Why us? What did we do wrong? I loved this book, as I've loved all of Midwood's books and eagerly anticipate her newest book, which I understand is set in occupied France. I, for one, can't wait. A wonderful author and fully deserving of her success.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kata Mlek

    It takes courage to read this book. And it must have taken even more determination to write it. Ellie Midwood dares to reach back to one of the darkest times in Polish history, and she does it with tremendous respect for the victims. It would be tempting to use their suffering to add impact to the book. Ellie doesn't do that. The book is overwhelming, but never crass. I think the author must be a very sensitive person to have balanced the emotions in the novel in such an excellent way and to avoi It takes courage to read this book. And it must have taken even more determination to write it. Ellie Midwood dares to reach back to one of the darkest times in Polish history, and she does it with tremendous respect for the victims. It would be tempting to use their suffering to add impact to the book. Ellie doesn't do that. The book is overwhelming, but never crass. I think the author must be a very sensitive person to have balanced the emotions in the novel in such an excellent way and to avoid unnecessary showiness. The author dives deep into the history of my country and even uses some Polish words to add flavor to the book--I appreciate this, since my language is not easy. Also, since I've walked the places Ellie depicts in her novel, I can tell you that her descriptions are very accurate (but without excessive details). I know Gdansk and the ghetto in Krakow so well. I've been to the concentration camp at Auschwitz, as getting to know the story of the genocide is an important part of our education. And I know the history of my poor country, including the Jews my family is befriended with, as well as the stories of our neighbors and relatives. In primary school, we, I mean the kids, discussed the war. My uncle was battered to death. My grandpa was gassed in Treblinka. My grandma hid in the basement with two babies. Almost every family in this country suffered a loss during World War II... And Ellie captured it all: the terror, the feeling of hopelessness, the eroding moral standards, but also the unbelievable will to survive. I know so many people who made it back from hell and decided to rebuild their lives. I'm very grateful to Ellie for telling our story, so that nobody forgets these crimes against humankind. We should all remember and beware in order not to let this happen again. Thank you, Ellie, for your courageous undertaking.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rafaële

    A touching and important book, “Emilia” relates the descent to hell of an attractive, young Jewish girl, as she’s stripped of her innocence, her dreams, and her dignity in German concentration camps. Emilia’s fall starts off in the Krakow ghetto when she trades her body for medicine in order to save her young brother’s life. But does she really have a choice? Her beauty is at the same time her curse and her salvation. As she can’t save most of her family in spite of her sacrifices, Emilia loses a A touching and important book, “Emilia” relates the descent to hell of an attractive, young Jewish girl, as she’s stripped of her innocence, her dreams, and her dignity in German concentration camps. Emilia’s fall starts off in the Krakow ghetto when she trades her body for medicine in order to save her young brother’s life. But does she really have a choice? Her beauty is at the same time her curse and her salvation. As she can’t save most of her family in spite of her sacrifices, Emilia loses any shred of dignity when she’s subject to rape and inhumane abuse at the hands of her guards and jealous inmates. Ellie Midwood’s talent seems to keep growing each time she writes a new story. In “Emilia,” the characters are deep and complex, the story entrancing, and the writing extremely strong. Emilia’s story is highly inspirational as she keeps her humanity in the midst of horror and still grows and learns from unexpected sources. She brushes death many times and still manages to rise stronger. The reader won’t want to put this book down as Ellie Midwood educates and captivates us at the same time. “Emilia” is a beautiful story of survival and personal growth. Highly recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    Highly recommend to fans of Historical Literature and Women's Fiction. I don't want to say anything about the plot, other than it's good, for fear of ruining other reader's enjoyment of the book. It is a heart-felt and harrowing story about the additional humiliation and trauma of young Jewish girls in concentration camps at the hands of SS Officers and guards. On top of which they suffered further attacks and disdain from their fellow prisoners. For me the overall message of the amazing power of Highly recommend to fans of Historical Literature and Women's Fiction. I don't want to say anything about the plot, other than it's good, for fear of ruining other reader's enjoyment of the book. It is a heart-felt and harrowing story about the additional humiliation and trauma of young Jewish girls in concentration camps at the hands of SS Officers and guards. On top of which they suffered further attacks and disdain from their fellow prisoners. For me the overall message of the amazing power of forgiveness and compassion is what gives the story added depth and raises it to an exceptional read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tabinda Mustershad

    Dark. Moving. Powerful. A tale of survival & forgiveness that vividly depicts the inhumane treatment of Jewish women in Nazi concentration camps. Received a free eBook through NetGalley.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    Forced out of their home in Danzig, Poland, Emilia’s family was to take nothing of value with them to the Krakov ghetto where sickness and desperation greeted them. Medicine is now needed as her brother has the flu but they have no money. Emilia secretly takes one of the families prized possessions to a SS officers and he provides to them the medicine that they need. More exchanges are made, the essentials for survival are exchanged for their family’s possessions but soon their possessions are e Forced out of their home in Danzig, Poland, Emilia’s family was to take nothing of value with them to the Krakov ghetto where sickness and desperation greeted them. Medicine is now needed as her brother has the flu but they have no money. Emilia secretly takes one of the families prized possessions to a SS officers and he provides to them the medicine that they need. More exchanges are made, the essentials for survival are exchanged for their family’s possessions but soon their possessions are exhausted. The family does not know what they do now. Emilia approaches the officer and informs him that they are out of jewels but they still need his help. Emilia can’t get out of her mind the individuals who don’t make it in the ghetto as the officer tells her to open her coat. Reluctantly, she slowly begins to undo her coat, as his eyes are elsewhere. He then instructs her to lift up her shirt. Emilia pauses as she thinks about her family’s future. Slowly, she lifts the bottom of her shirt and lets her bare skin show. Emilia has seen firsthand the destruction and ultimate death which occurs at the hands of the SS. They will stop at nothing to get what they want. She feels that what she doing is the only way to save her family and herself. The way she separated herself from the situation mentally was marvelous. I was angry and sicken by what was starting to develop but became more aggravated when the family was forced to move again and things became dreadful. The rape, the mind games, the harassment was an everyday occurrence. She learned that she had to walk or someone would walk over her, she had to have an ally or a group because she’d never make it alone, and she had to care or they’d take everything she had. Emilia was shaped by her experiences and they made her the adult she became later in life. I liked how the novel showed us her life after the war. 4.5 stars I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Ellie Midwood in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Santosh Rangapure

    *Emilia: The darkest days in history of Nazi Germany through woman's eye.* After reading Ann Frank - The diary of young girl I was more inclined towards Nazi regime and Holocaust stories and I came through this wonderful writing by Ellie Midwood which is Silver Medal Winner of the International Book Award contest Readers' Favorite in the Historical Fiction category (2017). Emilia's story is exceptionally painful, an awful & distressful experience. Emilia was such a simple, innocent and decent girl *Emilia: The darkest days in history of Nazi Germany through woman's eye.* After reading Ann Frank - The diary of young girl I was more inclined towards Nazi regime and Holocaust stories and I came through this wonderful writing by Ellie Midwood which is Silver Medal Winner of the International Book Award contest Readers' Favorite in the Historical Fiction category (2017). Emilia's story is exceptionally painful, an awful & distressful experience. Emilia was such a simple, innocent and decent girl (age 18-19) born in Germany, her only fault was she was jew. She had simple dreams like a normal woman but to her misfortune of being jew in Hitler's regime she had been forced to leave her beloved country along with her family first to Poland. Alarmed by the situation getting worst for jew community she insists her father to move to England, France as an immigrants but her father being proud German nationalist still feels that situation will get normalised in few days. After this the worst of her life starts and they got shifted to Krakow Ghetto which you can call nothing less than a hell. In front of her eyes her 3 brothers and father gets killed by Nazi SS guards. The concentration camp experience after Ghetto was a nightmare for Emilia where she loses every hope of life. She is being used very badly in every possible way by SS guards. The story is dedicated to all the victims of sexual slavery in German incarnation camps where they treated beautiful womans like Emilia inhumanly. They starved for food like anything in camps and its really very sad and horrible to read that they even eat grass, soil and wood out of hunger. The writer Ellie's writing style is such a splendid that she takes you on a ride with every detail of Emilia's traumatic and painful life that you actually feel pain of Holocaust. The positive side of the story is after going through such an horrifying and dreadful experiences Emilia never lost her hope for free life. She was such a brave girl and so optimistic about her future life and finally gets freed by Russian army. The post life after freedom was also not easy for her as she had no feelings, no sensation left after the deadly camp experience but still she goes ahead with life as show must go on and after all this is called life..... A must read for all my dear friends who like to read about Holocaust experiences and value our freedom in our beautiful motherland India..... Santosh Rangapure

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sherrill Wark

    This well-handled historical novel, *Emilia*, begins innocently enough with Emilia’s father patiently explaining to the family: “They are after the religious ones, and we […] go to the synagogue once a year for Yom Kippur, that’s how religious are we!” He then predicts the lie of the story: If we comply with what they tell us, we’ll be fine. As a former editor so stickler for em dashes and the proper use of commas, etc.; against the overuse of such words as “just” and “only”; and seeing the word This well-handled historical novel, *Emilia*, begins innocently enough with Emilia’s father patiently explaining to the family: “They are after the religious ones, and we […] go to the synagogue once a year for Yom Kippur, that’s how religious are we!” He then predicts the lie of the story: If we comply with what they tell us, we’ll be fine. As a former editor so stickler for em dashes and the proper use of commas, etc.; against the overuse of such words as “just” and “only”; and seeing the word “who” used in lieu of “whom” in some spots, I found myself subconsciously reaching for my blue pencil—a work this powerful deserves the highest quality edit. But as I got more and more involved with Emilia, knew her better, I didn’t give a damn if a few sentences ended with double punctuation, I cared only for the protagonist. As the story of Emilia unfolded, my discomfort increased page by page. How could things possibly get worse for her? They can and they do. First, the family is removed to a ghetto where a beautiful young Emilia is forced by the Unterscharführer to “exchange favors” to keep herself and her family alive. Her only comfort is in knowing that she is not the only young woman shamed by violent and repeated sexual assault. They are moved again and again, each situation worsening for Emilia, now on her own. She learns that there are not only enemies outside the barracks but inside as well, the inside enemies often more selfish and cruel. I won’t give anything away, whether Emilia survives or not; I will leave that up to the reader to decide. Besides, the phrase “a testament to the strength of the human spirit” is beyond cliché when applied to this work, it’s insulting. Emilia leaves a mark.

  19. 5 out of 5

    L.S.

    Another stunningly powerful story from the Midwood camp. This time, the author focuses on those who rarely see the light of day in our history books, whether fiction or non-fiction. The women, who by virtue of their appearance, became the playthings of the cruellest, most sadistic forces imaginable. Such vile men, who felt they had the right to mistreat them at every opportunity and equally vile onlookers, (frequently fellow internees) who taunted and condemned women like Emilia, because "she ha Another stunningly powerful story from the Midwood camp. This time, the author focuses on those who rarely see the light of day in our history books, whether fiction or non-fiction. The women, who by virtue of their appearance, became the playthings of the cruellest, most sadistic forces imaginable. Such vile men, who felt they had the right to mistreat them at every opportunity and equally vile onlookers, (frequently fellow internees) who taunted and condemned women like Emilia, because "she had it better" than they did! *sharp intake of breath* Yet, despite enduring beatings, persistent rape and whippings, these abused women were still frowned upon by others. That anyone could have been in their position voluntarily beggars belief, for these women were prisoners too. They aren't the collaborators, of whom we sometimes read or see in films. These are the forgotten victims of those appalling times. Emotive writing that is uncomfortable to read at times, but that portrays the lives of those who survived such enduring misery with brutal honesty and complete respect. A sensitive topic, written with humility and a passion for the truth.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    You can read all my reviews here: https://ahavenforbooklovers.wordpress... For the past two years, I have been reading a lot of historical fiction set during WWII. I have learned new things because most of these books are inspired by true events. My curiosity and interest in history is what made me decide to read this book. Emilia by Ellie Midwood is such a dark, devastating narration about concentration camps during the Nazi regime. The story is narrated by Emilia, a young, beautiful Jewish woman You can read all my reviews here: https://ahavenforbooklovers.wordpress... For the past two years, I have been reading a lot of historical fiction set during WWII. I have learned new things because most of these books are inspired by true events. My curiosity and interest in history is what made me decide to read this book. Emilia by Ellie Midwood is such a dark, devastating narration about concentration camps during the Nazi regime. The story is narrated by Emilia, a young, beautiful Jewish woman. The book begins with the Nazi invasion and so right from the start; we see how drastically Emilia’s life changed. As a young female prisoner, she soon becomes a target for the Nazi soldiers. The need for survival forces Emilia to trade her body to stay alive. This book was so heavy that I thought of DNFing before the halfway mark. The things that were happening to the female prisoners were too heartbreaking. The author doesn’t use explicit language or explain the rapes in graphic detail but this doesn’t lessen the horror. I kept reading as I sympathized with Emilia and looked forward to her life after imprisonment. As I have already mentioned, this book is quite heavy. Rape is a recurrent theme in the narrative so there are many scenes that were difficult to read. There were other themes though. I especially liked the theme of friendship as illustrated between Emilia and other female prisoners like Magda. Family was also a recurrent theme. I also liked that the author decided to show life after the Nazi rule. This was a very important aspect of the book. Another theme that stood out for me is courage. The courage of the female prisoners was inspiring and moving. Emilia is the kind of book that you read and wish you could forget about immediately. However, I know that I won’t ever forget it. The book broke my heart and made me so angry. Emilia’s story is the same for thousand of Jewish women who went through similar atrocities during the Nazi regime. This is their story and its one that cannot be forgotten by anyone touched by it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    SA

    Nobody can describe the tragedy, suffering, and pain in war better than Ellie Midwood. This book is another one of her books which will bring tears to your eyes. Unlike the others, the heroine is not a soldier or a resistance fighter, yet she is undeniably a very strong female character. In this book Emilia is a Jewish victim, trying to stay alive as a beautiful woman amidst chaos, brutality, and discrimination. It was really difficult for me to read the suffering of this woman, but I literally Nobody can describe the tragedy, suffering, and pain in war better than Ellie Midwood. This book is another one of her books which will bring tears to your eyes. Unlike the others, the heroine is not a soldier or a resistance fighter, yet she is undeniably a very strong female character. In this book Emilia is a Jewish victim, trying to stay alive as a beautiful woman amidst chaos, brutality, and discrimination. It was really difficult for me to read the suffering of this woman, but I literally couldn’t stop. Emilia does what she must but the scars are both emotional and physical. This book brings important questions such as “Are forgiveness and reconciliation possible after the war?”, “Is healing possible?” And as in all Midwood’s books, this brings to the fore the understanding that both sides are victims of the war and that war creates monsters from both sides. After all the tears, the author brought a smile to my face as the last few chapters brought a perfect ending to a heartbreakingly beautiful story. I am speechless and starved for more.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Angela Lockwood

    Emilia the central character in this book is a complex one. She is a young woman who knows wrong from right, but takes a morally dubious decision to help her family to survive. A woman that survives because of her good looks is not a popular one with her fellow Jews. She finds out that camp life, rather than shape a common bond against the enemy, is poisoned by jealousy. Rather than facing sympathy, that her good looks are a curse as much as a blessing, she encounters hostility from every corner Emilia the central character in this book is a complex one. She is a young woman who knows wrong from right, but takes a morally dubious decision to help her family to survive. A woman that survives because of her good looks is not a popular one with her fellow Jews. She finds out that camp life, rather than shape a common bond against the enemy, is poisoned by jealousy. Rather than facing sympathy, that her good looks are a curse as much as a blessing, she encounters hostility from every corner. I liked the fact that this book was not just about the Holocaust, it was also about what happened to Emilia after the war ended. It followed the story of Europe after the horrendous events of World War II. Soviet occupation, the release of prisoners of war and the big strive to rebuild cities and lives. It shows that the writer has done her research and knows a great deal about Poland during and after the war. The book is written in an engaging style and I read the book in a few days, even though the subject matter was very painful at times. The message that forgiveness is the first step to healing your wounds is a very hopeful one. It is also a timely reminder that we should have tolerance and not let racial hatred destroy us again.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    I've long been a WWII buff starting with Anne Frank's Diary. Rape, something that we KNOW happened at concentration camps is one thing that has always been brushed under the rug. Thankfully, Ellie Midwood attacked it head on. A marvelous story of courage and the indignation that poor women had to endure at already the lowest time in their lives. Emilia's story is heartbreaking and yet she teaches us about forgiveness... I've long been a WWII buff starting with Anne Frank's Diary. Rape, something that we KNOW happened at concentration camps is one thing that has always been brushed under the rug. Thankfully, Ellie Midwood attacked it head on. A marvelous story of courage and the indignation that poor women had to endure at already the lowest time in their lives. Emilia's story is heartbreaking and yet she teaches us about forgiveness...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Trebonius Octavianus

    Riveting 5 Stars!!! The darkest days in history of Nazi Germany through a woman's eyes by Ellie Midwood is a haunting but riveting piece of world literature detailing a horrific period in the 20th century. The atrocious death camps are something that should never be forgotten, and never happen again. This Kindle ebook is a definite read, 5stars!!! Riveting 5 Stars!!! The darkest days in history of Nazi Germany through a woman's eyes by Ellie Midwood is a haunting but riveting piece of world literature detailing a horrific period in the 20th century. The atrocious death camps are something that should never be forgotten, and never happen again. This Kindle ebook is a definite read, 5stars!!!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sandra "Jeanz"

    REVIEW World War 2 and the Holocaust is a subject I feel strongly about, in that both children and adults should never forget. Though this book is fictional it is actually based on what really happened during the holocaust to the unfortunate people the Nazi's decided didn't fit in with their idea of a perfect race. As the blurb says this book is dedicated to the women that really had to go through the horrendous treatment from the Nazis. The cover features a Nazi soldier and a stark wire fence top REVIEW World War 2 and the Holocaust is a subject I feel strongly about, in that both children and adults should never forget. Though this book is fictional it is actually based on what really happened during the holocaust to the unfortunate people the Nazi's decided didn't fit in with their idea of a perfect race. As the blurb says this book is dedicated to the women that really had to go through the horrendous treatment from the Nazis. The cover features a Nazi soldier and a stark wire fence topped with barbed wire in the background. In the forefront of the cover is a woman facing the wire fence but looking over shoulder, you can see tracks of blood on her back and shoulders. I don't know whether you would call it a sub title or a byline, but it states "The darkest days in history of Nazi Germany through the eyes of a woman". This really does sum up the point of view that the book is told from. I can't put my finger on the exact reason why but I felt kind of drawn to the book. Within the first 5% of this book I felt drawn in and intrigued what the Brettenheimer family story would be. The main character is Emilia Brettenheimer,who at the beginning of the book is about 19 years old and is fairly proud to be a German. Her father, Oskar even believes that the new regime under Hitler may be good for the country, so doesn't move to England when the family has the chance. Basically he feels he is safe, he is a German, he cannot speak English so why would he want to move there. Sadly it soon becomes apparent that if you are a Jew, you are no longer welcome, nor allowed to be German. First the Brettenheimer family have their beautiful home taken from them. Soldiers turn up one day and tell the family to pack a bag as they are being resettled in Krakow. The soldiers inform the family they can only take thirty zloty in total as a family, and must not take valuables or jewellery with them. Still Oskar Brettenheimer as head of the family continues to look on the bright side thinking this resettlement is just a blip, just a temporary measure. That they will return to their home and pick up their lives where they had left it. In Krakow the whole Brettenheimer family are placed in what became known as the "ghetto". Here life is much different, food is rationed and if you don't work you don't eat. Also if you cannot work you are shipped out to "the other place" or simply shot! Emilia's parents, Oskar and Hannah are lucky in that their sons, Alfred, Martin and Ariel have work, and Emilia is "useful" as she volunteers at the nearby hospital so they are allowed to stay in the ghetto for now. The problems begin when Ariel, or Ari as the family call him falls ill and its clear he needs medication. Life in the ghetto is rough, poor, and a place where a simple cold can turn into a life threatening illness. The Nazis in charge of the ghetto is known to help the Jews with extra food or medication but his help comes at a price. He will trade the jewellery that the Jewish people brought with them hidden in their clothing, sometimes sewn inside for whatever it is they made need. Sadly these few hidden gems don't last forever and then Emilia has nothing to left to trade but herself. Which she ends up having to do, its that or her family will be sent elsewhere during one of the regular inspections. The Nazis Officer, SS Richter who is in charge of the ghetto does initially protect the Brettenheimer family, moving them from one block of housing that is to be emptied and the occupants taken away and transported to a camp. Emilia pays dearly for that privilege/small "kindness" with the only thing she can trade for her families safety, her body. Emilia is ashamed at having to do this, and others around her including members of her own family snub her or tell her she disgusts them. Later in the book when Emilia finds herself without her family literally pushed into a barracks room full of strangers, another girl around her age extends a hand of friendship and invites Emilia to share her bunk. The barracks is overcrowded, dirty, and smells horrendous and the prisoners have to share one thin mattress between two. The young girl is a lively red head called Magda, who seems strangely cheery in comparison to all the other women in the barracks. Magda immediately takes Emilia under her wing, telling her she should be okay as she doesn't look traditionally Jewish which will make her stand out more. Magda explains that being good looking should help Emilia attract a good benefactor. Magda also reveals to Emilia what happened to her on her first night and how to handle it, so that when the very same thing happens to Emilia that very night. Magda explains she has a guard by the name of Schneider who sneaks her extra food and "protects" her from the unwanted attention of the other guards and men in the camp. According to Magda its the only way to avoid the attention of groups of soldiers. As when one particular guard takes you as his that there is a kind of man-code that means the others leave you alone. With Emilia's good looks being a mixed blessing she soon attracts the eye of an Officer, which according to Magda is even better. Magda encourage Emilia to smile at the Officer and allow him to use her for sex in exchange for extra food, clothes but more importantly for his protection against the other men in the camp. Though being popular with the men or being under the protection of a Guard or Officer means being extremely unpopular with some of the other prisoners. In fact they bully and pick on you all the more. It is better and much safer to make sure you are never on your own with them, which is why Magda and Emilia try to stick together. Both young women, Emilia and Magda have aged beyond their years. They have had to adapt quickly in order to survive. So when a young sensitive, innocent looking new girl, Helene arrives at their barracks n both Emilia and Magda can see their younger selves in the new girl, Helene. They decide to quietly help the new girl so Idrit doesn't bully her for being associated with them on top of everything else that is sure to happen to the girl who looks barely 16 yrs old. The character I loved the most in this book is Emilia, she is willing to do anything at all in order to try and save her family from being taken to a concentration camp or being shot. Throughout the book Emilia is literally used and abused all the way through this book, either by then Nazi Guards, Officers or Commandants as well as by her fellow Jewish people and prisoners. You cannot help but feel for her and imagine how she must have felt emotionally and physically, as well as wondering what you would have done if you were put in the same position. I found the friendship that developed between Magda and Emilia amazing. You could say by Magda taking Emilia under her wing probably saved her life. Magda taught Emilia how to switch off, endure and even to smile whatever was being done to her. Of course I loved Magda from the point she enters the book and yep I did shed more than a few tearsat a certain point in the book for her character. (You'll know what I mean ad where I mean when you read it.) I also immediately took to the character of Klaus, the last race of people he expected help from actually offered the hand of at first friendship and then is given a home that leads on to much better times for him than he himself have just endured. I am being totally honest from the point of Klaus entering the book I had a strange feeling of de-ja-vu as I thought I had read a similar ending in another book, or seen in a similar movie, but I couldn't remember the title. This is no way a criticism of the book it just made me puzzle and wonder where I felt I knew it from. Also within the blurb it states that this book is based on the real stories of the women that went through this abuse, maybe that what made it seem familiar to me. Now this next thing I say may seem a little controversial but I felt myself liking the character of SS Officer Manfred who ended up protecting Emilia by claiming her as his own, which ended her being molested and raped by any other guards at the camp. He even talks about the war and the state of the front-line as well as having discussions about Hitler and his theories. Manfred at times seems to believe that there is a future for him and Emilia after the war. It seems Hitler has his troops believing his propaganda about re-educating the Jewish race. I also liked the character of Friede, a political prisoner who served as house-keeper/maid at the home of one of the Commandant's, his family and his sadistic adjutant (second in command) whom featured earlier in the book too. Friede did her best to warn the new maid what she would suffer when the adjutant was left in charge in the Commandants absence. The author also covers the fact that paperwork consisting of lists of people murdered by the Nazis were burned so as little evidence as possible was left behind for the liberators. Then we see how the Nazis react when they are the ones behind the fences topped with barbed wire, and how they are treat by their former prisoners. The book shows that some of the liberated Jews and other prisoners actually go as far as saying that they forgive the Nazis. I'll be totally honest here, I truthfully do not think that I could have been as forgiving. There is one particular character that carries out an act of compassion for a dying Nazis soldier that had singled her out in the concentration camp to be raped multiple times by himself and other guards. At first her reaction when asked to help this guard was a type of revulsion and a "you reap what you sow" attitude but after talking to other survivors she returns to help her former rapist and actually forgives him telling him to "go in peace". This reminded me of another book I read that was written by a Jewish survivor Eva Korr, who also says she forgives. This book always has something going on all the time, just when you think life can't get much worse for Emilia it does. For every bit of light Emilia gets into her life she has to pay for it with sex, slavery and in beatings. All through this Emilia also has to live without the knowledge of how or at times even where her family is. This book shows the harsh realities of a war that for the most part is glossed over in schools and colleges around the world. I will be taking a look at the other titles written by this author. My first reaction/thoughts upon finishing this book were that this was a heartbreaking story of Emilia's journey from a cosy life with her parents and three brothers, through the ghetto, two concentration camps, to a life in seclusion tormented not only through her memories of the horrific things that happened to her whilst in the ghetto & camps at the hands of the SS but also by fellow survivors after the liberation. The female characters in this book represent real women and what they went through at the hands of the Nazis, ranging from lowly Guards to the top Commandants. These women deserve to have their stories told and for them to be read and remembered. These women were presented with some extremely difficult decisions to make that quite literally were life or death choices. When they were raped multiple times, or had to resort to having sex in exchange for food to save them from starvation, or clothes to keep them warm in the cold harsh conditions at the camp then went on surviving instead of committing suicide, their fellow prisoners would also bully them physically, verbally and mentally too. Some of the other prisoners and later survivors labelled these women as collaborators. Sadly this meant even when the abused women were then liberated from the concentration camps they still had to put up with constant reminders of what they had been through. Ellie Midwood, the author, really explains what the real people went through without making it seem glamourised in anyway for the book. Ellie is so descriptive that you feel you are standing alongside those women standing in the mud, in the freezing weather conditions during roll call, trying not to look at the latest unfortunate inmate that is being beaten with batons, or whatever other sick punishment the guards, both male and female have thought up for them.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ron Shoemaker

    Very Painful and Heartearming After all the pain and suffering Emmi was able first survive all the camps and found peace at least!! Hard to put this book down!! The scars of war turned out to be beautiful!!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Morgan

    ‘Emilia’ tells the darkest tale honestly, drawing the reader into this fictional young woman’s harrowing life as subtly and surprisingly as Emilia herself was drawn, yet it shows so accurately what happened to countless victims. You cannot help connecting with Emilia as you turn page after page, reliving her nightmare told with startling candor. This is an inspiring tale of courage, yet the horrors of war fill every page. Ellie Midwood successfully conveys this young woman’s tale of rape and abu ‘Emilia’ tells the darkest tale honestly, drawing the reader into this fictional young woman’s harrowing life as subtly and surprisingly as Emilia herself was drawn, yet it shows so accurately what happened to countless victims. You cannot help connecting with Emilia as you turn page after page, reliving her nightmare told with startling candor. This is an inspiring tale of courage, yet the horrors of war fill every page. Ellie Midwood successfully conveys this young woman’s tale of rape and abuse through poignantly compelling, as well as frighteningly sadistic, characters; transporting the reader into the heart of a young woman desperately trying to survive. Not for the faint of heart, Emilia’s story shares more than just the dreadfulness of her darkest days; it goes beyond them into her determination to recover and find renewal, emphasizing the strength of Positive Resolve and Power of Hope that all survivors understand. 5 Stars Without a Doubt!

  28. 4 out of 5

    C.A. King

    Wow! What a powerful book. I hate to have to add a few warnings to it because I honestly would love everyone to take the time to read this story. Warning mature subject matter. This book contains scenes of violence, torture, rape, explicit language and hate crimes. If you follow my reviews, you know I don't normally veer towards historical fiction. I decided to take the plunge. I chose an amazing book to wet my feet with. Society has begun to forget the atrocities of the past. This book is a wake u Wow! What a powerful book. I hate to have to add a few warnings to it because I honestly would love everyone to take the time to read this story. Warning mature subject matter. This book contains scenes of violence, torture, rape, explicit language and hate crimes. If you follow my reviews, you know I don't normally veer towards historical fiction. I decided to take the plunge. I chose an amazing book to wet my feet with. Society has begun to forget the atrocities of the past. This book is a wake up call - we can never let history repeat itself. The reader follows Emilia an innocent german born jewish girl from the age of 19 through her life in concentration camps. What happens to her isn't for the faint hearted. Her sheer will to survive is compelling and drove me to read the entire novel in one sitting. I particularly like the way the book continues after the fall of Hitler and the tables are turned. Hate brings out the worst in everyone. I'm not an expert in this time period, but there are a few lines which may not ring authentic, they however do not interfere with the enjoyment of the writing or the underlying message. Recommended read for all mature audience! A full 5 stars!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Squeaky

    Wow! Great novel, kept me on the edge of my seat through this read. Besides the great amount of information I received about nazi camps, sexual slavery and camp life... I really feel this novel came together because of all the ancillary characters. The people she meets (good and bad) and how they shape the woman she becomes. Many of these characters are just passing through her life, so for the bad characters- we don't have to be "stuck" with that person for long, etc. I especially liked that th Wow! Great novel, kept me on the edge of my seat through this read. Besides the great amount of information I received about nazi camps, sexual slavery and camp life... I really feel this novel came together because of all the ancillary characters. The people she meets (good and bad) and how they shape the woman she becomes. Many of these characters are just passing through her life, so for the bad characters- we don't have to be "stuck" with that person for long, etc. I especially liked that the reader isn't bogged down with camp names - location details- just enough to give you an idea without tying you to one camp. Interesting about the Russians coming in, I would like to have learned a bit more about life with the Russians afterwards. Maybe another novel?? Highly recommend.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Young

    I suppose the clue is in the title: there was no way that “Emilia: The darkest days in history of Nazi Germany through a woman's eyes” was going to be an easy read, and it wasn’t. And if I needed any more advice, then the dedication — “This story is dedicated to all the victims of sexual slavery in German concentration camps, who had to endure inhumane suffering under the Nazi regime” — was an additional warning. And yet, and yet… it was, eventually, an uplifting read. In the first part of the b I suppose the clue is in the title: there was no way that “Emilia: The darkest days in history of Nazi Germany through a woman's eyes” was going to be an easy read, and it wasn’t. And if I needed any more advice, then the dedication — “This story is dedicated to all the victims of sexual slavery in German concentration camps, who had to endure inhumane suffering under the Nazi regime” — was an additional warning. And yet, and yet… it was, eventually, an uplifting read. In the first part of the book, Emilia, a young Jewish girl, finds herself in the concentration camps, forced to rely upon her wits and her body to survive. I knew, of course, that women like Emilia existed and were subjected to extraordinary brutality and Ellie Midwood doesn’t shrink away from describing Emilia’s experience, though succeeding in doing so of necessity rather than gratuitously. (I confess: I skipped some of the grimmer parts.) With liberation, the second part of the book deals with Emilia’s struggle to survive in a new world where she both distrusts and is distrusted, before she eventually finds resolution and peace. If I’m honest, I found that in this section, the writing lacked the raw power that characterised the first part and I even felt it went on a little bit too long — but it was a much easier read. I’ll certainly read more by Ellie Midwood, (though hopefully something a little less graphic), because I enjoyed both the quality of her writing and the insights into the characters of the very different men who encounters and took advantage of Emilia in her journey through horror. I’ve given the book five stars because the first half certainly deserved it, though (as I say above) I did find it tailed off a little later on, and some of the writing was a little slower and less engaging. I can’t, in all honesty, say I enjoyed it — but it was very definitely worth a read.

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