Books about World War II — and there are so, so many — tend to focus on the big names (Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt), the most egregious acts (the death camps, the Siege of Leningrad, the Blitz) or the lives of people terrorized and slaughtered.
Less common are books about the ordinary citizen whose life was laid waste by the war — and even less common, at least in this country, are books about the ordinary German citizen.
“Inge’s War,” by journalist Svenja O’Donnell, is about the author’s German grandmother, who was a teenager when the war began. But through O’Donnell’s meticulous reporting and sensitive, compelling storytelling it becomes the gripping story of anyone navigating life in a war zone.
Inge Wiegandt grew up in Königsberg in East Prussia, a German-owned sliver of land tucked between Russia and Poland. The fact that her city was bombed to rubble during the war and is now part of Russia (new name: Kaliningrad) gives you an inkling of some of what Inge and her family endured.