30 April 2017

Review: Mutti's War by M.J. Brett



Mutti's War by M.J. Brett
Paperback, 312 pages
Published December 1st, 2003
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Mutti's war is the story of Regina Wolff, a rather delicate young German mother who is forced to smuggle her 3 small boys out of East Prussia when the Russians surround it in 1944.




My thoughts…

This courageous woman sacrifices all to protect her children while escaping from the Russian occupied portion of Prussia and to reunite her family. This was a great book from a perspective I don't hear about often, a German citizen during WWII and how awful Hitler was to his own people.

“It all began with an unexpected letter. As I think back, it all ended with an unexpected letter, as well. Had I known of the last letter, I might have responded differently to the first. But it would not have many any difference in the long run. Either decision would have brought change, and I have always detested change” – Regina Wolff 1911-1997

The Russians were forty miles away and closing in on K√∂nigsberg, when Regina received a letter from her husband, Gustav, who was serving in the German military. The first words in the letter;

“Destroy this letter as soon as you’ve read it, and tell no one of its contents. You must get the boys out of K√∂nigsberg, now!”

Gustav would be at the hospital in Karlsbad for thirty days and they must arrive to meet him before then. Regina began to wonder what Gustav’s job in the military was for him to have so much information. So began the daring escape to protect her children. Regina need to obtain a Ausweis, a pass and the proper papers before she could purchase tickets or get on a train. Once at the office she was told that she would receive a pass but her children would not. She wasn’t going to leave her children behind, later that evening Regina snuck back into the building and typed “and three sons” alongside her name on the proper paperwork.

The following morning Regina boarded the train to Berlin along with her three sons. They began their journey on the crowded train, the filth and stench was sickening but they had no other choice and they brought little food. After some time, the train stopped, all the passengers were removed from the train because the train was need to transport soldiers. Regina and her boys had to sit outside on the concrete in a cold rain until another train came along, a cattle train. Once again, they were taken off the train and had to walk. From then on, the conditions becoming progressively worse. They had to avoid Russian air attacks, Regina was almost raped, she also had to steal potatoes to feed her children who were hungry and sore from traveling by foot.

Throughout her journey, Regina became to realize that she was doubtful of Hitler’s intentions before she left with her children. Whenever she would try to talk to Gustav he would tell her not worry and not to voice her opinions out loud because by speaking about or writing letters could get her into trouble.

Her friend had taught her how to make a little transistor radio that she kept hidden from Gustav. When everyone was sleeping, Regina would go downstairs and listen to broadcasts, other than German broadcasts, and was surprised to hear how Hitler and Germany were viewed by the outside.

She did not agree with the SS enforcement of new laws that Jewish people were no longer allowed to own business or cars, go to public movies or concerts, or travel on streetcars. Radio broadcasts and posters have proclaimed Jew as ‘enemies of the people’ and they were singled out for mistreatment. 

When Hitler’s men had burned books that he considered radical, seemed strange to Regina, since most of those books were classics. She had doubt’s but again she didn’t voice her concern, she believed her husband knew best. Hitler began replacing school books with images showing the brains of Aryan, Jewish, African and Chinese people. The Aryan brains were drawn bigger while the others looked shriveled. It made no sense to her because she knew that human brains were one size only.

Did Regina and her children make it Karlsbad and what was in the second letter that Regina received? I highly recommend reading Mutti’s War to find out and because it’s a reminder of the horrific events of a time of history that should never be forgotten.

Mr. & Mrs. Brettschneider
Mutti’s War was my local library’s book club pick for the month of April. Since the author is local (Colorado Springs) she attended our discussion night, it was wonderful to meet her and her husband. The author, Margaret is married to one of Regina’s sons, ‘Willi’ in the book, and Mutti (pronounced ‘Moottee’ and means little mother in German) was her mother-in-law, the family name from Mutti's War is Brettschneider.

Me & M.J. Brett
Margaret spent about two years talking with Mutti about her journey, and made a promise to Mutti not to share her story until after she passed, not even her children knew the extent of the sacrifices she made. Only the names were changed but it is the true story of a mother forced to smuggle her three small boys out of East Prussia.


Mutti's War by M.J. Brett
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