This book won the prestigeous "Jeanette Fair Award" from Delta Kappa Gamma Society International.
The book was "Dedicated to the legions of innocent men, women and children of all nations drawn into wars. Their suffering was often much greater than what my family and I had endured."
Excerpt from WAR CHILD:
"Yes, Papa. But why is everything so different? Mary said that we should really hate the Jews for trying to poison us. Don't you think we should?"
Papa was angry and he pulled me toward him. His eyes penetrated my being and his hands gripped my shoulders. "Don't you ever hate," he said. "Hate is a terrible thing, so we don't hate anyone. Some day you will learn that hate makes you a lesser person than the person you hate. Now you listen to me, not to your friends, or anyone else. Anneliese, learn this, and remember it always. You will not hate Mister Klein, or anyone! You may dislike someone for what he or she does, but I will not hear that word...hate...in our home. Is that clear? I expect that you will behave and be courteous with anyone, but especially with Mr. Klein and Mr. Freiman or you will face my consequences."
Another excerpt WAR CHILD:
As we left (the rail station), a taxi driver called out to us. We joined the evening traffic but the darkness of the night did not penetrate the streets of Washington, D.C. The traffic flowed smoothly and steadily. I found no chaos here, nor morbid darkness. Everything was so unlike the Germany I had known these past eight years.
Suddenly, the taxi stopped. Lights engulfed everything around us. Wonderstruck, I sat quietly.
Realization crept into my mind and took hold. "So that is the way people live where there is peace!" I said softly. Tears welled up in my eyes until the lights were a blur. "If only Mama and everyone, everyone in the world could live where there is peace!"
Letters to the Author, Reviews and Recommendations:
I couldn't put it down!
"It was a beautiful weekend but I found myself staying inside reading your book -- I couldn't put it down! I found myself crying in parts, amazed in others and I learned so much about what you and so many others went through. It was the best book! I loved your writing style and found myself at the end of the book wanting to know more." - Jane, from Virginia
The tears were streaming down my cheeks
"Thank you for sending your book. I was so excited that I began reading immediately and could not put the book down. I finished reading about 10 in the evening -- we get our mail in the morning so it kept me occupied the rest of the day! There were many times while I was reading that tears came to my eyes. By the time you had to leave your family to go to America the tears were streaming down my cheeks." - Bonnie, from Iowa
I guess I know what I'll be doing tonight!
"Received your book today -- it was in my mailbox when I got home for lunch. I was so anxious to read it, I started the first few pages and was almost late getting back to work!! I guess I know what I'll be doing tonight!" - Julie, from Minnesota
I didn't want it to end
"I just finished reading 'War Child' and I just wanted to tell you that I enjoyed it very much. In fact, I didn't want it to end. I was hoping I'd find out how things went for you after you got married. Perhaps you are working on another book?" - Elaine, from North Dakota
Every now and then a true 'gem' will surface...
"I'd long hoped to find a book like this, which speaks to the Nazi-era experience of an ordinary German person and his or her family, written by an actual family member. Every now and then a true 'gem' will surface, unexpected, to be shared and treasured. Such is this 234 page autobiography of a young girl who eventually became a retired teacher. I could not put it down. Unlike almost all histories, this book is written by and through the point of view of a common person from an ordinary town who experienced all of the illusions of invincibility, and the realities of ultimate loss that was Nazi Germany. The main characters are her family and extended family. 'War Child' is very well worth the purchase price. It has quiet lessons that can be applied directly to us in contemporary America." - Dick, from Minnesota
An interesting reflection of a childhood in Nazi Germany
April 12, 2003
"Ms. Woodstrom's first publication will help you understand the reason so many Germans viewed Hitler and his promises the way they did before and during WWII. This book is a first hand account from the author, presented in her voice at the various stages of her life during this time. She tells of the day-to-day life of her family and community and captures the perceptions that people had about Hitler, the economy, the reasons for this war and the drastic changes in their lives. It's a real insight into the struggles and the challenges and yes, even the joyful times. "War Child" not only kept me reading far into the night, it also left me feeling like I want to know more...what happened to her family, her neighbors and her town after she left? I have a new appreciation for the freedom and abundance here in America. This book is suitable for all ages."
You are a gifted author
September 4, 2003
"I am writing to thank you for putting down in book form the amazing background of your earlier years of life. Of course, I knew many of these aspects from your verbal sharing over the years, but I must say I was absolutely intrigued by your book. You have a gift in bringing the past into the present with living color and amazing detail. Both Linda and I have read the book, and we both want to thank you for sharing such a painful part of your past with us. We can understand how some people are offended by your honesty and openness within the book, but alas, too many people would like to color history, as well as the reality of that which people were forced to live. We have read many accounts of the years leading up to the war, and even of the war itself, but I must say you have captured the while scenario with interest and with an awareness of the gravity of the entire event for all who were forced to live through the nightmare. You are a gifted author.
We have talked about the book with our children, and we need to share with you how our son-in-law is looking forward to reading the book. Perhaps he has never told you, but during his years in Ada, Ken was one of the people who encouraged him, and always showed an interest in him. Thus, he could sense some of the genuine warmth to which you responded in Ken, during those trying days after the conclusion of the war.
I think back to the times we talked about your encounters with the 'sisters' and even the priest himself. Now I better understand some of those conversations. I want to encourage you to be strong in your faith, even in light of all the darkness you have encountered. It remains a tragedy that your beloved Sandy was taken from us by such evil. Certainly war is not the only way in which we see evil in our world. I pray that Roy and his family will continue to give you much joy and inner peace.
God bless you, and thanks again for writing the book and sharing more of your life with us"
- Pastor L.W., Minnesota
Tells her own story in a very open and honest way
September 6, 2003
"We are grateful to have learned of this book when it was first published in spring 2003. It gives an unusual and, unfortunately, rarely noted perspective about German life from 1933-45 as experienced by an ordinary person and family in a small town. Annelee tells her own story in a very open and honest way, from the early days when she wanted to wear the uniform of the Hitler Youth, to the terrifying end days of the war when urban Germany was virtually destroyed. This is not an academic study of war theories; it is about what really happens to a people when their government chooses a tragic course."
How dangerous unchecked government can be
September 12, 2003
"What a book! What a storyteller! I remember a few snippets from freshman English class that you shared with us, but the opportunity to glimpse the whole picture was a rare treat I've been looking forward to. I once read an account by an "undercover" war correspondent who attended a speech by Hitler, and found himself so moved and overwhelmed by his speaking prowess that he suddenly found himself cheering and shouting with the rest of the crowd. You communicated that same spirit, that same awesome power of the prevailing tide. I feel one lesson that Nazi Germany teaches us is how dangerous unchecked government can be: how it can creep into and start to control our daily lives - with the best of intentions - and soon compromise our freedoms and even our right to independent thought. I very much appreciate and value your perspective as one who has lived through such a strict (and successful!) propaganda machine. I strongly feel if we just trust in our elected leaders and let them satisfy our wants and desires in exchange for ever-increasing tax rates the United States will soon cease to exist as we know and love it. On the other hand, I'm forced to be impressed by what the Third Reich was able to accomplish; how a broken and defeated nation at the end of WWI was able to come within a stone's throw of conquering the world. It's been said that if Hitler hadn't imprisoned all of the (Jewish) scientists... Germany would have developed the A-bomb before the United States and ended the war on their terms. Germany already had a more reliable rocket (V-2) than we did! What also strikes me is the wealth of development that Germany saw before and early in the war - the autobahn, fine new schools (for loyal party members of course), the housing and works programs and impressive social motivations to join the Nazi party always reflected Hitler's genius side (not the other side of his personality that wrought great suffering and evil). How insightful he was regarding human nature though - how else could he have enticed so many to join his crusade. In one part of your book I actually stopped reading and contemplated how beautiful the writing is - how descriptive and wonderful the wording; when you described the morning of your departure and the breathtaking surroundings you were so familiar with that I truly felt the natural wonder - and the love you had for your home. Thank you again for letting me share in your story. I will be recommending this book to my friends!!"
Can hardly wait for the sequel!
April 22, 2004
"I was honored to be able to buy this book directly from the author when she attended our women's Spring Luncheon as our Guest Speaker. She was so kind as to sign it for me with a German dedication. Although I was born an American, my children both carry German passports. I am glad for this opportunity to share with them the story of their country through the eyes of someone who was there to experience it all first hand. We are already planning to buy her next book and read more about her experiences with immigration."
It was fun taking classes with you...
June 11, 2004
"I graduated in 1979 from Twin Valley High School. German was one of the classes that I took under your instruction. I read the article in the MSUM Alum News abour your book, 'War Child'. It was fun taking classes with you, especially German class. I remember going to your home for a German supper to learn about their culture as well as the language. You made us feel so welcomed. When I went on to college I took a year of German and joined the German Club. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself."
- Tammy M. from Minnesota
It's so important that you have shared your story
September 24, 2004
"War Child is an absolute treasure. The pictures you drew through your writing were vivid. I was able to picture myself standing where you stood, and seeing the sights you saw. It continues to amaze me how so many things occurred at the hands of the Nazi regime and be able to keep the truth from so many of its people. My heart cried out for you and your family and what you had to experience. It is unimaginable for families in the United States today to be faced with food and clothing shortages, let alone be forced to leave their homes, jobs and family. It is so important that you have shared your story with others in this way. I can imagine that it was difficult to put years of your life into one book, but it was beautifully done." - Stuart L.
Couldn't put it down
October 11, 2008
"I just finished your first book and I couldn't put it down. I was very interesting hearing an account of what a young girl had to deal with in the war. My Grandma and Grandpa came over from Germany as young adults. We have relatives over in German and I remember my Dad saying they had sent care packages to a cousin's family during the war."
- Terry A., Minnesota
I felt as if I was right there with you...
October 29, 2008
"I bought your book 'War Child' at The Women's Showcase in Fargo. I just want to let you know that I have never enjoyed a book more, I couldn't put it down and I read it until 3 AM just because I needed to know how it ended. Thank you so much for writing this book, I have never taken a whole lot of interest in history and your life story gave me a whole new perspective on World War II. I felt as if I was right there with you and couldn't wait to turn the next page. I was disappointed when I didn't have any more pages to turn, thank you thank you so much - I can't wait to read your second book.God Bless You and Your Family!" - Kristin E., Minnesota
A former student inspired by Ms. Woodstrom
"Thank you so much for spending time with me and the VEHS students last week. I am sorry we did not have more time together; the students said the same thing. I am humbled when I think of all the hardships and challenges that you have faced in your lifetime. Your optimism and resilient spirit is truly remarkable. I did not realize it when I was young, brash, rude and insolent, but you were extremely instrumental in my decision to become an English teacher. Thank you for your kindness, patience and forgiveness; most of all, thanks for giving me books (then and now)! You are an amazing woman!"
- Cindy N.
Your books are very moving and informative
December 5, 2008
"Thank you for writing about you life. Your books are very moving and informative. We can learn many lessons from the things you've experienced. Your parents were wise, loving people with a faith in God. Without this background, your life would have been very different. Thank you again for sharing. We would like to order more books: 5 'War Child' and 5 'Empty Chairs' Enclosed is a check for $215.30"
- Gene and Delores