Give Me Tomorrow: A Young Girl’s Ordeals During The Russian WWII Invasion Of Eastern Germany is a memoir of a teenage girl living in Koselitz a small village in Pommern (Germany) during WW II. She lived on a farm in a rural part of the country where the war didn’t reach until the final days. But nothing could prepare them for the Soviet occupation: loss, death, disease, and starvation. Soviet retribution played back in full on the German non-combatants.
The Soviet’s took over much of Poland. The Poles were forced to relocate in Pommern, and the Pomeranians were forced deeper in to Germany. No transportation, shelter or food was provided.
Stabins was interred in a Soviet detention camp. A work camp that seemed to have little purpose aside from the ethnic cleansing of Eastern Germans. Stabins avoided rape by screaming a lot, crying, and lying about her age. (She 16 at the time). She avoid torture and outwitted her captures to avoid starvation.
We see these horrors through Stabins’ eyes. She is left with nothing.. not even her family. Slowly she rebuilds her life and finds what’s left of her family. (Those the Soviet’s didn’t murder.) But she’s young and her spirit is unbroken.
Stabins finds her way out of East German (more than once) and then to America. It is a well-written story about a little-known aspect of World War II and the early days of the Cold War. Her detailed recollections created a rich picture in my mind as I read her book.
Amazon Book Preview of “Give Me Tomorrow”
Excerpts from my Kindle
The celebration began on the eve of the wedding. It was the “Polterabend,” an old custom where broken crockery, glass, and dishes were further smashed at the front door of our house for good luck for the bride and groom. The custom also called for the bride and groom to clean up the smashed pieces. Of course, it was the farm hands early the next morning who were busy with shovels and rakes to take the mess to the town dump. For the townspeople, the Polterabend was a fun occasion and not missed by many. Everyone who wanted to and could participated; they lingered outside until platters of cake were passed around. Large sheet cakes had been baked especially for this occasion. Many guests had arrived to join this evening of fun and merriment that included reading funny poems and telling silly stories. People even dressed up for skits. The party lasted into the wee hours of the morning.
[This sounds like a Shivery a custom that was still in common practice for my parents’ generation.]
After reading “Give Me Tomorrow” I was curious about the history of Pommern, how my Maas ancestors arrived there, and more on the expulsion of Germans from Pomerania.
The actual immigration of Germans into Pomerania to started in the 2nd quarter of the 13th century. Two flows groups of people need to be recognized. The first one was along the coast line toward the east, thru Mecklenburg and Vorpommern and the islands of Usedom and Wollin and along the “Hinterpommern” (eastern Pomeranian) coastline. This route was taken by settlers from the Lower Saxony, the area of Westphalia and Holstein. They brought along the “Luebische” laws, the farm house and the “Hagenhufendorf” of the Lower Saxony. A Hagenhufendorf is farmsteads built on a road in a shape of a horse shoe surrounded in a right angle by farm land. The ending of their family names was frequently “-hagen”. These settlers who took this direction, settled mainly the principality of Ruegen.