Crowns, Crosses, and Stars: My Youth in Prussia, Surviving Hitler, and a Life Beyond
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This is the story of a remarkable life and a journey, from the privileged world of Prussian aristocracy, through the horrors of World War II, to high society in the television age of postwar America. It is also an account of a spiritual voyage, from a conventional Christian upbringing, through marriage to Pastor Martin Niemoeller, to conversion to Judaism.
Born during the turbulent days of the Weimar Republic, the author was the goddaughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II (to whom her father was financial advisor). During her teenage years, she witnessed the rise of the Third Reich and her family’s resistance to it, culminating in their involvement in “Operation Valkyrie,” the ill-fated attempt to assassinate Hitler and form a new government. At war’s end, she worked with British Intelligence to uncover Nazis leaders. Keeping a promise to her father, she left Germany for a new life in the United States in the 1950s, working for NBC and raising her son in the exciting world of New York, only to return to Germany as the wife of Martin Niemoeller, the voice of religious resistance during the Third Reich and of German guilt and conscience in the postwar decades. Upon her husband's death in 1984 she returned to America, after having converted to Judaism in London, and turned yet another page by becoming an active public speaker and author.
The title reflects a story of three parts: “Crowns,” the world of nobility in which the author was raised; “Crosses,” her life with Martin Niemoeller and his battles with the Third Reich; and “Stars,” the spiritual journey that brought her to Judaism.