Monday, April 24, 2017

Historical novelist Cynthia A. Sandor Completes True Family Story

After 24 years of research and writing, editing and rewriting, historical author, Cynthia A. Sandor, releases her first novel, "Through Innocent Eyes – The Chosen Girls of the Hitler Youth." Spanning fifty-eight years from 1931 to 1989 and set against the epic panorama of Austria during WWII. "Through Innocent Eyes” is a sweeping story of family values, love, and betrayal that illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: through the eyes of an innocent child in the Hitler Youth.

"It's been an incredible, eye-opening, and emotional journey, sifting through my mother’s upbringing, talking with her family and friends about growing up in Austria during WWII, and deciphering hundreds of pages of German documents including my mother’s secret journal from the time she was in the League of German Girls,” says Sandor. "For an entire year, sometimes working in upwards of 90 hours a week, my mind was totally focused and committed to telling the true story of my mother and her comrades who participated in the unknown rural educational finishing school for German girls called 'Country Service Year Camp.'  I was stuck at one point but then God created a miracle. I had the blessed opportunity to visit Austria and Poland for one month and meet with the current owner of the manor home where my mother wrote her journal. I also meet with the last four remaining survivors of Camp Seidorf. We exchanged journals, stories and laughter. Meeting Ellie, Nelly, Steffi, and Marie, brought me closer to my mother than ever before. I returned home with a greater passion to complete my mother’s story.  After visiting all the places she wrote about in her journal, I was ready to finish her story.”

All during her upbringing, Cynthia and her mother Gertrude would travel to Austria where Gertrude would ever so innocently regale her daughter about fond childhood memories, where she was born, where she was raised, and where she met her father, PFC Robert Sandor, who with his infantry, liberated Flossenbürg Concentration Camp.   

The novel provides a complete authentic account of civilian life from the perspective of a war child in her youth.  It offers a richer understanding of what was expected of the girls in the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM). Despite numerous family struggles, “Through Innocent Eyes” is a story of a young girl’s adventure, of her love for her Fatherland, and hope for a greater future, ultimately triumphing with the downfall of Germany, rebuilding a country, and her new future in America.

"My mother was 10 years old when it was mandatory for her to join the League of German Girls.  My grandmother Josefa, despised Hitler. A year later, WWII began,” says Sandor.  “My mother died when she was 61 years old and I want her life to have meaning. Not everyone is aware of how the National Socialistic upbringing in the League of German Girls used paramilitary-like disciplinary measures to build their loyalty and character. Coupled with pagan rituals, songs, and folklore, I wanted to capture the self-actualization of my mother as she progressed from childhood and living in poverty to adolescence and becoming ‘one’ with her country. Germany prepared their children for adulthood,” says Sandor. She was in an elite rural educational camp called ‘Country Service Year Camp.’ This 8-month long camp was a finishing school for specially selected girls. It not only taught them home economics, farming, and working in the community, it taught them to build their self-esteem, become self-reliant, work together in camaraderie, and prepared themselves for adulthood.”

“When the Russian invaded my mother’s hometown Kleinzell, my mother and grandmother, Josefa, fled to the American Zone in Linz, Austria. Leaving her brother Franzel behind, he stood tall to fight in the Hitler Youth against the Russian Army.  After the war, the women became Debris Women, rebuilding their beloved country with their bare hands.”

“As life was slowly returning to normal the stores opened, the newspaper started to print, and Radio Linz started airing. At 17, mother secured a job in a local coffee shop in the Hauptplatz in Linz, and that’s where she met my father, PFC Robert Sandor. On May 8, 1948, they married in the bomb out cathedral known as The Dom. 

“I want to shed light on not only how the girls in the Hitler Youth were raised, but also the true history of League of German Girls by using declassified documents, original leadership pamphlets, and my mother’s authentic personal journal she wrote in 1941 when she was 13 years old. Many assume that the girls were raised to breed as many children as possible - this was not the case at all.  Nothing could be further from the truth.”

About the Story
“Through Innocent Eyes – The Chosen Girls of the Hitler Youth” tells of the true life-struggles of Gertrude Kerschner and her family set in Kleinzell, Austria prior to and after Austria is annexed into Germany. Gertrude’s life embarks on a remarkable journey of camaraderie under the Swastika.  Gertrude’s mother, Josefa becomes financially stable as all of her children are inducted into the Hitler Youth.  As the war progresses, each embarks on their own path towards survival, freedom, loss, death, and ultimately reunite under Western Allies. Based upon the author’s mother’s original journal and anchored in historical fact, “Through Innocent Eyes” celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the strength of a child at war.

Editorial Review

“Cynthia has presented in pedantic detail the daily experience of her mother during her mandatory service in the Hitler Youth in the most compelling and easy to ready way. From the time of her initiation until her completed training at Landjahr Lager Seidorf, the book brings to the reader new perspectives and an intimate first-hand accounting of the purpose, ideology, and daily routines of the Hitler Youth Movement as experienced by Gertrude Kerschner. These details will dispel many possible misconceptions or skewed perspective of the League of German Girls.”  ~ Paul E. Fischer – President – The German Cultural Society of Erie, PA

“…a five-star rating. Through Innocent Eyes” is the fascinating biography of Gertrude Kerschner and her time as a BDM girl in the elite rural educational program called Country Service Year Camp. I was captivated by the steady indoctrination of Gertrude as she progresses from her time in the Young Girls League to becoming a “Girl in Service” for her country. The reader is given a chronological account into the progress of what the BDM girls learned every step of the way. Every chapter builds upon the prior, giving an insightful look into Gertrude’s personal world.” ~ Jeanne Onuska – CEO European Military Historical Society, Conneaut, Ohio. 

About the Author
Cynthia A. Sandor is a historical novelist who weaves past events, people, and stories into a rich tapestry. When she isn't in front of her computer, she shares her knowledge by giving lectures at WWII Living History re-enactments and libraries. In her spare time, she gardens, and travels around the U.S. and Europe to discover amazing WWII stories. Cynthia lives with her two Chihuahuas, in Tampa, Florida.
Every August, Ms. Sandor is attending the D-Day Conneaut, Ohio WWII Living History Event. 
Autograph copies are available by going to the AUTHORS WEBSITE - FREE SHIPPING!

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