Although I cursed it in my youth, dyslexia turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Not being able to read or write until the age of ten forced me to express myself through acting. At the Stephens College playhouse in Missouri I fell in love with an actor, a married actor. That experience led to the publication of my first book (Love and Madness: My Private Years with George C. Scott).
When I found myself pregnant. George wanted me to abort the baby. I refused. My friend Tammy Grimes, who later became a two-time Tony Award winner (The Unsinkable Molly Brown and Private Lives) helped me find the Florence Crittenden Home for Unwed Mothers outside of Boston, where I gave birth to our daughter. My play, Bad Girl, was based on that experience.
Years later George returned to my life (Hello Again).
The hardships of war and the Great Depression that mark my family's history led me to write Saturday Night Dance Club.
After living in Terre Haute, Indiana, and earlier in North Conway New Hampshire, near the home of Peyton Place author, Grace Metalious, I was inspired to write Freedom's Sins, a story of scandals in a small town.
Getting lost for several hours during a brief stay near the abandoned military base scared me into writing The Ghosts of Fort Ord.
My nonfiction novel, Helga: Growing Up in Hitler's Germany, is based on my interview of a former member of the Jugend, Hitler's child army.
My many overnight weekend getaways on the famous Queen Mary has me busily writing The Ghosts of the Queen Mary. I look forward to publishing it in the autumn 2014.
I love to hear from readers of my books. Email me, follow me on twitter, or friend me on Facebook. Click here for my in-depth Q/A interview on Smashwords!
June 9, 2014
Local Author's Nonfiction Novel About Hitler's Child Army
Helga: Growing Up in Hitler's Germany is the title of Carlsbad resident Karen Truesdell Riehl's latest eBook, scheduled for release July 7 on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and other eBook publishers.
The nonfiction novel is based on the author's interview of a former member of the Jugend, Hitler's child army. All persons and events are true to Helga's childhood memories. Only the dialog has been fictionalized, using the dramatic techniques of a novel. Except for Helga's first name, the names of family and friends have been changed to respect the privacy of those still living with the memories.
Click here for a brief audio excerpt of my interview with Helga on YouTube.
When the author met her in 1977, Helga was an elementary school librarian, a 1948 German immigrant. When asked about her experience during the war, she quietly revealed she had been a "Jugend," a member of Hitler's child army, "trained to revere and obey the Fuhrer." When Riehl asked how children were recruited, she replied, "Clever seduction."
Helga's seduction begins with an invitation she cannot refuse. The ten-year-old is ordered to attend weekly meetings of the Hitler Youth movement. Lies and tasty treats are employed to entice her allegiance to the Fuhrer. Helga is sent away to youth training camps as the war draws nearer her home in Berlin. She is caught between loyalty to her family, suffering under Nazi rule, and loyalty to the Fuhrer, who keeps her safe and well-fed. Helga's gradual disillusionment, followed by her harrowing escape home, is a powerful coming-of-age story of a young girl's survival of Nazi mind control.
Readers' Favorite Review:
Helga: Growing Up in Hitler's Germany is a major and valuable addition to World War II literature. It's most highly recommended. Jack Magnus
A free sample download of Helga: Growing Up in Hitler's Germany is available at Smashwords.com