By Ramona du Houx
Recently, books based in Germany during the Nazi takeover in WWII have featured teens finding ways to survive the occupation. Most notably The Book Thief by Markus Zusak’s became a bestseller and movie. In the book a young teen-age girl, Liesel Meminger lives outside of Munich, forced to steal food for survival. With the help of her foster father she learns to read and begins to steal books. These gems of humanity become food for the souls that she shares them with— her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.
Just during this past year All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, a tale about a blind French girl on the run who encounters a German orphan-turned-resistance tracker on a train, has gained a following. The most recent The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah follows two French sisters fighting to bring their country and family through World War II.
These New York Times bestsellers are all works of fiction.
In My Tainted Blood, a true story, the author hides to avoid capture during WWII.
In My Tainted Blood the author, a German Jew teenager, has to hide himself and his loved ones to avoid capture during WWII. This 400 page tuner is based on the true-life story of Hubert C. Kueter.
My Tainted Blood follows Hubert as a boy and teenager in wartime Breslau and postwar Germany. People’s names have been changed but the circumstances are all too real.
One wonders how Kueter can outwit so many adults, to keep the love his life along with his mother and himself alive. The young teen turns surviving in WWII’s Germany into an adventure and writes about his exploits with wit and humor. But the memoirs haunt him still. The injustices, outright discrimination growing up before Nazi occupation and then fearing for his life and the lives of his loved ones on the run from possible internment is not something one easily forgets.
“It’ll always be with me,” said Kueter. “It’s my life.”
In My Tainted Blood Hubert also imparts insights into German Jews, their unrequited love of Germany and his unexpected friendship with an African American soldier.
The incorporation of the author’s love of cooking, at a time when he had to forage for food under the Nazi regime, adds a unique dimension to the chronicle.
With Anti-Semitic incidents occurring throughout Europe Kueter believes the book should now be translated into German.
“We must never forget,” he said. “I believe it is my responsibility to tell my story in the hope of bringing more awareness and understanding about a difficult time in our history.”
Kueter comes from a family of brave souls. His great aunt, the chemist Clara Immerwahr, was the first woman to earn a degree in Germany and was well known women’s rights activist. She died in 1915.
The novel was first published in 2009 by Polar Bear & Company of Solon, Maine and the publisher would like to do the translation edition as well.
“Hubert Kueter’s accomplishment in this memoir is a unique literary triumph, but it is as well a vivid account of the strength of the human spirit.”
– Ferdinand Jones, PhD, professor emeritus of Psychology, Brown University
“With a large dose of humor, Hubert Kueter has written a fascinating book that is hard to put down. The experience of people with mixed background in Nazi Germany is an area of great interest to historians, and this account will contribute to it. But the book offers much more. It is written with a wit and elegance that reveal a remarkable talent. Kueter relishes in his schemes to outwit the Nazis, and he takes every opportunity to reveal his passion for culinary intricacies, which he describes in vivid prose.”
–Raffael Scheck, PhD, Chair, Department of History, Colby College
About the Author:
Hubert C. Kueter, born 1930 in Breslau, Germany, received his PhD in Germanic languages and literature at the University of Michigan. He taught German language and literature at Colby College from 1965 to 1997. During the first ten years at Colby, he enjoyed working part time as a certified ski instructor at Sugarloaf USA.