Book Review: Trapped in Hitler’s Hell

Trapped in Hitler’s Hell
by Anita Dittman with Jan Markell

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Memoir

Anita Dittman was a child living with her family in Germany when Hitler and the Nazis started to make life increasingly difficult for Jewish people. Anita, her mother, and her sister were Jewish, while her father was not. He abandoned them to save himself, and though Anita’s sister managed to escape to England, Anita and her mother were moved into a ghetto, and later, work camps. As a Christian Jew, Anita found comfort in her relationship with Jesus, even before she really understood what it meant to have that relationship. Her story is told in Trapped in Hitler’s Hell.

I have read accounts of Jewish people and resistance workers in countries that were occupied by the Nazis, but I believe this is the first I’ve read of a Jewish family living right in Germany. Anita and her mother had some protection because of Anita’s non-Jewish father and because Anita and, eventually, her mother were Christians, but life was still difficult and dangerous, and much worse lay ahead.

While books like this can often make the reader question, “What would I do if this happened to me?” the question this most brought to my mind was, “How can I be as trusting and faithful with my witness in my life right now as she was during such hard times?” Though often told to stop talking about Jesus, Anita just couldn’t help herself, so great was her love for God. And no matter what bad thing happened, she would always be the first to express that God was still in charge. I do wonder about the wisdom of her tendency to always assume that God would keep her and everyone she was with safe and intact, since God does not promise earthly safety, especially during times of persecution. Not that he doesn’t ever keep someone protected, alive, even healthy, against all odds, but if we believe that will always be the case and it’s not, will our faith be shaken? Despite that concern, this book is worth reading for anyone interested in Holocaust accounts, especially those from a Christian worldview.

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