Giselle Roeder’s book juxtaposes the horrors of war with childhood innocence.

Giselle Roeder’s book juxtaposes the horrors of war with childhood innocence.

Book touches on dark memories

Giselle Roeder signs copies of her book on June 27 at the RBC located at Woodgrove Shopping Centre from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

When the Second World War ended and the Iron Curtain drew over Eastern Europe many people escaped to the democratic West any way they could and for Giselle Roeder that meant experiencing the sensation of flying for the very first time.

“Most people were put in a train that never stopped to West Germany from East Germany, but I flew,“ Roeder recalled about her 1955 escape to West Germany. “I thought it was incredible to look down over East Germany and know they could shoot you down.”

Roeder’s escape is just one of a handful of memories documented in her newest book, We Don’t Talk About That: An Amazing Story of Survival.

“It reads like a novel,” Roeder said about the book. “It is the life of ordinary families, during the rise of Hitler’s time and how we all learned to shut up because we would be put in concentration camp, it didn’t matter what religion you were. You didn’t need to be a Jew to go to the concentration camp.”

Roeder, who now resides in the Harbour City, will be signing copies of her book at Woodgrove Centre on Friday (June 27).

“We didn’t talk about things because we didn’t know who was an informer and the same thing happened all over again in … in East Germany,” Roeder said.

We Don’t Talk About That chronicles life in Germany after the First World War as well as life during and after the Second World War. The book focuses around a little German girl named Gila, who is forced to escape East Germany and struggles to find her footing in West Germany. Although the book details the horrors of war, it also contains moments of innocence.

“I always add innocent childhood memories, not to make it too hard on the reader,” Roeder said. “The reader will laugh, they will chuckle, and maybe at one time they will also cry … especially when the Russians come in and all that rape was going on.”

While writing the book, Roeder experienced frequent nightmares and often found herself re-living the horrific events.

“The worst nightmare I ever had was when we were evicted the first time and we were walking over this field, where they [Russians and Germans] had been fighting the day before and there were bodies lying around,” she said.

Roeder signs copies of her book on Friday at the RBC branch in Woodgrove Centre from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

For more information, please visit

arts@nanaimobulletin.comTwitter: @npescod


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