Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany

Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14) ​ 13:45 Aug 18-28 1 hour

eleanorsstoryEleanor Ramrath Garner’s best-selling memoir of her youth, adapted for the stage and performed by her granddaughter Ingrid.

In 1939, when she is nine, Eleanor’s family moves from a comfortable and fairly happy life in America to Germany. Her Father has been tempted by the offer of an Engineering job and a very favourable exchnage rate. He dismisses the idea that Hitler will go to war because, in his view, it would make no sense to threaten the newfound strength of the German economy. He ignores the gathering stormclouds which come through in the production in radio broadcasts and announcements. Just as the family is crossing the Atlantic war breaks out between Germany, France and Britain. The family are trapped as all their money has been put into German marks and no one will change them back. Ingrid does a fine job of depicting seven years into a one hour show covering a lot of ground but not just skimming through. The viciousness of anti-semitism is illustrated by a small story of Eleanor’s brother being berated for giving up his seat to an elderly Jewish woman. It’s these small episodes that say so much about the wider picture. The focus is very much on the Eleanor and her family but through her eyes you can see the horror slowly unfold. The family face great challenges as America enters the war and as the Germans begin to suffer loss after loss. The terror of Soviet occupation of Berlin and the rapes, starvation and brutality that accompanied it are vividly portrayed.

It’s a gripping and unusual show that shows the confusion, terror and development of a young girl caught up in traumatic and world shaking events.

Reviewed by Patrick Harrington

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