Angels of Ebermannstadt: The Journey of An Honored Soldier, a Daughter, and Life's Greatest Lessons of Faith and Friendship
A moving read and a wonderful tribute
On the 60th anniversary of D-Day, Charlene Quint Kalebic accompanied her father on a trip back to the German village he helped liberate, the shores of Normandy, and Belgium. Along the way, she learned some of her father's war story. Charlene subtitles her book The Journey of an Honored Soldier, a Daughter, and Life's Greatest Lessons of Faith and Friendship. Landing in Normandy just days after the first wave of D-Day Richard Quint, a medic who had lied about his age in order to serve, had kept silent for sixty years about his war experience. As he and Charlene's family retrace many of his steps, Charlene learns much about how her father had been "a light that shined even in the darkness of war," a man who kept his promises across oceans and years.
The book's title Angels of Ebermannstadt refers to a photograph Richard had taken in a small liberated German village. In the photograph are 8 young girls all dressed in white; obviously having just celebrated their first communions. The young, lonely soldier snapped the photo, thinking the joyous scene was a sure sign that God still reigned. He even felt the little girls were angels unaware. The girls and their families, he learned later looked similarly upon the liberating Americans.
I read the majority of this book as we traveled the four hour trip home from our northwoods cabin. I kept turning down the radio and reading segments out loud to my husband. Charlene Quint Kalebic's observations about honor, faith, kindness, and gratitude are moving. That those little girls in the photograph today, women in their sixties and seventies, would still see Richard as a hero is eye opening. Their reflections on the war gave me a much clearer picture of what ordinary Germans faced during that time. In this little village, all the grown men were gone, forced to serve in the military. One girl's mother refused to greet others with that Nazi greeting we've all heard and seen in movies; for that refusal, she was slated to be sent to a concentration camp, leaving her children virtually orphans. She was saved when a neighbor told the authorities that her refusal was simply a result of mental weakness. (Actually, she is lucky she wasn't sent away for that!) Another little girl in the photo had been born with one arm. Again she was slated for movement to a concentration camp, as the master race could not accept or love a flawed specimen. It was the priest and nuns who kept her hidden until the village was liberated by Richard's unit. It was then that the all the girls were safe to observe first communion.
I received a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are mine.
April 17, 2013