BY ELLIE MIDWOOD
Publication Date: May 31, 2019
eBook; 368 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
“It was very dangerous for him, and he knew it. But his love for me was stronger than fear.” – Ilse Stein
This novel is based on the inspiring and moving love story of Ilse Stein, a German Jew, and Willy Schultz, a Luftwaffe Captain in the Minsk ghetto, who risked his life to save the one he loved the most.
When the last of the Jews’ rights are stripped in 1941, Ilse’s family is deported to a Minsk ghetto. Confined to a Sonderghetto and unable to speak the locals’ language, Ilse struggles to support the surviving members of her family. Befriended by a local underground member Rivka, Ilse partakes in small acts of resistance and sabotage to help her fellow Jews escape to the partisans.
A few months later, after losing almost his entire brigade of workers to one of the bloodiest massacres conducted by the SS, a local administrative officer Willy Schultz summons the survivors to form a new brigade. Ilse’s good looks immediately catch his eye, and he makes her a leader of the new unit and later, an office worker. Soon, an unlikely romance blossoms amid death and gore, moving a Nazi officer to go to great risks to protect not only Ilse but as many others as possible and allowing a Jewish girl to open her heart to the former enemy. Knowing that the ghetto would soon be liquidated, Willy Schultz swears to save Ilse, even if the cost would be his own life.
“We live together, or we die together,” – an ultimate oath of love in the most harrowing setting.
Dark, haunting, but full of hope, “No Woman’s Land” is a testament to the love that is stronger than fear and death itself.
AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE | KOBO
Ilse Stein and her family are Germans in 1941. That is, until the rights of the German Jews are stripped, leaving them without land, without a home. Ilse and her sisters are transported to the Minsk Ghetto. The trip was difficult and they are left with nothing in the Minsk winter. Determined that her and her sister will survive, Ilse works diligently at the tasks given to her by the people who took everything away. While in the Ghetto Ilse befriends Rivka, a member of the underground resistance. Ilse begins to take part in small acts of resistance to help their survival. However, after a massacre of most of their work group performed by the SS, hope seems lost. A Luftwaffe officer, Willy Shultz takes over the group and shows favor toward Ilse. Willy does everything he can to keep them together and offers Ilse food and clothing to take back to the girls. As Ilse and Willy spend time together, their affection grows. However, the situation they are in has tremendous consequences for their emotions. Ilse and Willy must find out how to navigate much more than their feelings for each other as the war rages on and their futures become unclear.
Based on a true story, No Woman's Land is an emotional historical romance. Right from the beginning, the slow spread of hate and anti-Antisemitism is shown through Ilse's eyes. The writing shows the gradual but deliberate spread of hate and how easily it caught on and and became normalized to make an entire people were made to feel less than others and eventually kill them off. Unfortunately, this is still a good lesson for today. As Ilse watches what is happening around her, she is upset at being treated differently, but feels thankful at times that she isn't treated as poorly as other Jews. Once Ilse and her family were moved out of their homes, the writing very accurately portrayed what people went through in transport and in the Ghetto. The pogroms in the Ghettos were bloody, violent and senseless. Ilse, Willy and Rivka showed tremendous strength and hope through the worst of times. I was fascinated to learn about the amazing members of the Resistance within the Ghetto and the surrounding towns as well as the German soldiers who used their power to help where they could. Ilse and Willy's love grew gradually in the darkest of times and in the sweetest of ways; the effortless writing conveyed the magnitude of the many emotions seamlessly. Overall, No Woman's Land is an astounding story of hope, bravery, resistance, resilience and love.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Ellie Midwood is a best-selling, award-winning historical fiction writer. She’s a health-obsessed yoga enthusiast, a neat freak, an adventurer, Nazi Germany history expert, polyglot, philosopher, a proud Jew and a doggie mama.
Ellie lives in New York with her fiancé and their Chihuahua named Shark Bait.
Readers’ Favorite – winner in the Historical Fiction category (2016) – “The Girl from Berlin: Standartenfuhrer’s Wife”
Readers’ Favorite – winner in the Historical Fiction category (2016) – “The Austrian” (honorable mention)
New Apple – 2016 Award for Excellence in Independent Publishing – “The Austrian” (official selection)
For more information on Ellie and her novels, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads.