Everything We Don't Recall (Alles, was wir nicht erinnern)
by Christiane Hoffmann
Published in February 2022 by C. H. Beck Verlag. 279 pages long.
Christiane Hoffmann retraces the journey her father had to take as a nine-year-old boy during the Second World War, when the Russians were closing in on the Germans. His family and the entire village of Rosenthal, Silesia (now Różyna in eastern Poland) left their homes and travelled 550km west to Klinghart (Križovatka), now at the far western border of the Czech Republic. She walks the route herself, starting on the same day of the year, 22 January, but in 2020 rather than 1945. As she goes, she talks to local people to find out what they know of all the Germans who travelled through at that time. Almost a fifth of all Germans were refugees by the end of the war, either fleeing from Soviet invasion or being forced to move when the Allies redrew the Poland/Germany border. There are personal stories from the people who now inhabit the areas she passes through, many of them themselves refugees from further east who fled and were told to resettle in the villages deserted by German families. A moving, fascinating journey, told beautifully.