April 1945. World War II is coming to an end. American troops arrive in a village in the center of Germany. The people are relieved, glad that the Americans arrived before the Russians. But three months later the area is turned over to Soviet Occupation Forces. There is shock and disbelief among the people.
Germany is divided into four occupation zones: Soviet, British, American and French. The Soviet Zone is gradually developing into a Communist country, closing the borders to the Free West. It is the beginning of the Iron Curtain era.
Communist pressure and indoctrination start almost immediately as the Soviet Zone is now a satellite of the USSR. The air is filled with terror and fear.
Christine, seventeen years old, wants to flee to the free west. Her father is still not home from the war. Her mother does not want to leave. Christine is torn about leaving her family behind, but feels that she must. I can’t breathe here, she says.
The detailed accounts of the daily life of a family hold the reader’s attention to the end. We are living a part of Christine’s life, feel her struggle, her yearning for freedom as she lives daily under the iron fist of Soviet occupation. After several dramatic failed attempts to flee to the West, she finally succeeds.
The Iron Curtain, later the Wall, between East and West Germany, finally came down in 1989.