Ashes Cover

Ashes

Berlin, 1932: In many ways thirteen-year-old Gabriella Schramm lives a charmed, carefree life. She loves her parents and her sister, Ulla. She loves her new literature teacher. She loves her family’s summer lake house, next door to Albert Einstein’s. And most of all, Gaby loves books. But soon she begins losing these things as Hitler unstoppably climbs to power.

ASHES has been selected as one of Bank Street College of Education Best Books of the Year. And it got outstanding merit!!

Berlin, 1932: In many ways thirteen-year-old Gabriella Schramm lives a charmed, carefree life. She loves her parents and her sister, Ulla. She loves her new literature teacher. She loves her family’s summer lake house, next door to Albert Einstein’s. And most of all, Gaby loves books.

But soon she begins losing these things as Hitler unstoppably climbs to power. People Gaby thought she could trust turn out to be Nazis. Many of her friends are fleeing, or, worse, being taken away. And there’s something troubling about Ulla’s boyfriend that Gaby can’t quite figure out. As always, she turns to her books for comfort—but even those are disappearing.

Newbery Honor winner and master of historical fiction Kathryn Lasky once again brings the past to life with this searing portrait of a nation on the brink of war, and a girl whose life is about to change.

I wanted to write a book about those crucial days beginning when Hitler became chancellor and culminating on May 10 with the Berlin book burning. We see those days through the eyes of one family. The family is the Schramms, upper middle class, NOT Jewish. The father Max Schramm is a professor of astronomy at Humboldt University, the University of Berlin.

As a note here: much of my information came from my husband’s 91 year old architecture professor, Gerhard Kallman. He is Jewish and attended Humboldt University. He told me no one thought that the Nazi party and their outrageous ‘antics’ would last. It was really believed the Nazis would just disappear, even after Hitler became chancellor. No one took it “seriously”. It simply couldn’t be happening. Luckily for Gerhard his father did take it seriously and they got out in 1934. Gerhard was a terrific source of information and remembered this spring of 1933. He told a story of SS troops and SA troops lining the walls of one lecture hall that winter when a famous Jewish professor came as a visiting lecturer. They tried to take the names of all the students who attended the lecture.

I have not seen any book  focusing on  the book burnings, yet so many documentary films  about Nazi Germany begin with images of those pyres of books in flames in Berlin and conclude with the plumes of smoke coming from the chimneys of the death camps-- a grisly testimony to Heinrich Heine's words "Where books are burned, in the end people will be burned."

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