Too Late for Tears

Born in 1914 just prior to WWI in a small town in Austria, a young Valerie is determined to escape the modest background of her family. Early twentieth-century convention and financial circumstances limit her career choices, and she reluctantly follows her father’s footsteps to become a teacher. Faced with the first real dilemma of her young life, she bravely deals with adversity and mishap, and when during her time as student she becomes familiar with the Nazi underground movement, she wisely resists joining. In March 1938, Valerie and many people in Austria are confounded by the Anschluss, Hitler’s forced annexation of Austria, which renders the country part of Germany. It is during this time in her life that Valerie believes to have realized her dreams, when in September 1939, World War II breaks out, an event destined to end in worldwide cataclysm, though at the time no one thought, or dared to think, of it as such. For the first few years, the German Army is remarkably successful until hopes for a peaceful conclusion are dashed by Hitler’s ruthless blunders and the Russian winter. Valerie’s story closely follows the war years in historic detail through its catastrophic end, the ten-year Allied occupation and post-war challenges. Conditions gradually return to normal, and Valerie feels content with her life until she suddenly faces events that even her lifelong strength and determination cannot overcome.

--Eleanor Cripps