The astonishing true journey of Trudi Kanter, an Austrian Jew, whose courage, resourcefulness, and perseverance kept both her and her beloved safe during the Nazi invasion is a rediscovered masterpiece.
In London, in 1984, Trudi Kanter’s remarkable memoir was published by N. Spearman. Largely unread, it went out of print until it was re-discovered by a British editor in 2011 and now, for the first time, it is available to readers everywhere.
In 1938, Trudi Miller, stunningly beautiful, chic, and charismatic, was a hat designer for the best-dressed women in Vienna. She frequented cafes. She had suitors. She flew to Paris to see the latest fashions. And she fell deeply in love with Walter Ehrlich, a charming and romantic businessman. But as Hitler’s tanks roll into Austria, the world this young Jewish couple knows and loves collapses leaving them desperate to find a way to survive.
Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler is an enchanting true story that moves from Vienna to Prague to blitzed London, as Trudi seeks safety for her and Walter amid the horror engulfing Europe. In prose that cuts straight to the bone, Trudi Kanter has shared her indelible story. Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler is destined to become a World War II classic.
When I first heard the title Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler, I expected it to be a story of some girls wearing hats (a special uniform?) fighting Hitler in some way or using hats to do so. It turned out to be that of a resourceful woman milliner escaping the 1938 Nazi invasion of Austria.
The book is not as heart-wrenching and sad as many of those written by Jews who escaped persecution. As Kanter describes mundane things that belonged to Vienna of that era, there is a sense of loss and helplessness.
However, she does not dwell on it because she has things to do, some of which are rescuing herself, her husband, and her parents and surviving in a heavily bombarded England. She goes on to explain breezily how she did them.
Kanter describes people, fashion, food, culture, and architecture quite vividly. She discusses hope, yearning, and despair too. Sometimes her descriptions are more that of an observer’s than of someone who experienced these things.
You encounter so many interesting characters in this book. However, Kanter focuses on how they were helpful to her. Although this makes her seem shallow, it may be her way of showing appreciation. Whatever you may think of it, you cannot deny that this story, though different and unique, is also a great example of what Jews had to endure during WWII and how many of them managed to survive.