Monday, 6 August 2012

Accidental Captives

Finished August 6
Accidental Captives: the story of seven women alone in Nazi Germany by Carolyn Gossage

This is an interesting nugget of history I wasn't aware of until I heard of this book. The women were on an Egyptian ship bound for South Africa. On the ship were missionaries bound for Africa, women and children on their way to join their husbands, US tobacco farmers, and volunteer ambulance workers volunteering with the Free French army. This book concentrates on the Canadian women on board, and follows them from the beginning of the trip, through the bombing of the ship by Germans, the capturing of all those on board, their landing in occupied France, and their internment in Germany. Seven of the Canadian women went on to get permission to travel to Berlin to try to secure their release, and this book follows them through the months in Berlin and their trip home.
Using official documents, books published by a couple of the women, articles by a life journalist and photographer on board the ship, and family documents of the women, Gossage is able to piece together this amazing story. Four of the women had written down at least parts of their story, and these help us to see the reality of their lives through these difficult months. One of the four had two small children with her, and chose not to leave the internment home for the uncertainty of Berlin, a wise move in retrospect. The ones who did make it to Berlin showed adventure, stamina, and a sense of optimism that got them through, making friends with the locals, and finding lighter moments even in the midst of disappointment.
Well-researched, this book gives us a view into another part of history.


  1. I've never heard about these women before, so it sounds fascinating.

  2. I too have never heard of this. I must look this one up. Oh Shonna your list of good books keeps growing on my shelf. Thanks.

  3. I hadn't heard about it either until I saw this book in a publisher catalog.