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“It was very dangerous for him, and he knew it. But his love for me was stronger than fear.” - Ilse Stein
This novel is based on the inspiring and moving love story of Ilse Stein, a German Jew, and Willy Schultz, a Luftwaffe Captain in the Minsk ghetto, who risked his life to save the one he loved the most.
When the last of the Jews’ rights are stripped in 1941, Ilse’s family is deported to a Minsk ghetto. Confined to a Sonderghetto and unable to speak the locals’ language, Ilse struggles to support the surviving members of her family. Befriended by a local underground member Rivka, Ilse partakes in small acts of resistance and sabotage to help her fellow Jews escape to the partisans.
A few months later, after losing almost his entire brigade of workers to one of the bloodiest massacres conducted by the SS, a local administrative officer Willy Schultz summons the survivors to form a new brigade. Ilse’s good looks immediately catch his eye, and he makes her a leader of the new unit and later, an office worker. Soon, an unlikely romance blossoms amid death and gore, moving a Nazi officer to go to great risks to protect not only Ilse but as many others as possible and allowing a Jewish girl to open her heart to the former enemy. Knowing that the ghetto would soon be liquidated, Willy Schultz swears to save Ilse, even if the cost would be his own life.
“We live together, or we die together,” - an ultimate oath of love in the most harrowing setting.
Dark, haunting, but full of hope, “No Woman’s Land” is a testament to the love that is stronger than fear and death itself.
"The first and most important thing to say about Ellie Midwood, and by extension her intensely appealing historical novel No Woman's Land: A Holocaust Novel, is that this author's fine writing skills are superbly well honed. Any seasoned reader will immediately recognize a master at her craft, one both naturally gifted and creatively experienced, while the deepest pleasure desired by any avid reader, that derived from fully inhabiting a truly gripping, fascinating, and compelling story, rapidly seeps into a last conscious thought: I can relax now. With such good writing, I can sit here, without effort, and thoroughly enjoy a marvelous ride. Ms. Midwood's writing is intensely evocative, bringing vividly to life a time and place seen with stark reality by those fated to be there and then. This author has a deeply satisfying sense of the dramatic, choosing perfect details to augment her action, with a perfect ear for dialogue, and an ultra-keen eye for descriptive detail. Add to this her retention of a commonly and rapidly fading ability to write complex sentences without sacrificing readability or flow, and as I said, you have a master at her craft. With a truly grand novel to her credit." - Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
"No Woman's Land: A Holocaust Novel by Ellie Midwood is the story of one woman's fight to stay alive during one of the most horrifying periods in human history. It is hard to put into words how much No Woman's Land affected me. Like Thomas Keneally's Schindler's Ark, this novel does not gloss over the oppression faced by the Jewish people, nor the cruelty. Considered vermin, they were treated like vermin. This is a painfully honest book and one that it is utterly compelling. Told in the first person, from Ilse's perspective, meant that I felt her pain as if it were mine. Her bravery and her determination to stay alive and to help those closest to her stay alive is a testament in itself to this woman's courage. The things that Ilse has to face, the loss she suffers, left me in tears on more than one occasion. And unlike a fictional telling of the Holocaust, No Woman's Land is based on real people, and the story is true, which makes this book a very personal and emotional account of this horrific time. Although the setting of this book is harrowing, there is also a tender forbidden romance within its pages. Leutnant Schultz and Ilse's pledge, "We live together, or we die together," is so incredibly poignant because if it were found out that they were in love, then death awaited them both. He was a Nazi and she a Jewess. And yet their love would not be denied. Even amongst the fear and death, Midwood gives us this incredible sense of the deepest of loves. Her ability to weave a love story against such a bleak background, and to make it romantic, even when there was no opportunity for romance demonstrates perfectly why Midwood's books are always met with such rapturous applause and eager anticipation. Midwood's attention to not only the historical setting but the portrayal of the historical characters has to be commended. Midwood has this ability to resurrect people who have been dead for years and breathe life back into them with her writing. I cannot write this review without mentioning the lengths Leutnant Schultz was prepared to go to in order to save Ilse's life. His courage to go against his Party and his government, when he was so used to obeying orders, reminds us that there are always good people in the world, even when it seems that only evil resides. Beautifully written and wholly unforgettable. No Woman's Land deserves the broadest possible readership to make sure we do not forget the horrors of the Holocaust and those who survived it. I Highly Recommend." - Mary Anne Yarde, The Coffee Pot Book Club
"What endeared me most to this novel is that it's based on a true story of a Luftwaffe Officer that fell in love with a German Jew amidst the violence and terror at a Minsk ghetto. How one can find love in such a horrifying place it's hard to fathom, but I think this quote from Ilse explains it perfectly: "It can be my corpse that a black SS boot shoves into a new pit tomorrow and I want to die a woman who's known love at least for a few stolen moments." No Woman's Land was a beautiful, chilling, terrifying, and hopeful. I loved every second I spent with this book and cannot wait for more from Ellie Midwood!" - Amy Bruno, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
"This is a superb love story and compelling human drama set amid some of the vilest atrocities the world has ever witnessed... one of the most powerful pieces of wartime fiction I've ever read. A truly excellent read." - K.C. Finn, Readers' Favorite
"This book, for me, was on the level of reading Night by Elie Wiesel. Reading this book catapulted me to being in the camp with Ilse. You could feel the unspoken thoughts between herself and Willy before it was even really recognized as if you were watching two of your friends fall in love in real life. You held your breath when there were orders to downsize the camp or people stuck their necks out to improve the lives of others. I smiled, I sighed of relief, I held my breath, I cried. This book gave me all the feels and chills. Hands down, a five star must-read of 2019." - Sarah, Books In Their Natural Habitat
"...while the beautifully delivered love story was as touching as it gets, it was Midwood's riveting descriptions of the inhumanity of the SS to the German and Russian Jews that made me choke up... As a reader, I felt I was watching the nearly frozen Jewish women lugging wood to heat the German officers' offices. I could better see that German officer who liked children tossing them candies in the death pits while they waited to be massacred. And I could better feel Ilse's own hopelessness as she and her suffering women friends faced each new day wondering if this was their last. What a horrid way to live month after month for no reason other than you are a Jew. Haunting and mind-blowing!" - Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite