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Synopsis

In April 1941, an Egyptian passenger ship sailing from New York to Cape Town was attacked and sunk by a German raider in the South Atlantic. The passengers were pulled from the waters and transported to Nazioccupied France, where the majority, as neutral citizens of the United States, were released and returned home. News of their fortunate escape soon broke and the story became an overnight sensation. Yet amidst the excitement generated by the captives’ release, the fate of those left behind was all but forgotten. Among these unlucky few were seven Canadian women, whose remarkable wartime journey was only just beginning. Interned in German detention camps as ‘enemy aliens’, they were eventually moved to Berlin, to await repatriation. But in a rare and uncharacteristic bureaucratic mix up when they arrived, this small group of ‘enemy aliens’ found themselves alone, stranded in the heart of Hitler’s Germany. The accidental captives had no way home: abandoned, destitute and without permanent lodgings, the story of these seven strangers and their survival is one of the most remarkable stories of life behind enemy lines during World War II. Drawing on firsthand accounts, as well as her own interviews with surviving relatives of these remarkable women, Carolyn Gossage pieces together the extraordinary story of the year they spent together in wartime Germany. Who were these seven strangers, thrown together by fate and circumstance to live through a unique World War II experience? How did they survive Hitler’s internment camps, the warravaged streets of Berlin and the threat of the omnipresent Gestapo? The nervewracking survival of these accidental captives in the midst of the triumphant and later wartorn Nazi capital makes for gripping reading. In the process, the portrait which emerges of wartime Berlin provides a fascinating insight of daytoday life at the heart of the Hitler's Reich.

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