Skating at the Edge of the Wood
Memories of East Prussia, 1931-1945... 1993
by Marlene Yeo
In 1944, the thirteen-year old author has to flee her home in East Prussia and embark on a horrific trek to the West, avoiding the Red Army's ethnic cleansing. She leaves behind many happy memories, but also a best friend: her cousin Jutta, caught behind the Iron Curtain. The letters they exchange at that time, amplified by postwar comments, cast light on the experience of ordinary German farmers caught up in the horrendous circumstances and aftermath of the Second World War's Eastern Front.
Fifty years later, the advent of perestroika allows Marlene and Jutta to meet again, after a lifetime of growing up under diametrically opposed societies, and Marlene revisits her childhood home. The book closes with a final chapter revealing what she finds.
Despite depicting the same time and circumstances as Reflections in an Oval Mirror, an account written by Marlene's elder sister, Anneli, and its sequel Carpe Diem, this work stands in stark contrast partly owing to the age gap between the two girls, but above all because of their dramatically different characters.
||Royal Octavo paperback
||8 March 2015
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||8 March 2019
This book was originally written in English, for English readers. It has however also been translated into German, as Schlittschuhlaufen am Waldrand.
Some links for those seeking more information on the topics and locations mentioned in this book:
- Google Map of Marlene's trek - http://j.mp/MarleneTrek
- Evacuation of East Prussia - Wikipedia
- Eastern Front (World War I) - Wikipedia
- Eastern Front (World War II) - Wikipedia
- Detailed 1937 map of Mikalbude area, overlaid on modern Google/Yandex/OpenStreet maps.
- Detailed 1937 map of Mikalbude area - as above. This version is in Russian, but also offers contemporary photographs from the area.
- More maps: lots of high quality geo-referenced maps of East Prussia and surrounding areas through history
- Russian maps of Germany throughout history - particularly good views of the changing Eastern Front, 1941-44
- Large Soviet map of Suchkovo area - direct link to detailed map (to find Anneli's childhood home, look for the 54°20' Polish/CCCP border at the right edge, then head west just above the 28' line to find the Олёхово (Olyokhovo) settlement and then Сучково (Suchkovo = Mikalbude) just to its eastern side.
- Grieben / Olyokhovo / Олёхово in Wikipedia (German & Russian) - where the Mukhina family live, now the closest settlement to Mikalbude
- Prussian/German/Russian placenames
- Meyer's Gazetteer - lists and descriptions of old placenames
- Further reading on East Prussia (UK) - a list on Amazon UK list of selected / suggested books as in the bibliography, both in English and German
- Further reading on East Prussa (international) - a 'geo-targeted' list of general books relating to East Prussia on your local Amazon site (including the UK but also US, DE, FR, etc.)
- There are several neutral groups on social networks sharing memories, pictures and so on, e.g. Tolerantes Ostpreussen (Facebook)
- There are also many websites relating to East Prussian history & culture — e.g. ostpreussen.de (in German) or exulanten.com (in English) — but some of the websites, books, videos and the organizations behind them seem to have a strong right-wing bias (e.g. highlighting Soviet atrocities and German suffering only), so they should be viewed with great caution.
- Skating at the Edge of the Wood - http://j.mp/SkatingYeo - a short link to this page, if you want to share it