65 years after starting her diary it has been translated into English by her sister. It chronicles her life in Nazi Germany when as a child she was evacuated to escape the allied bombing. At the end of the war at age 16 she was forced to cross a war-torn nation in order to get home. Family photographs, contemporary news articles, maps, and a timeline of events have been added.
Hilke's Diary is a battered, chintz-covered little book with a flowery pattern, its lock (once so important to its young owner) long since broken. It has survived an incredible near-seventy years, and was the inseparable companion of a little German girl throughout the Second World War. Hilke was evacuated from Hamburg and separated from her family; in 1940 she was placed with her uncle and aunt in Meisenheim, then later (in 1942) she was sent to an estate as a companion for a little girl. Her siblings were also sent away, split up in the desperation to place them somewhere safe as bombing on Hamburg intensified with the firestorm in 1943. In 1944 Hilke was sent to a boarding school on Lake Constance, hundreds of miles from home, and when the war ended the school closed and the pupils were left on the streets with just a handful of money, no papers and no responsible adult to help them get home. Hilke then embarked on a long journey across Germany to find her family, unsure whether they had even survived the bombing. Her childhood diary was her one confidant along her arduous journey home.