Aimee and Jaguar: A Love Story, Berlin 1943

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9780060183509: Aimee and Jaguar: A Love Story, Berlin 1943

Berlin 1942. Lilly Wust, twenty-nine, married, four children, led a life as did millions of German women. But then she met the twenty-one-year-old Felice Schragenheim.

It was love almost at first sight. Aimée (Lilly) and Jaguar (Felice) started forging plans for the future. They composed poems and love letters to each other, and wrote their own marriage contract. When Jaguar admitted to her lover that she was Jewish, this dangerous secret drew the two women even closer to each other. But their luck didn't last. On August 21, 1944, Jaguar was arrested and deported.

At the age of eighty, Lilly Wust told her story to Erica Fischer, who turned it into a poignant testimony. After the book appeared in 1994 she was contacted by additional contemporaries of Aimée and Jaguar who offered new material that has been integrated into the present edition.

The book, translated into twenty languages, and the film based on it—directed by Max Färberböck, with Juliane Köhler and Maria Schrader in the leading roles—have made Aimée and Jaguar's story known around the world.

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Review:

Acclaimed in Germany and England, this tragic and remarkable real-life love story won a Lambda Literary Award when it was first published in America in 1995. Lilly Wust ("Aimée") was a conventional middle-class mother of four, estranged from her philandering husband, when she met Felice Schragenheim ("Jaguar") in 1941. Their passionate affair unfolded against the backdrop of the deportation of Jews from Berlin, but several months passed before Felice could even bring herself to tell Lilly that she was Jewish and living illegally on the streets. "I knew, of course, what it meant," Lilly recalled in old age. "Not for a moment did I think that I too could be in danger. On the contrary, all I wanted to do now was to save her." Lilly's heroic efforts to conceal and protect Felice through the next two years make for painful and inspiring reading. Felice was arrested in August 1944 and sent her last letter to Lilly four months later. In 1981 Lilly was awarded the German Federal Service Cross, though no one could read this as a happy ending. --Regina Marler

About the Author:

Erica Fischer was born in 1943 in England. Her parents were refugees there and returned to Austria with their two children in 1948. Erica Fischer studied at the Interpreting Institute of the University of Vienna, was a founding member of the second wave women's movement in Vienna, and started working there as a journalist in the mid-1970s. She has been living in Germany since 1988 as a freelance journalist, writer, and translator, residing in Berlin since 1994.

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