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A European Odyssey of the 1940s
On a winter's day in 1943, 22-year-old Mischka Danos chanced on a terrible sight as he skied through Latvian woods—a pit filled with the bodies of Jews killed by the occupying Germans. The world was full of such atrocities, which makes Mischka's decision to escape conscription to the Waffen-SS by going on a student exchange to Germany all the more remarkable. Even more so when Mischka later discovered he was part-Jewish.
But his was no ordinary life. He narrowly escaped death in the Allied fire bombing of Dresden. He then lived the precarious life of a Displaced Person in occupied Germany before heading north with the hope of crossing the border into Denmark, where he finally reunited with his mother Olga. He went on to become a member of the exceptional Heidelberg school of physics. They were both resettled in the US at the beginning of the 1950s, which is where, much later, he met, fell in love with and married Sheila Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick pieces together her late husband's story through diaries, correspondence and recollections: 'This is a historian's book but it's also a wife's book about her husband ... an offering of love that is also a search for knowledge.'
About the author
Sheila Fitzpatrick is Professor of History at the University of Sydney and Distinguished Service Professor Emerita of the University of Chicago. Mischka's War is the third in her series of memoirs, including My Father's Daughter (2010) and A Spy in the Archives (2013). She has written many books on Soviet history, including On Stalin's Team: The Years of Living Dangerously in Soviet Politics, which was joint winner of the 2016 Prime Minister's Literary Award for Non-Fiction.