OUT OF SIBERIA: LIESEL’S EXILE
Cheerfully confident and full of enthusiasm, Liesel set out in 1912 as a young German girl to stay with her uncle and aunt in the Ukraine.
“This is a wonderful land”, she wrote in her first letter home. Little did she realize that she would spend more than 30 years in exile in Siberia. There she became an outcast, a refugee and a widow, losing not only her husband but all five of her children. Moreover, she faced a traumatic readjustment among her family and community when she eventually returned to Germany after 55 years.
Such an extraordinary life has found an ideal biographer. Her cousin, Charlotte Hofmann-Hege, has drawn on Liesel’s correspondence with great skill and sensitivity. The result is a captivating account of someone’s triumph over tragedy. Few would disagree with her suggestion that Liesel “represents millions of people today who are forcibly deprived of their rights.”
But what sustained Liesel under such prolonged pressure? God’s promise: “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
Charlotte Hofmann-Hege was born in 1920 to parents who were closely involved in farming and rural development in south West Germany. After a secure childhood with her brothers on an estate, Hohebuch, in Wurttemberg, she studied home economics and then taught for some years. In 1949 she married Helmut Hofmann, a pastor in the evangelical Lutheran church. They had three children. She died in 2012 aged 92.
Apart from the many duties of life as a pastor’s wife, Charlotte devoted her writing skills to describing the impact of friends and family on her faith. She wrote 15 books, most of them having a strong biographical emphasis. By far the most popular was her narrative concerning her cousin, Elisabeth (Liesel) Thiessen, and the German edition has been through 14 reprints. An edition in Russian is ready for publication.
“The more I studied Liesel’s life”, Charlotte says, “the deeper the impact it made on me. I believe Liesel speaks for millions who are deprived of their rights today. Let her story give them a voice. And may it also bring courage and hope to those who are looking for a sure foundation to their lives.”
Originally in German, the book was translated to English by a Highland based translator Nicolas Archer.