In April 1941, a passenger ship sailing from New York to Cape Town was attacked and sunk by a German raider in the South Atlantic. The passengers were pulled from the waters and transported to Nazi-occupied France, where the majority, as (at that time) neutral citizens of the United States, were released and returned home. News of their fortunate escape soon broke and the story became an overnight sensation. Yet amidst the excitement generated by the captives' release, the fate of those left behind was all but forgotten. Among these unlucky few were seven Canadian women, whose remarkable wartime journey was only just beginning. Interned in German detention camps as 'enemy aliens', they were eventually moved to Berlin, to await repatriation. But - due to a bureaucratic mix up - when they arrived in Berlin, this small group of women found themselves alone, stranded in the heart of Hitler's Germany. The accidental captives had no way home: abandoned, destitute and without permanent lodgings, the story of these seven strangers and their survival is one of the most remarkable stories of life behind enemy lines during World War II.
Who were these seven strangers and how did they survive Hitler's internment camps, the war-ravaged streets of Berlin and the threat of the omnipresent Gestapo? Drawing on first-hand accounts and interviews, Carolyn Gossage pieces together the extraordinary story of the year they spent together in wartime Germany.
Carolyn Gossage is an historian and author of numerous publications, including Greatcoats & Glamour Boots: Canadian Women in Uniform 1939-45 and Forgotten Graces: Travel Sketchbooks of a Victorian Gentlewoman.