Determination in the face of adversity is a main theme of Sherye S. Green’s latest book. “Surviving Hitler, Evading Stalin,” tells the story of a young woman’s conviction to live a happy life while living in Germany during World War II.
Green’s book recounts the true story of a gentile German girl from the small country town of Radach, Germany during World War II. The story is a memoir, the first Green has written. She tells the true tale of Mildred Schindler Janzen, whom she corroborated with for the book.
“I met a cousin of Mildred Janzen, Jean Behnke, in June 2010 while on a trip to southern Germany and Austria. I was celebrating completing graduate school with my mother. The trip was a Sound of Music tour. Just me and my mom went, and I met Jean on that tour. We’ve kept up ever since.”
In January of 2019, Green had the pleasure of visiting Behnke. They caught up and when Behnke went home, she mentioned Green and her career as an author to her family. Mildred’s family responded by asking her if she would help Mildred tell her story. This delighted Green.
In August 2019, one of Mildred’s daughters contacted Green. After a trip to Germany in October 2019 to meet Mildred and her family and conduct initial research, Green returned to Jackson and began working on the manuscript.
“I would have never written this if her family had not reached out to me,” said Green.
She began working in October and finished the book in March the next year.
“I completed the novel on March 11th, Mildred’s 91st birthday.”
Mildred “Mickchen” Shindler Janzen, was born in the United States in 1929 to German immigrants. In less than six months, her family moved back to Germany to help their parents with their farm in Radach—a small village which is now a part of Poland,—“Radachow.”
Her family farmed potatoes, rye, oats, and sugar beets. They were fortunate to survive Hitler’s Nazi Germany, but the end of the war didn’t spare the family. Mickchen’s family were Christians and her father was not a Nazi nor a Nazi sympathizer.
In 1945, Germany was invaded by Russia. Mickchen’s family was captured. But despite adverse forces, Mickchen was determined to forge a life based on joy, never losing her faith in Christ.
For six months Green worked with Janzen’s 4,100 word account of what happened when her family was captured by Stalin’s Red Army.
“This book was a gift that came to me. I love the World War II time-period because it totally changed the direction of world history. There are so many stories of overcoming the harsh realities of this time.”
Writing is woven into Green’s life. She worked full time in addition to raising her children. She worked in corporate communications and public relations, both writing-focused jobs. In 1996 she got her teaching degree and taught until 2018.
In 2005, Green met with the late Ellen Douglas, the Mississippi writer.
“In 2005, I interviewed Ellen Douglas for a book I wrote with a team of writers called “Proud to call Mississippi Home,” and she let me come back over and get some writing advice from her.”
That was tremendous for her. It gave her direction and the push she needed to write about what she felt passionately about.
In 2012, she published her first book, “Abandon Not My Soul,” an inspirational novel.
“With this coronavirus pandemic I feel like there is a lot of fear in people’s hearts,” said Green, “these are such dark and discouraging times. The book is a different story, but the effects on the heart are the same. The world needs a story of hope,” she said referring to the memoir.
Green earned her undergraduate degree from Mississippi State University. She studied business administration with a central focus on marketing.