Out of Hitler’s Shadow
By Roderick Stackelberg
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney
This book is subtitled: Childhood and Youth in Germany and the United States, 1935 – 1967. It is the first volume of Stackelberg’s autobiography and covers the earlier portions of his life.
Those first years are unique. One of four children born to an American mother and German father, the book first details his parents’ family histories and briefly describes how they met. As the Second World War begins, his mother elects to keep the family in Germany with her husband. Celebrating his tenth birthday on VE Day, young Stackelberg, his siblings, and his mother eventually return to the United States. His father, now separated from his mother, remains in Germany.
Based largely on journals the writer kept from an early age, the major portion of this book deals with life after having permanently returned to America. He describes life as a high school and college student in the 1950s. There is also a stint as a US Army draftee, in which Stackelberg is assigned to forces based in Germany. As the book nears the end, one finds the author searching for a meaningful career and becoming more and more curious about past events that have shaped his life.
The writer is a very well educated individual, and the quality of writing reflects this. It is very much in the academic style and at times proves to be dry and unexciting. Still, it is filled with facts, reflections, and admissions. It tells a very unique and personal story. If for any other reason, Stackelberg should be commended for baring his soul and making public his imperfections.
A professor emeritus of history at Spokane, Washington’s Gonzaga University, Stackelberg has written several books on Germany and the history of National Socialism. This first part of his autobiography was self-published through iUniverse. The book has an ISBN of 978-1-4502-6033-6 and retails for $16.95