The story begins with Otti’s birth in 1929 in Koblenz-Lützel, Germany (the Rheinland). It continues through Otti’s teenage years in World War II, the postwar hardships of dealing with tuberculosis and the kindness of a Polish gentleman, who probably saved her life. Otti met Laurie, an American GI, in 1945, and came to America in 1948 to begin a new life as his bride.
While growing up in Koblenz, Otti’s family survived numerous air raids during the war. On one occasion, they took cover during an attack, but the shelter filled with smoke. In terror, they fled to the Mosel River. With their apartment destroyed, Otti’s family dispersed. The teen turned to her nearby grandparents for a place to live. Soon after, Otti became ill with tuberculosis, a disease she fought for years. Despite her illness, Laurie Ney, her future husband, still pursued a visa to bring her to the United States. During the interim, he sent Otti boxes of treasured food.
Otti Remembers shares anecdotes of key figures in the author’s life. Meet the following:
- Great-Aunt Greda, the only relative with shelter, fed 20 family members, read palms to supplement income and took eggs and vegetables in trade
- Beloved Shopkeeper Mrs. Moitz who knew all the gossip and met a violent end
- Sigmund, a fellow TB patient, artist and pianist who provided cutting-edge medicine and food for Otti and her Polish sanitorium roommate
- Laurie Ney, the determined soldier, who overcame obstacles to bring a lovely German teen to America
Throughout this book, Otti shares remembrances of the courageous and strong women in her life: Maria Nett, her mother; and Oma Nett and Oma Baulig, her grandmothers. Otti learned many valuable traits from them that allowed her to survive and flourish throughout her life.