May 14, 2024

World War II survivor to present program in Great Bend

Posted May 14, 2024 8:15 PM
Mildred Schindler Janzen
Mildred Schindler Janzen

Barton County Historical Society will play host to Mildred Schindler Janzen at 7 p.m., Monday, May 20.  Janzen will be present to answer questions to those in attendance after a brief documentary about her life is screened in the Ray Schulz Research Library at the Barton County Historical Society, 85 S. Hwy. 281, Great Bend. Admission is $5, while members and those 16 and under are free. Light refreshments will be served following the program.

Seventy-five years after the end of World War II, Mildred Schindler Janzen, 95 of Ellsworth, finally decided to tell her story. Janzen was a teenager when Russian soldiers invaded their peaceful family farm in the German countryside and changed the course of her life forever.

Janzen’s memoir, published in late 2020 by Sunbury Press, recounts her experiences as a refugee including separating from her family, coming to America alone as a teenager, finding love, and living the good life. The secret to her abundant joy is revealed in Surviving Hitler, Evading Stalin: One Woman’s Remarkable Escape from Nazi Germany.

“I wish to leave a testimony for the younger American generation that is coming of age at this present time.  Do not ever take the legacy of your birthright for granted.  Oppose evil at every opportunity.  Speak out against injustice.  Most importantly, pay attention in your history class.  History can repeat itself; many of my generation bear witness to that fact,” Janzen said.

Mississippi writer, Sherye Green, partnered with Janzen to write her riveting memoir. Along with Mildred, Green was named the winner of the 2021 Mississippi Library Association Author Award-Nonfiction for the memoir. 

“What a privilege it has been to get to know and to work with Mildred,” Green says. “Her story, set against the backdrop of a little-known period of World War II, is an eyewitness testimony to history you will not want to miss.”

Surviving Hitler, Evading Stalin won the 2020 and 2021 “Sunny Award” from Sunbury Press in for the book in each imprint that “had the biggest impact or the greatest reach.”  Additionally, Janzen received the National Medal of Honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), their highest national award, and another DAR medal for Women in History. The memoir was named a 2021 American Book Fest – Best Book Award Finalist for Autobiographies & Memoirs and won a silver medal in the 2022 Illumination Book Awards:  Biography/Memoir-Inspiration. A short documentary, Mildred’s Escape, has also won ten awards in film festivals worldwide.