A World Elsewhere

A World Elsewhere

An American Woman in Wartime Germany

Written by:

Additional Formats
  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781101635827
  • 320 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


The extraordinary love story of an American blueblood and a German aristocrat—and a riveting tale of survival in wartime Germany

Sigrid MacRae never knew her father, until a trove of letters revealed not only him, but also the singular story of her parents’ intercontinental love affair. While visiting Paris
in 1927, her American mother, Aimée, raised in a wealthy Connecticut family, falls in love with a charming, sophisticated Baltic German baron, a penniless exile of the Russian revolution. They marry. But the harsh reality of post–World War I Germany is inescapable: a bleak economy and the rise of Hitler quash Heinrich’s diplomatic
ambitions, and their struggling family farm north of Berlin drains Aimée’s modest fortune. In 1941, Heinrich volunteers for the Russian front and is killed by a sniper. Widowed, living in a country soon at war with her own, Aimée must fend for herself. With home and family in jeopardy, she and her six young children flee the advancing
Russian army in an epic journey, back to the country she thought she’d left behind.

A World Elsewhere is a stirring narrative of two hostages to history and a mother’s courageous fight to save her family.


A World Elsewhere is a literary masterpiece, fully realized, and a perfect work of art, a daughter’s eloquent monument to her courageous mother. It is also a reminder that war spares no one but wounds everyone it touches.”—Edmund White, author of Inside a Pearl

“This is family history as story, carefully researched, beautifully written, and impossible to put down.”—Blaine Harden, New York Times bestselling author of Escape from Camp 14

A World Elsewhere is extraordinarily brave and intensely disturbing….MacRae had access to a cache of letters than any family historian would kill for, and she does a superlative job of combining the most intimate familial details with the sweep of big, convulsive history.”—David Laskin, author of The Family

“Only a person of superb literary gifts and exquisite sensibility could have done justice to this great story. The excitements and horrors of wartime are brought vividly to life, and the reader remains spellbound with each turn of the von Hoyningen-Huene family saga. The heroic mother, the romantic, idealistic father, the band of beautiful spunky children—I will never forget any of them.”—Sigrid Nunez, author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag

“This subtle, beautifully crafted book tells a moving story of love, exile and survival from the frozen Neva river to the Loire valley, from Hitler’s Berlin to the shores of Maine. A vivid family memoir and an unforgettable portrait of a woman who braved all to bring her family to safety.”—Caroline de Margerie, author of American Lady

“Sigrid MacRae manages to find a window into Germany during World War II we’ve never looked through before, an unputdownable true story of courage and love, beautifully realised on the page, and a reading experience that will break your heart in a good way.”—Mary-Rose MacColl, author of In Falling Snow

“In this compulsively readable telling of an American mother’s escape with six children from wartime Germany, Sigrid MacRae brings to life the struggle faced by refugees everywhere, as well as acts of kindness that redeem the atrocities of war. I rooted for Aimee’s ingenuity and courage all the way home!”—April Smith, author of A Star for Mrs. Blake

“Deftly fashioned….MacRae does a fine job of portraying the fear and uncertainty felt by her mother, living in a strange land and torn by loyalties.”—Kirkus

“Readers would have to have the proverbial hearts of stone not to sympathize viscerally and be moved by Aimée and her story.”—The Washington Times