Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl In Hitler’s Germany
Created by Ingrid Garner
Produced by 2Hoots Productions
Content warnings: abrupt loud noise, flashing, mental health
Best coming-of-age story ever.
Did your teenagers complain bitterly after the derecho ripped through Ottawa leaving 170,000 households without power? Take them to see Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany. Or take a young adult. Or a parent. Or yourself.
But go see this amazing show!
In 1939, Eleanor Ramrath (Garner) was a 9-year-old in Stratford, New Jersey. She and her older brother Frank were born in America to German immigrants. Eleanor’s granddaughter, Ingrid Garner, engages the audience from beginning to end with a gripping tale sewn together using excerpts from her grandmother’s diary.
And what a diary! How many 9-year-olds watched the Statue of Liberty disappear below the horizon as they sailed to Germany on September 1, 1939? What follows is a tale that brings to mind Kurt Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse Five. But where the Germans capture Pilgrim in 1944, Eleanor leaves in 1939 with her family on the SS Homburg bound for her father’s new job in Germany. While on board, Germany declares war on Poland. Great Britain and France declare war on Germany. The SS Homburg docks wearing Norwegian colours to evade the British and French navies.
From there, Garner gives an extraordinary view of wartime, seen through the eyes of a girl of nine who grows to become a young woman of 15. The story covers a huge span: from Hitler Youth to the Gestapo, from a public hanging to mass bombings, from rationing to starvation and much more.
I’ll never whine about power outages again.
Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl In Hitler’s Germany by Ingrid Garner is playing at ODD Box (2 Daly Avenue) until June 26, 2022. Tickets are $12 online (plus a $2 processing fee) and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at https://apt613.ca/category/festival/fringe/.