Wednesday, July 16, 2014

German Soccer during WWII

Congratulations to Germany for its win in the 2014 World Cup. A friend and a cousin were both in Germany at the time and say that the country went wild. Of course, I was a bit disappointed that the Netherlands wasn't in the final.

Soccer is hardly new to Germany, though. There were many clubs throughout the country even prior to Hitler's rise. After he took power, communist clubs were disbanded. Jews were expelled from clubs, but allowed to form their own. After the 1936 Olympics, Jewish clubs were forbidden.

The war brought changes to soccer in the country. Because it was felt that soccer was important to morale, play continued, including championships. As the war continued, changes were made. With fuel rationing, teams could only play within a certain radius of their home. Many of the young men who played were drafted into the military; thus, military clubs sprang up. The Luftwaffe and SS fielded strong teams. As these men were lost in battle, some clubs were unable to field teams. The last championship was played in 1944, despite almost constant bombing. Again, the Nazis felt soccer, by now the #1 sport in Germany, was vital to morale.

Even today, the ramifications of the war touch soccer. In 2009, the Mercedes Benz Arena in Stuttgart was being remodeled. Not long into the work, 18 unexploded bombs were discovered near the stadium. Apparently, they were dropped there by the English in 1944 during a bombing raid targeting the nearby Mercedes Benz factory. Imagine - all of those years, and they were playing soccer near unexploded bombs!

 Did you follow the World Cup at all? Who did you root for?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

German WWII Rationing

Like almost every other country involved in WWII, Germany had a system of rationing in place. You needed to go with your identification (and if you were Jewish, your card would be stamped with a J) and your money to buy the cards. Just having the card didn't guarantee you would get the items. Especially toward the end of the war, the items simply weren't available. And just about everything was rationed, down to clothes and shoes.

This is a card for butter and fat. Each kind of ration card had it's own color. I guess that made it easy for the average housewife to pull the correct card out of her pocket book at the market. You can see that there is one coupon for 125 g of butter left.
Pregnant women and those with jobs demanding hard physical labor got a large allotment of calories. By the end of the war, the average German got about 1600 calories per day. The number continued to drop after the war as Germany lay in shambles and the Soviets blockaded Berlin. Of course, many participated in the black market and, if they had enough of money, they could supplement their diet.

This is a meat ration card. This person used up all the coupons.
This is a milk ration card. It looks to be pretty complete.
This one is for "nutrients". It still has several coupons. 

Housewives became very creative with the food they were able to get. They could make something special out of very little. That will be another post. But imagine not being able to go to the grocery store and not being able to buy whatever you wanted - and finding most of the shelves bare. To us in the United States, it's incomprehensible. 

If you had to ration your food, what could you do without? 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Liz Tolsma D-Day 70th Anniversary Blog Tour

D-Day 70th Anniversary Blog Tour
June 2-13, 2014

Welcome to the D-Day 70th Anniversary Blog Tour! Ten authors of Christian World War II novels are commemorating the brave men who stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Thank you for joining us as we remember their heroism and sacrifice.

Our novels illuminate different aspects of the war—from the Holocaust to the Pacific to the US Home Front. Each day, visit with a new author as we share about our stories, our research, and our unique settings. With each blog post, you’ll have the opportunity to win that author’s novel, plus a chance to win a packet of ALL TEN featured novels!

Giveaway Details

For a chance to win ALL TEN novels featured on our blog tour, please visit each blog, collect the answers to the questions, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway on the BLOG TOUR PAGE You have a new chance to enter each day of the tour! The contest opens June 2, 2014 at 1 am PST and closes June 13, 2014 at 11 pm PST. The winners will be announced on Monday, June 16, 2014. *Note* Several of the titles will not be released until later in the year—these copies will be mailed to the winners after the books release.

To win the prize of ALL TEN books, you must have collected ALL TEN answers. The winner must be prepared to send ALL TEN answers within 24 hrs of notification by email, or a new winner will be selected.

You can enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway once each day! The more often you visit, the more entries you receive! However, you only need to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway once to be entered. But don’t forget…to win, you must have collected ALL TEN answers. To gather the answers, you may download the Word document on the BLOG TOUR PAGE 

Welcome to those of you visiting me - Liz Tolsma - today! 
My second WWII novel, Daisies Are Forever, released last month and I'm so excited about it. 

Why I Write What I Write
Have you ever thought about what it must have been like to be a civilian during WWII? Not an American here on the home front dealing with rationing and victory gardens and riveting tanks. No, a civilian caught in the middle of the fighting in Europe or the Pacific. Imagine the fear and the suffering these people endured.

Now imagine being a civilian in Germany during that time. Not many of us think along those lines. Sure, there were plenty of Germans who were Hitler fans, to say the least. But there were also plenty of everyday Germans who felt much differently about him. Who just wanted the war to be over and for Hitler to be gone.
One of these civilians was my aunt. She was born in the U.S. to German parents who returned to Germany in the 30s. This courageous woman spent the last part of the war in Berlin, which was being bombed almost constantly. There was little of the city left by the time peace was declared. 

She and her parents lived in the basement air raid shelter, desperately trying to survive. She told me how they would sit there and listen to the bombs fall. Each one brought it's own terror. Would they be hit? Was this the final few seconds of their lives? But each bomb also brought it's own hope. Hope that soon the Allies would prevail and that liberation would come soon. 

What a mix of emotions. 

And then one day, she returned from work to find her apartment building destroyed and her parents missing. It took several frantic hours of searching for her to locate them. Put yourself in her place.

Can you feel the sheer panic she felt? 

My aunt is the inspiration for my newest novel, Daisies Are Forever. I have admired her all of my life. She taught me to think about the "other side". She and the others were ordinary people like you and me caught up in the circumstances of time. She taught me about hope and faith and grace. In order to survive, she had to depend on God and God alone to bring them through.

In what circumstances in your life have you had to rely on hope and faith to get you through?

Book blurb:
In the final days of Nazi Germany, the strength of one woman’s heart will determine the fate of a family.
Prussia, 1945
The fall of the Third Reich is imminent. As the merciless Red Army advances from the East, the German people of Prussia await the worst. Among them is twenty-year-old Gisela Cramer, an American living in Heiligenbeil with her cousin Ella and their ailing grandfather. When word arrives that the Russians will invade overnight, Ella urges Gisela to escape to Berlin—and take Ella’s two small daughters with her. The journey is miserable and relentless. But when Gisela hears the British accent of a phony SS officer, she poses as his wife to keep him safe among the indignant German refugees. In the blink of an eye,  Mitch Edwards and Gisela are Herr and Frau Joseph Cramer. Through their tragic and difficult journey, the fabricated couple strives to protect Ella’s daughters, hoping against hope for a reunion. But even as Gisela and Mitch develop feelings beyond the make–believe, the reality of war terrorizes their makeshift family. With the world at its darkest, and the lives of two children at stake, the counterfeit couple finds in each other a source of faith, hope, and the love they need to survive.

"[Daisies are Forever] is a compelling and fast-paced tale about the atrocities and tremendous losses endured by those marked forever by World War II. Recommended for fans of Rosamunde and Robin Pilcher, Kate Morton, and historical romances." —Library Journal

"Tolsma isn't afraid to detail the horrors of war as she depicts how tragedies can be obstacles to one's Christian beliefs." —Romantic Times, 4-star review

"Excellent storytelling, accurate historical reporting and gritty, persevering characters make this WWII-era novel a must-read." —CBA Retailers + Resources

Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and

Blog hop question: Who was the inspiration for Daisies Are Forever? 
Remember to write down the answer of log it in the Word doc available on the blog tour page. And enter the main Rafflecopter giveaway today!

To win a copy of Daisies Are Forever, please …
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Schedule for the D-Day 70th Anniversary Blog Tour

Be sure to visit each site for a chance to win ALL TEN featured novels!
Note: Links will go live on the post date.

June 2: SARAH SUNDIN, author of In Perfect Time
June 3: LIZ TOLSMA, author of Daisies Are Forever
June 4: MURRAY PURA, author of London Dawn
June 5: CARA PUTMAN, author of Shadowed by Grace
June 6: MELANIE DOBSON, author of Chateau of Secrets
June 7: KRISTY CAMBRON, author of The Butterfly and the Violin
June 9: TRICIA GOYER, author of  Chasing Mona Lisa
June 10: PATTY SMITH HALL, author of Hearts Rekindled

June 11: CATHY GOHLKE, author of Saving Amelie
June 12: SIGMUND BROUWER, author of Thief of Glory

Monday, June 2, 2014

And the Winner Is...

The winner of the Kindle HDX is Maggie Boyd! Congratulations, Maggie!!! Thank you everyone for entering. It's been a lot of fun. We'll do it again sometime ;)

Friday, May 30, 2014

D-Day 70 Years Remembered

Last night on PBS, I watched part of a Nova documentary on D-day (part because I'm on deadline now. I justified watching by claiming it was for research!). It was called D-Day's Sunken Secrets. Next Friday is the 70th anniversary of D-day.

The show followed archaeologists as they scanned the bottom of the English Channel with sonar, looking for some of the ships and equipment that were lost on D-day and the following weeks. Along the way, they give the history of that moment in time.

Several things struck me:
1. The immense amount of planning that went into the invasion. They even had to design some equipment just for the beach landings. I'm no mechanic, but even that was interesting to me. There were ships they designed just to transport the tanks. They had to figure out a way to turn a tank into a boat (not so successful, by the way). The British really came up with some crazy but effective things, like tanks that could clear mines. The Allies spend years upon years planning every little detail of the invasion. The intricacy of the plan is amazing.

2. The emotions that the day elicits, even these 70 years later. They brought one veteran on a small sub down to the wreck of the ship where he was a medic. It had hit a mine in the English Chanel on it's 4th trip across that day. You could hear the emotion in his voice as he described the explosion and his decision whether or not to go down with the boat. Later, they show him looking at the crosses in the American cemetery. When he found his captain's grave marker, he began to sob. 70 years later.

They interviewed the man in charge of the sonar work. His father fought in WWII in the Pacific. As he began talking about his father, he choked up. You could hear the admiration in his voice for his dad.

One of the commentators was a retired Army guy (sorry, can't remember the rank) and WWII expert. He spoke about the men who fought here, all the of the young men of promise whose lives were cut short. He said that this truly was the greatest generation. Then this tough soldier fought back the tears. I couldn't fight mine back.

Thank you to all of those who fought and gave of themselves, even giving their lives, so that my husband and children and grandchildren and I can enjoy the freedoms that we have. May we never take them for granted and may we never give them away.

What strikes you when you think about D-day or any part of WWII?

Here is the link to that program if you want to watch it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What a Crazy Two Weeks... (and a new video!)

...since the release of Daisies Are Forever. But in a good, crazy kind of way. I hosted a book release party at my home. I made Lazy Daisy cake and Black Forest cupcakes to go along with the book theme (and cinnamon almonds and fruit salad for those of us who are GF). I decorated the house with daisies. My friend, who is a Mary Kay consultant, came and gave the ladies a satin hand treatment. And we had games and prize baskets and some Q & A time. I was so happy with the turn-out. It was a blast and I would do it again.

On Tuesday night, I had a Facebook release party on my author page. Shame on you if you didn't attend that one. I had never hosted one and only been to one other, but things went so well. My fear was that no one would show up, but I had quite a few who participated. It turned out to be a lot of fun. I'll probably do that again, too.

Earlier this week, I made a video to introduce you to the story behind the story of Daisies Are Forever. Here it is. Litfuse Publicity Group has been so great in helping me to do some of this marketing that I'm not very good at. I like the beginning and the end they put on this video.

 Oh, and I was shopping with my BFF  and we went into Barnes and Noble and just happened to spot this on the shelf. Who knew? (Then, when I turned my back and walked away, she moved it to the end cap for maximum exposure. You gotta love that girl!)

And this past Saturday, I spoke to about 60 women at a luncheon. It went really well, and I was so relieved. Alyssa came along with me and she and her friend played "He Leadeth Me". It was beautiful.

Have you spotted Daisies Are Forever anywhere?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

It's Release Day!!!

It's the moment I know you all have been waiting for these many, many months. Yes, release day for Daisies Are Forever! You can now go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christian Book, or your favorite book seller and purchase your copy.

This book has been a long time coming. I must have started writing it about seven or eight years ago. It's a story I've wanted to write for even longer than that. First, I had to learn and grow and become a better writer, and then I felt I could submit it. Imagine my joy when a publisher bought it. And today, it's out there for the public to read.

It's the real story of two very courageous women. I've taken the true accounts and fictionalized them, but much of what happens in the book did happen. I cannot imagine living during that time, either on the run for my life or hiding for my life. Wondering if each breath would be my last. Praying that the bombs would stop falling while praying at the same time that they would keep falling. I hope the story touches you the way it touched me.

Have you read it yet? Don't forget to spread the word!!! I really appreciate all the help I get from you, my readers. Because of it, I hope to be able to keep writing!