The award-winning novel by Czech author Kateřina Tučková—her first to be translated into English—about the fate of one woman and the pursuit of forgiveness in a divided postwar world.
1945. Allied forces liberate Nazi-occupied Brno, Moravia. For Gerta Schnirch, daughter of a Czech mother and a German father aligned with Hitler, it’s not deliverance; it’s a sentence. She has been branded an enemy of the state. Caught in the changing tides of a war that shattered her family—and her innocence—Gerta must obey the official order: she, along with all ethnic Germans, is to be expelled from Czechoslovakia. With nothing but the clothes on her back and an infant daughter, she’s herded among thousands, driven from the only home she’s ever known. But the injustice only makes Gerta stronger, more empowered, and more resolved to seek justice. Her journey is a relentless quest for a seemingly impossible forgiveness. And one day, she will return.
Spanning decades and generations, Kateřina Tučková’s breathtaking novel illuminates a long-neglected episode in Czech history. One of exclusion and prejudice, of collective shame versus personal guilt, all through the eyes of a charismatic woman whose courage will affect all the lives she’s touched. Especially that of the daughter she loved, fought for, shielded, and would come to inspire.
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I think [Gerta] is beautiful and relevant. One of its basic themes is the expulsion of the German population from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War, but as a whole the novel carries a much broader theme that seems crucial to me today—that the mutual problems between people and nations will not be solved simply by an acknowledgment, and not even by an apology. An apology is just the beginning. We can admit our own guilt, take it on ourselves, but an even more difficult and important step, which is not spoken of so much and for which there are no laws or entitlements, is forgiveness—whether toward others or toward ourselves. For me, Gerta is a book about forgiveness.
Alice Nellis, director of the Czech TV adaptation of Gerta (English translation by Véronique Firkusny)