In 1939, Hertha Feiner sent her daughters Inge and Marion to Switzerland to escape the tightening Nazi vise in Berlin. Before Deportation compiles fifty-seven letters Feiner sent her to daughters between 1939 and 1942.
While Feiner was Jewish, her daughters' father, Johannes Asmus, was not, and was able to arrange for the daughters' transfer to a Swiss boarding school. Feiner's letters track her tireless efforts to maintain a bond with her children and to advise them as best she can under the circumstances. Her tone ranges from caring to authoritarian, from factual to sentimental, from hopeful to impatient and sometimes desperate. As her situation becomes increasingly dire, Feiner believes that to avoid her deportation, at least one of her daughters has to return to Berlin to live with her. Perhaps because of the intervention of Asmus and the girls' headmaster, Feiner's pleas go unanswered. A touching record of a mother's hope and despair, this memoir is both painful to read and impossible to put down.