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Aimée & Jaguar: A Love Story, Berlin 1943

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  4,053 ratings  ·  183 reviews
Unique, moving, and true - this radiant love story is set against the horrific backdrop of World War II Nazi Germany. When Lilly "Aimee" Wust, a gentile mother of four and wife of a Nazi officer, met Felice "Jaguar" Schragenheim, a Jew living underground in Berlin, neither could have guessed that their brief initial encounter would develop into a blazing, devoted love. As ...more
Paperback, 274 pages
Published October 1st 1998 by Alyson Books (first published 1994)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  4,053 ratings  ·  183 reviews

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Anti-Semitic, Nazi housewife falls for young Jewish woman sounds like a dubious plotline from the kind of Holocaust-porn made popular by the commercial success of novels like The Tattooist of Auschwitz, but Fischer’s book’s based on actual events. The love affair between Lilly (Elizabeth) Wust and Felice Schragenheim was brought to light in the 1990s by feminist author Erica Fischer. In early 1940s' Berlin, Lilly was an officer’s wife, as well as four small children, the couple shared anti-Semit ...more
Eva Celeste
Jun 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Although I agree with all the criticisms lobbed at this book by other reviewers below, I nonetheless give it 5 stars because it fascinated me, due simply to the heartbreaking, scandalous, and improbable tale underlying it.

As others have written, Aimee may be flighty and appear not take the plight of her lover seriously, but I feel it is easy to judge her retrospectively. I don't believe she behaves differently than many people in the throes of a deep infatuation; however, given that she is infat
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
it was amazing.. I came to this book from the movie, and while I started to read it imagining the actresses of the movie as the characters in the book, I ended up with having the real pictures of Aimée and Jaguar in my head while reading (there are heartbreakingly good photos of them at the end of the book). at times it was tough, cause even though I knew how this tragic story was gonna end, I was still hoping, together with Aimée. the most tragic thing about this book though is that Jaguar's fa ...more
Mar 18, 2015 rated it liked it

Wonderful! 3.5/5 STARS

How fortuitous that I should read this book three weeks before the United States Supreme Court’s landmark decision on same sex marriage! I’m unclear how it landed on my To Read shelf … I think Amazon’s (Goodread’s parent company) algorithms suggested it to me while I was reading the Miseducation of Cameron Post. (I loved that story too!)

Anyway, I’m usually not drawn to love stories or romances but this one piqued my interest with great earnest. My unending fascination with
Aug 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: queer, womens-history
I put off reading this book for six years, because I expected to be emotionally devastated. The story should be devastating. I'm not sure why, when I finally read it, I more or less responded with an emotional shrug. Is it the poor translation? Perhaps the original author was a less-than-compelling writer? I cannot pinpoint it. I suspect the answer may lie in the epilogue, where Erica Fischer tells about her experience researching the book. She was frustrated, eventually even hostile towards the ...more
As with any WWII story involving a Jewish person living in Germany, it's bound to be sad. I felt connected to the characters, but the author's style really made this a tough read. The story was set up like a documentary, only in book form. There would be bits of prose, excerpts of diaries and letters and then straight dialogues from interviews. These elements were not synthesized in a way that made reading it enjoyable.
This is a story of a young German mother who meets a Jewish woman and begins
Rachael Eyre
Jul 23, 2013 rated it liked it
I've wanted to read this for years- I came across the story in a magazine and found it heartbreaking. So to say I feel disillusioned is something of an understatement.

My 3 star rating is solely for the love story and the girls themselves. What I found very difficult to swallow was the author's clear dislike/disdain for Lily- a nice attitude for a biographer! Yes, I can understand her anger towards Germans of the period, but seeing as Lily went some way towards redeeming herself, I found her host
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Finally, I plucked up the courage to read this book, given to me by a dear friend years ago. I knew it was going to hit very close to home and I didn't want to reopen the old wounds, for years I put if off, but I'm glad I did read it eventually.

Apart from the love story of two women, this is a story of how life was in Berlin before, during, and after the war. This is a story of the Jewish community and their struggle. This is a story of how people can turn a blind eye. A story of how war affect
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I dont even know where to start with this. But all I can say that this story was both soo beautiful, heartbreaking and terrifying! I actually started it this summer, and then had to take a break because it made me feel too much, seriously. I highly recommend it and Its such an important story, and these women deserve to have their story told. But I also have to say that reading about what all these people went through during this time, all the loss, hate and fear, made me sick. So I needed to ta ...more
If you intend to read a book about what Nazizm did to people, make it this one. On the one hand, it's very detailed, but not intended to shock; rather respectful and informative. On the other, it is a study a study of maddening love that Aimée throws herself into the more ardently, the more difficult the circumstances(view spoiler). ...more
Nov 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
It took me so long to finish this book because it just made me so angry. And so sad. But these stories must be read, and must be remembered.

“It makes me sad sometimes,” Lilly says. “Now it’s no longer my story”
Jun 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: loved, historicals, lgbt
"I would rather experience great unhappiness and be destroyed by it than live in moderate happiness to a moderate end."

I am deeply unnerved by this book and sadly disappointed.

First, I absolutely adored this story, and I hate myself for hyping it up so much after watching the movie. After hunting down the English edition for so long (sadly my Deutsch is, admittedly, too scheiße to read the original German, despite my many years of study), I suppose I simply had too many great expectations.

"Why am I writing all of this -- I love you so much, in a way I have never felt, never known before. Now I am tormenting you and me. Why does one torment that which one loves? Because one loves."

I've never felt engrossed in a book for a long time until I entered the the world of Aimée & Jaguar. Set in WWII, a Nazi mother and a Jewish woman fall in love in bleak and horrific Nazi Germany. Women's stories during the war tend to be ignored and they seem to be rather non-existent. How much more a st
Feb 23, 2017 rated it liked it

A book who's content is worthy of reading. Aimee and Jaguar is a true story, and a fascinating, it records a love story between two women in the middle of WWII Berlin. It's crazy just to think about that without hearing any particular, but when one discovers that one woman is married to a Nazi and one is a Jewess. Lilly Wust (Aimee) is married to a Nazi officer, and a mother of 4, Felice (Jaquar) is a Jewish woman living underground (they were referred to as Uboats). They meet through a
Lucy Meeker
I absolutely loved this book. It is one of my all time favorites and the movie was wonderful to. If you have not had a chance to read, please do because it won't disappoint. ...more
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review
Based on true events this love story between the wife of Nazi officer and Jewish girl is quite extraordinary. What I found very interesting are two things: construction of it - combination of real letters, poems between Aimee & Jaguar (Felice Schragenheim), dialogues which are built from the interviews with the Elisabeth/Lilly/Aimee Wust, and the second - depiction of the war. At the beginning WW II is almost just the backdrop for the love part of the story and the nearer at the end of the book, ...more
May 15, 2019 rated it liked it
"My God, we've had it up to here with all of it, nor do we believe that people here will change. Heroic battles and anti-Semitism. Revolting. I no longer want to have anything to do with this Germany, thank you very much. Not with this one." ...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
The World War II time period is one of my favorites to read about and study, so I was very curious to read this title. While I do not think the author's writing was very good (quite dry and boring), the story was astounding. In none of my other reading, courses or film watching have I heard a story from a similar lens. The lesbian angle is new of course, but so were all of the details about the Jews who managed to keep living underground (as it were) in Berlin throughout the conflict.

Much of the
Robert Frank
Apr 23, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I came across this book after seeing the movie. I actually have it on DVD. I read some reviews from people who did not think this book was “feminist enough”. But I approached this book from a different angle. I looked at it for what I thought it was, a true historical story.

I appreciate the history of Felice through poems and letters and other documents. It’s something that is not really in the movie as the movie focuses on the love story. The book does as well but it also goes into how the Naz
May 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A summer read that did not disappoint. I loved loved loved Aimee and Jaguar's dedication to one another through the medium of letters. I am so thankful these survived to give the story the unique taste of the past. LETTERS! I wish more people wrote letters, they are such a real declaration of the present moment what ever that moment maybe. I have to go further and say they the movie that is based on this book is also really great. But, the book is a MUST. What brave women they are to have loved ...more
Aug 16, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: school
heart-breaking love story about two women during WW2 in West Berlin. told in a completely unique format (a combination of first-person letters and diary entries and memoir-esque commentary), this book for my HIEU class on everyday life puts me in the shoes of women who love each other and are torn apart by the world tearing itself apart. only wish I didn't have to read it for class so I could savor it more ...more
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This could have been a good book. But, it moves very very slow and i find my mind drifting away. Just csnt finish it. And, i love a good lesbian romance!

Ry Herman
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a story that remains heartbreakingly relevant. It's first and foremost about ordinary people in all their complexity -- sometimes petty and sometimes heroic, sometimes passionate and sometimes cruel. But it's about those people during a time of evil; genuine evil, when it was taken as a fact by far too many that some people were not people, and deserved to be hated, robbed, enslaved, and murdered. At a time when many countries are again (or still) turning away refugees and a sickeningly ...more
Nov 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was an interesting, non-fiction account, of two women in love, one Gentile, one Jewish in Nazi Germany during the last years of WWII. I think it was particularly good at showing how pervasive National Socialism was among the “normal” folk of Germany. I think Americans often assume “it couldn’t happen here” or “it couldn’t happen again” and they don’t understand that Hitler’s rise and the subsequent atrocities happened neither overnight nor in a vacuum. I did find the structure of the book a ...more
Aug 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021, favourites
i’ve never been so touched by a story before in my life i still can’t believe that this happened and that lilly had to deal with not knowing what actually happened to felice yet still waited for her to come back all those years which inevitably she wouldn’t also the photos and the letters made it just that bit more heartbreaking
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book because I loved the movie, which I saw without knowing anything about it. While I’m glad that I went into the viewing experience with absolutely no preconceptions, it was a punch in the gut to realize at the very end of the movie, that it had actually *happened*.

To an old sea dyke like myself (and by old, I mean I’ve been out for 14 years, which is rare for someone my age, even though I’m just past my twenties), having grown up seeing no lesbian representation outside of th
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
We read this book for the feminist "Ain't I A Woman" book club, and I absolutely loved it. I had watched the film many years ago and was interested in the story, but what really came across in the book was just how deeply they loved each other. I also liked that Fischer didn't sugar coat her characters; she sheds light on their weaknesses and personality traits to paint a full picture. I ended up finishing it while riding the T, crying even though I was in public, not just because it was a sad s ...more
May 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
I’m glad I stumbled upon this book during my last visit to Berlin. I was looking for Anne Frank Diary and this was just next to it. You cannot look past this cover photo and well.. who could resist a lesbian love-story from the 1940’s Germany? It was beautiful and sad and yet beautiful story of love, hope and despair. A bit muddled at times, but it actually was well put together from bits and pieces and letters and memories.
Catherine Davison
It seems wrong to be rating this book and especially using these yellow stars which are so reminiscent of the cruel tactics used by the Third Reich to identify the people in the community they planned to murder. This isn't a work of fiction and each page had me wishing it were because there's no escape from the atrocities that took place in 'civilised Berlin' during Hitler's perverse reign. An incredibly sad true story. I found the writer's notes at the end fascinating, her own take on Lilly's s ...more
Elisabeth is the mother of four and a Nazi Officers wife. Felice is a underground Jew. Their story is only told after Elisabeth breaks her years of silence at the age of 80. This is a very heartbreaking story that will at times leave you speechless and angry. I gave it 4 stars due to the fact it was not a smooth read. At times writing was choppy and story felt half told. However it was worth the time reading.
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“In the name of all responsible gods, saints and mascots I pledge to obey the following ten points and hope that all responsible gods, saints and mascots will be merciful and help me to keep my word:
           1.    I will always love you.
           2.    I will never leave you.
           3.    I will do everything to make you happy.
           4.    I will take care of you and the children, as far as circumstances allow.
           5.    I will not object to you taking care of me.
           6.    I will no longer look at pretty girls, or at least only to ascertain that you are prettier.
           7.    I will not come home late very often.
           8.    I will try to grind my teeth quietly at night.
           9.    I will always love you.
           10.  I will always love you.
Until further notice,

Certificate in hand, my school career
now finds its slow and certain end.
Last act, the iron curtain here
Closes on what I might have been.
One year more and I would have earned
my diploma, having played my part.
Instead this list of what I've learned,
States I was quiet, hardworking, smart.

Yes, gone those lovely days in time
When once I dozed to Schiller's "Clock,"
Though much preferred was Scheffler's rhyme.
Awakening me and signalling "stop."
Playing hooky, passing notes, my relinquished
School pass - all passe.
Only I remain, dismissed and hindered,
a ninth-grade student without a grade.
[September 11, 1939]
by Felice Schragenheim”
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