Ghost Waltz is a dark and twisted tale of the personal destruction caused by Hitler’s soldiers that ricocheted throughout Europe as a result of World War II. Ingeborg Day recounts her life as the daughter of an SS officer, her adoption by a family in a small town in Europe, and then her life in New York. Day reveals small glimpses into her life in Germany and the happy memories of her father, like when he sang her Nazi propaganda songs when she was a child. As a police officer in Germany when Hitler assumed power, her father was automatically enrolled in the SS. Day wrestles with that fact, did it mean her father had no choice but to serve Hitler, or did he welcome the high rank bestowed upon him?
Day further examines her parents’ lives to assess whether they were forced to accept the Nazi’s ideals, or whether they truly proscribed to them. Were they simply peasant shopkeepers whose need for money drove them to accept a position in the military to ensure the family could buy bread? She provides excellent examples of how economic changes forced such acceptance. The memories of war she recalls were horrific, as were the detailed explanations of her experiences as a young girl. The memoir contains both interesting and repulsive insights into Day and her real parents. Day recounts her own anti-Semitic views to further reveal the feelings instilled in her since birth, which made her a deeply tortured woman and a complex character difficult to sympathize with.
The elegantly written memoir provides an honest view of German officers and Europe during WWII. Overall, the book is intriguing despite some of Day’s controversial ideals.