AN ESCAPEE from behind the Iron Curtain is on a mission to share her story with a new generation.
East German Ilse McKee was forced to flee her home town of Altenburg after it was occupied by Russia’s ruthless Red Army during the Second World War.
Now living on Hayling Island, the 95-year-old has re-published her 1960 book, Tomorrow the World – revealing to a new wave of readers the harrowing 75-mile journey she faced to achieve freedom.
With the help of her family, the tome has been made available on both Amazon and Kindle.
Mrs McKee said: ‘It’s absolutely wonderful to be able to share my book again. I hope it can give people an insight into what life was like in Germany during the Second World War – not least for those of us who sought to escape.’
After being forced to carry out manual labour in the Red Army’s Altenburg barracks in 1944, Mrs McKee – a university-trained medical student – decided she could not bear to live under Russian occupation and escape was the only option.
She said: ‘Everything changed when the Russians arrived. There was a lot of power play from the soldiers, there was lots of rape and Altenburg became a very different place to live.
‘I knew I had to get away, so that was what I did.’
Aged just 20, Ilse trekked about 75 miles south of her home – eventually tumbling into freedom and West Germany after climbing a mountain to cross the border of the Iron Curtain.
It was here, two years later, she would meet her future husband Alexander McKee – the late British soldier and diver who discovered the wreck of the Mary Rose in the Solent, during the 1960s.
She said: ‘I would often tell Alex about my stories. One day he bunged a typewriter in front of me and told me to get on with it – that’s how this book came about!’
To purchase a copy of Tomorrow the World and read Ilse’s fascinating story, visit www.amazon.co.uk/Tomorrow-world-Ilse-Mckee/dp/B0000CKMHG.