Banat Survivor & Author

Gärtner nee Martin, Magdalena


Magdalena (Leni) Gärtner (nee Martin) born in 1932 Setschanfeld.  Currently resides in Nepean Ontario with husband Michael Gärtner. Leni is the author of Sheltered in the Shadow of Your Wings, original German version published in 2005. Also available in an English translation by Nicola Landry and Ruth Mandoli.

Soft cover; 175 pages; 115 photos. $25.00 USA & CAD; including shipping.

To purchase a copy of this book, email Arlene Prunkl or telephone her at (778)-478-0877.



Book Review by Arlene Prunkl

Sheltered in the Shadow of Your Wings is a beautifully written, sometimes heart-wrenching memoir of Magdalena (nee Martin) Gärtner's childhood in the Banat village of Setschanfeld. Mrs. Gärtner begins by describing a peaceful life filled with hard work balanced by pleasant times in Setschanfeld in the 1930s. They truly thought life would never change. She recounts how, at the age of nine, her life and the lives of her family and the other villagers were torn apart when World War II struck the innocent village. She describes the horrible circumstances as the village was first invaded by the Russian Allies, then taken over by the Yugoslav Partisans, and finally turned into a concentration camp for the ostracized Danube Swabians.

In the summer of 1945, "Leni" Martin and her mother managed to flee to a nearby working farm called Krakasch. A year later, they, along with a handful of others including my grandmother, Elizabeth Prunkl, made a daring escape from the tyranny of Communist Yugoslavia across the Romanian border. From there, they made their way through Austria to Germany, where they were reunited with Leni's father. Leni spent the subsequent decade in Germany, where she met her husband Michael Gärtner, before emigrating to Ottawa, Canada. Her parents followed after another decade. Leni never quite recovered from the death of her sister Eva in the Russian labour camps in the year after WWII ended.

The remainder of the book is devoted to the struggles and pleasures of beginning a new life in a foreign land. Like most Donauschwaben, Leni and Michael are survivors -- hardy, optimistic people who made the best of their situation -- and they and their two children prospered. Leni and Michael still live a contented life in Nepean, Ontario, Canada, near Ottawa. They have four grandchildren and have traveled extensively, including a trip back to Setschanfeld and Germany.

Leni's story is a fascinating, easy-to-read account of the struggle, survival, and ultimate triumph of a single family in the face of the Donauschwaben genocide during and after WWII. Highly recommended.   --Arlene Prunkl, 2010 (Member 2003-2010: Editors' Association of Canada)


More about Setschanfeld

[Published at 13 Jul 2010] Submitted by Arlene Prunkl


Latest additions:

GRÜNN, Karl *1855 Perjamosch +1930
Banat Catholic Priest, Poet & Author

KAPPUS, Franz Xaver *1883 Temeschwar +1966
Banat Journalist, Writer & Author
; founder of the Free Democratic Party in Berlin.

KIRCHNER, Rudy *1933-2008 Canada
Banat Historian
, Village Website Pioneer in English

HORWATH-TENZ, Maria *1931 Weißkirchen, + 2007 Banat Death Camp Survivor & Author



Banat Biographies
 began publication at
17 Nov 2009;
Publisher: Jody McKim Pharr

Last updated: 24 Feb 2012

Bibliography - Sources used for this work © 2003-2012 Donauschwaben Villages Helping Hands, a Nonprofit Corporation
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2012
Keeping the Danube Swabian legacy alive