Helga Bürster

Luzie’s Legacy - Novel

(German title: Luzies Erbe)
ca. 288 pages
Helga Bürster
Foto: Helga Bürster
© Uwe Stalf

Helga Bürster, born in 1961, grew up in a village near Bremen, where she lives again today. She studied Theatre Studies, Literary History and History, worked as an editor for radio and television, and has been a freelance author since 1996. Her publications include works of non-fiction, crime novels, and radio dramas.

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A big, forbidden love in tumultuous times

A German family history across four generations of women

For readers of Dörte Hansen and Katharina Hagena

Based on a true story


Shortly after the invasion of Poland in the autumn of 1939 the Polish soldier Jurek Mazur is captured and deported to Northern Germany as a forced labourer. He ends up on a farm in Lower Saxony. Concurrently, the novel tells the story of the rural worker Luzie Krusenbusch and her family.

The Krusenbusch family is long-established in the village and fully integrated. This changes when it becomes known that Luzie is pregnant with Jurek Mazur’s first and later his second child. After that, the young family lives in constant mortal danger because relations between Germans and forced labourers constitute »racial defilement«, a criminal offence. With the help of Luzie’s father, who knows the police officer in charge, they survive and are married in July 1945. But it is not a happy end. Jurek is mobbed by the village. And then Luzie’s fiancé, who was presumed dead, returns to the village. When Luzie dies 70 years later, her granddaughter Johanne decides to explore the story of her grandparents in more detail in order to put an end to the family’s long silence. Johanne knows about Jurek, but he remains a spectre that no one ever talks about. When she finally finds out Jurek’s address and goes to visit him, she finds him desolate and lonely. He is already suffering from the early stages of dementia; but Johanne still recognises a few pieces of the puzzle in his confused stories. In the end, she knows more, but not everything. Yet what she discovers is enough to make peace with the family history and the whispers in the village that have lasted to this day.

Helga Bürster describes with wonderful delicacy and in a deeply moving way how a fate can outlast decades and how staying silent about the past overshadows a family. She talks about four generations of strong women – and about how it’s never too late for reconciliation.

»When Luzie realized that they were no longer German, she cared little about it in this first summer of peace that was like a waltz and smelt of wheat. What did it matter? They had survived the war.«


»The author has created a moving novel, rich in detail and gripping from a historical perspective.« Neue Presse

»Luzie‘s Legacy is far from being a documentary report but a moving, warm, exciting novel written with poetic ease.« Jürgen Kanold, Südwest Presse

»Luzie’s Legacy is, as Helga Bürster writes in her postscript, the story of her own grandmother. [… It] ist the legacy of generations. Which is why talking about it is so important. And Helga Bürster does so brilliantly!« literaturblatt.ch

»Bürster’s book is moving.« Kreiszeitung

»[...] a very accomplished novel that impresses by being down to earth and in close relation to realty as well as with its interesting characters and a very special style.« wasliestdu.de