It may seem odd to describe a collection of letters home from war-torn Europe as cheerfully high-spirited, but Mollie Weinstein Schaffer, born in Detroit in 1916, belongs to a zesty, can-do generation. Enlisting in the Women’s Army Corps (WACs), Schaffer faithfully wrote home to her family from 1943 through 1945, in letters now edited by her daughter Cyndee Schaffer as “Mollie’s War: The Letters of a World War II WAC in Europe,” out from McFarland & Company Publishers.
From basic training in Florida to service in wartime England, France, and Germany, Schaffer had somber duties to perform as a medical stenographer; among her assignments was to evaluate whether Nazi medical experiments had genuine research value (it was decided they did not). Yet attention is also paid to lighter matters such as makeup, perfume, and dating fellow Jewish soldiers whom Schaffer jauntily terms “M.O.T.’s” (Members of the Tribe).
Her attitude is so ebullient that in 1944, Danny Raskin, a young columnist for the Detroit Jewish News, pleads with Schaffer to file dispatches to inform hometown readers. Schaffer is too busy to comply, but Raskin might belatedly review “Mollie’s War” for the Detroit Jewish News, to which he still contributes.