Janine Maitland, whose wartime romance was told in ‘Crossing the Borders of Time,’ dies

Janine Maitland, who fled Nazi persecution in Europe and decades later, in events recounted in a book by her daughter, rekindled a romance that she had been forced to leave behind, died March 25 at a hospital in Bethesda, Md. She was 90.

The cause was complications from pneumonia, said her daughter, Leslie Maitland, a former New York Times journalist and the author of “Crossing the Borders of Time: A True Story of War, Exile and Love Reclaimed.”

After its release in 2012, the book was featured on news programs that included PBS’s “NewsHour”and the “The Diane Rehm Show” on NPR. Kirkus Reviews described the work as “a poignantly rendered, impeccably researched tale of a rupture healed by time.”

Mrs. Maitland was born Hanna Günzburger on Sept. 5, 1923, to a Jewish family in Freiburg, Germany. Her father was a businessman, and her mother had been a nurse during World War I.

In 1938, faced with the intensifying Nazi threat, the Günzburgers left Germany for France and settled in the Alsatian city of Mulhouse. There, Hanna took the name Janine and met the young Catholic Frenchman her daughter would call Roland Arcieri. (Leslie Maitland said that she changed his name in the book to protect his privacy.)


Janine Maitland in the United States in 1949. (Family photo )

Janine and Roland fell in love, her daughter said, and were devastated when both families had to leave Mulhouse after the outbreak of World War II in 1939. The Günzburgers made their way to Lyon, France, where in early 1941 — to her joy — Janine again encountered Roland.

The following year, amid ongoing deportations of Jews, the Günzburgers left, sailing from Marseille to Cuba.

“Whatever the length of our separation, our love will survive it,” Roland wrote in a letter to Janine upon her departure. “I give you my vow that whatever the time we must wait, you will be my wife. Never forget, never doubt.”

In 1943, the Günzburgers arrived in New York, and Janine became a U.S. citizen five years later. Roland tried numerous times to contact her. But Janine’s father — who feared that his daughter might be drawn back to the continent where so many Jews had perished — concealed the missives from her.

In 1947, Janine married Leonard Maitland, an American engineer. They lived for many years in New York and New Jersey, where Mrs. Maitland pursued a career as a medical technician.

Around the time of her father’s death in 1990, Leslie Maitland began searching for Roland — and found him in Canada. He and Janine renewed their romance, Leslie Maitland wrote in her book, and remained in touch through visits and phone calls until his death in 2005.

Mrs. Maitland had lived since 2001 in Chevy Chase, Md., and attended the Washington Hebrew Congregation in the District. Survivors include two children, Leslie Maitland of Bethesda and Gary Maitland of Randolph, N.J.; a sister; and three grandchildren.

Emily Langer is a reporter on The Washington Post’s obituaries desk. She has written about national and world leaders, celebrated figures in science and the arts, and heroes from all walks of life.
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