My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If the endnotes at the back of this novel are true (and certainly the author has seemed to done her research), only ten percent of Germany’s citizens supported the Nazi party.
Ellen Wiseman writes a story — with many anecdotes from her own family’s personal history — of World War 2 with the perspective of those German citizens who did not support Hitler and his policies. For them and for all who suffered the consequences, this novel takes on a different approach.
Christine, a young girl approaching adulthood, is caught in the maelstrom of war just as her romance with a German Jewish aristocrat has blossomed. This novel is about how the war affected Christine’s family and those within the German village, including Isaac, her Jewish fiance. Christine, a feisty heroine, finds her circumstances so difficult that at times she despairs of life, but somehow she finds the strength to keep persevering. It is interesting to read the interplay of human relationships and the author is good at showing how Christine’s family depends upon her, as she seems to be the strong one in the family.
I found the notes at the back of the book relating which portions of the story were true which heightened my interest after becoming caught up in Wiseman’s portrayal of tragedy, family endurance, and a love story set in wartime Germany. I also learned more about the war and found new information I had not known before. One tragic event I had not known about was that German soldiers, conscripted into the army against their will, had sewn letters into their uniforms that they hoped would be found and read after their death, stating that they did not support Hitler and the Nazi party.
How far does one go to stand up against a regime that imposes harsh consequences for those who disregard the rules? how much do you help those suffering hunger or ill-treatment, if it meant risking the lives of your own family? These kinds of questions never have easy answers, and the author does a good job of showing the kinds of dilemmas that the German people were caught up in. Certainly there are always areas that we, as human beings, fail in, and rescuing the Jewish citizens (because so many died), was one of the greatest tragedies of modern times. Ellen Wiseman’s family did leave food out for Jewish prisoners on their march to Dachau. Would we have done the same, if, knowing we would be caught, it meant a death sentence, not just for you, but also for your entire family? Throughout the years of the second World War, reprisals were often against entire villages.
This is a great book to add to your World War 2 shelf and one you will not want to miss! I enjoyed reading the descriptions of life in a German village, and how families dealt with bombings, food shortages, and constant danger. The descriptions of how the villagers interacted with American soldiers, and the good and the bad that came with peace and freedom, are worth reading for a fresh perspective. The story will make the reader consider what choices they would have made in similar circumstances.