Anika Scott comes to the blog today with a story that is ultimately a morality play, set in Germany after World War II with
The German Heiress
I remember hearing about the ‘collaborators’ and former Nazi personnel living their ‘best lives’ in Germany after the war. Everyone in the little town knew who they were, what they did, and still, there was little shaming or ostracizing. A few even managed to keep their ‘spoils of war’, passing these stolen goods along to family as their own lives came to an end. I was alternately horrified and angered – as I never did find the “I was following orders” excuse to hold water. But I’d not thought it through – like many people today in this country, we are collectively impacted by the votes of others, and their actions are directly impacting our own lives. Having relatives who were Resistance fighters in France, I heard much of the horrors – but little of the morality play that came into decisions for those Germans who, in survival mode, choose wrongly or poorly as they saw no other option. That brings us to the story of Clara, and how she managed her time in the war – her justifications as she continued to run the family company, her money, and her choice to assume a new identity after the war to evade capture.
Sometimes the worst lies we tell are those we tell ourselves to justify actions that are questionable: bad choices, situations that seem clear from a survival standpoint often become murky in the aftermath when the options are all played out. And this brought a series of thoughts to mind as Clara, feeling she had no choices, kept working for and with the Reich from her position of ownership in a factory- and her ‘justifications to herself’ that she had done all she could for the now, slave laborers in her company. After it all, when she sees that staying as Clara leaves a target on her back, she’s taken a new identity, closed in her life to a few people, and constantly watchful, always thinking of how she came to be there – and what she did that was “right” in a situation that has now been shown to be all wrong.
Dark, intense and twisted, almost despite myself I was ‘empathetic’ to Clara’s situation – while seeing what she could have seen, or failed to see, or when a choice felt particularly selfish and only to benefit her. But now, as she is running and hiding, she’s starting to become aware of her part in the horrors, and where she may have made a choice that wasn’t particularly morally correct. Still struggling with those decisions and her past, Clara was clearly showing us a morality play in real time: exposing horrors that she claimed to not know of, believing that her ‘treatment’ of employees / slaves was fair – and not until she decided to seek out her former best friend and her son that things really started to turn for her personally. It was hard to trust her ‘telling’ of the story as the only voice, not until the struggles of others, and her recognition of the roles she played (if never actually taking real responsibility) as secrets come out and lines of connections are unearthed that the force of the story comes forward. From a justification and half-hearted recognition to the actual struggles that were (and are) common to us all- this book is a difficult read, thoroughly researched, and will leave you with plenty of moments to wonder “what would I do differently?”.
Title: The German Heiress
Author: Anika Scott
Genre: Dark-theme, European History, German, Grief, Historic Elements, Historical Fiction, Political commentary, Post World War II, Setting: Germany, Woman's Fiction
Published by: William Morrow
Published on: 7 April, 2020
Source: Publisher via Avon Addicts, Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 10 Hours: 25 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google ♦Audible ♦Direct from Publisher
For readers of The Alice Network and The Lost Girls of Paris, an immersive, heart-pounding debut about a German heiress on the run in post-World War II Germany.
Clara Falkenberg, once Germany’s most eligible and lauded heiress, earned the nickname “the Iron Fräulein” during World War II for her role operating her family’s ironworks empire. It’s been nearly two years since the war ended and she’s left with nothing but a false identification card and a series of burning questions about her family’s past. With nowhere else to run to, she decides to return home and take refuge with her dear friend, Elisa.
Narrowly escaping a near-disastrous interrogation by a British officer who’s hell-bent on arresting her for war crimes, she arrives home to discover the city in ruins, and Elisa missing. As Clara begins tracking down Elisa, she encounters Jakob, a charismatic young man working on the black market, who, for his own reasons, is also searching for Elisa. Clara and Jakob soon discover how they might help each other—if only they can stay ahead of the officer determined to make Clara answer for her actions during the war.
Propulsive, meticulously researched, and action-fueled, The German Heiress is a mesmerizing page-turner that questions the meaning of justice and morality, deftly shining the spotlight on the often-overlooked perspective of Germans who were caught in the crossfire of the Nazi regime and had nowhere to turn.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via Avon Addicts, Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.