From My Bookshelf by Lynn Willoughby:
A World War II novel from a different perspective. The location is in Garmish Germany, the protagonist is Elsie, a baker’s daughter who is seventeen and waiting for her life to begin. Her friendship with Josef Hub, a rising star in the army of the Third Reich, ensures her father will have the ingredients he needs to bake bread.
Her family seems very isolated from the terror and desperation overtaking Nazi Germany, even though Elsie’s older sister, Hazel, has been taken away to become part of the Lebensborn – a breeding program to create the perfect Aryan race.
Elsie has her chance to shine when she is invited by Josef to attend a Christmas Eve party. He even buys her a cocktail dress. Then things start to fall apart. He gives her an engagement ring at the party and assumes she will fall over herself to marry him. Instead, she runs outside for some fresh air, is almost raped by a fellow officer, but is saved by a six year old Jewish boy. He follows her home and she secretly hides him in her closet. How can this child be the evil claimed by the Third Reich?
This is a fascinating journey through a horrifying time in history. It is offset by the after story – Elsie’s life in America 60 years after the war. Here it is also Reba’s story, how she grew up in a household with a father forever changed by his war experiences in Viet Nam. Just to complicate things further, Reba’s boyfriend, Riki, works for the US Border Patrol. His conflict is between Mexican immigrants attempting to cross into the USA, and how in fact, his family was once one of those people.
So, there is lots of conflict to go around. I really wanted more of Elsie and less of everyone else. Nevertheless, it is an interesting read and shows us the importance of connecting with the older generation.
- The Mapmaker’s Children
Methamphetamine was widely used during WWII when both sides needed to keep troops awake and euphoric. Very high doses were given to Japanese Kamikaze pilots.