(Review) The White Rose Resists: A Novel of the German Students Who Defied Hitler by Amanda Barratt

Publisher and Publication Date: Kregel. May 26, 2020.
Genre: Christian historical fiction.
Pages: 336.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of the underground movement during World War II.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon link

In German: Weiße Rose.

Christian fiction can be undeveloped in areas and this is a negative for some readers. This is the first thing I want to mention, because a reader may see this book and realize it’s Christian fiction and immediately dismiss it. Please give this book a chance. It does not have a thinly veiled storyline and plot. If you know the history about the White Rose underground/resistance movement in Germany during World War II, then you know how the story ends for several of the people involved. Instead, the people involved in the White Rose is the focus of their story. How they came to know one another? How they became willing to sacrifice their young lives for the cause? How they interacted with one another and the deep relationships that developed? All these questions are answered in this beautiful and moving story.

Several other books have been written. One of them I’ve read, Long Live Freedom! Traute Lafrenz and the White Rose by Peter Normann Waage. The link is for my review at Goodreads.

Other books on this subject (links to Goodreads):
A Noble Treason: The Story of Sophie Scholl and the White Rose Revolt Against Hitler by Richard Hanser
The White Rose Munich 1942-1943 by Inge Scholl, Dorothee Solle, Inge Aicher-Scholl
At the Heart of the White Rose, Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl by Hans and Sophie Scholl, Inge Jens, J. Maxwell Brownjohn
Sophie Scholl and the White Rose by Annette Dumbach and Jud Newborn
We will Not Be Silent, The White Rose by Russell Freedman
Defying Hitler: The Germans Who Resisted Nazi Rule by Gordon Thomas and Greg Lewis
An Honorable Defeat: The History of German Resistance to Hitler 1933-1945 by Anton Gill
Alexander Schmorell: Saint of the German Resistance by Elena Perekrestov
The Short Life of Sophie Scholl by Hermann Vinke and Hedwig Pachter

Additional links of interest:
The Holocaust Encyclopedia
Jewish Virtual Library
National World War II Museum

Monument to the White Rose at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

Summary:
Several students at the University of Munich work together in secret to create pamphlets that are distributed to the public. These pamphlets describe a movement of people rising up against Hitler’s ideology. They condemn Hitler and all people who act inhumane, oppressive, and violent.

My Thoughts:
~Beautiful and enticing front cover.
~Great opening sentence: “My future is waiting, a spark in the distance burning steadily brighter as the train approaches the city.”
~The Scholl family is independent-minded and intelligent. This gave the brother and sister team an edge from other young people. Amanda Barratt gave a solid view of the Scholl family that is convincing, necessary, and believable.
~Strong descriptions. I love the descriptions of two mothers. One smells like “fresh bread and soap.” The other has skin smelling “like faded lavender.” It’s in the olfactory of sense that the young women feel a comfort.
~I easily visualized the young people. Whether it was a young man who smoked a pipe or cigarettes, or a change in how the girls wear their hair after attending the university. The students transition from children to young adults in a short period of time.
~After a young man shares what he witnessed, the group began to make plans to actively rise up against Hitler’s regime. They will not just talk among themselves in secret but actively do something. This created for me the building up of their courage and resistance. It is also a pivotal point in their lives and the story. This leads to my favorite reason for loving this book: it captures the characters unique calling.
~A second favorite reason for loving this book is the special bond-perfect unity-strong connection in the group. This wasn’t an average type group of friends who hung out together, but a special group of people. I kept thinking about a verse from the book of Esther: “…for such a time as this.”
~Lastly, the book showed me the group understood (as best they could) the tragic and unfair loss of their young lives.

Scripture reference from Bible Gateway.

(Review) War Torn by Richard Harper

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Publisher and Publication Date: Austin Macauley Publishers. July 31, 2018.
Genre: Historical fiction. World War II. Holocaust.
Pages: 156.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of World War II, Holocaust.
Rating: Good.

Amazon link

January 27 was the 75th anniversary of the liberation of AUSCHWITZ.
Links for further information:
Auschwitz
National Archives 
Huffington Post

About the author:
Richard Harper was born in 1967 in the state of Victoria, Australia. During his 20s, he spent his five years in UK. His interests include history, travel, and sports. He now resides in Brisbane with his wife, Karest, and their four puppies.

Summary:
Many wondered, and not for the first time, at the end of WWII how ordinary people could carry out the most terrible acts of cruelty and brutality against their fellow men. This book tells the story of a German boy and a Jewish girl forbidden to be together by the Nazi regime and how they fight to survive. It tells the story of the Holocaust through the eyes of the perpetrators and gives the reader an insight into the mental turmoil suffered by young men asked to carry out terrible acts. Can young love possibly survive such times?

My Thoughts:
I wonder what the percentage is of Jewish women who married a German Nazi? I’d imagine it is a low percentage. The risk was too great. The ostracism of their people groups would have made the match difficult. Plus, for a Jew to marry a German Nazi during the Holocaust was unthinkable, unconscionable. Yet, this is a plot and conflict in War Torn.
The book is interesting, because it showed me a German Nazi soldier’s perspective. His name is Gunther Wrenger. He became a Waffen-SS. The story begins with his family and life before the war. The relationship he has with Magda is secret. Their youth and naivety is apparent. I wondered how it will endure?
Wrenger is ordered to take part in events or actions that are hard to read. It is difficult for me to have empathy for him. A fine line, very fine.
I wanted to read more from Magda-to hear her voice. The focus of the story is on Gunther.
The book continues to the end of the war. I saw the destruction of Berlin and the aftermath of the war.
In the summary, the book remarks about the German peoples and how they took part in actions against the Jews. I think this book addresses this question adequately.
The pacing, characters, writing style are all fine.
I believe it is the topic of the book that is hard for me to grasp and love.

(Review) My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love by Amanda Barratt

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Publisher and Publication Date: Kregel. June 9, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. World War II. Germany.
Pages: 360.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Kregel, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: Readers of World War II history. Readers who want to understand civilian life in Germany during World War II. Bonhoeffer readers.
Rating: Good.

Amazon

The edition I reviewed is an ebook copy through NetGalley.

It’s important to note this book is based on the historical research on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This book is a work of fiction. It is not a biography. The thoughts and dialogue of Bonhoeffer is what the author has fictionalized.

Summary:
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Protestant theologian, pastor, and writer. He was born in 1906 and died in 1945.
My Dearest Dietrich focuses on the period of time Dietrich was involved in an action against Hitler. As the war progressed, and as the brutalities against the Jews escalated, and Dietrich was silenced by the Nazi regime, Dietrich became apart of a plot against Hitler. During this period of involvement against Hitler, Bonhoeffer became romantically involved with a young woman named Maria von Wedemeyer.

Further links of interest:
Britannica
Biography Online
Holocaust Encyclopedia
“Bonhoeffer in Love”/Christianity Today.
In the above article from Christianity Today, they allow a snippet to be read (they want subscribers only.)

List of books by or about Bonhoeffer on Amazon.
For a biography of Bonhoeffer, please read Eric Metaxas’s book. It is 608 pages. Link for book at Amazon.

My Thoughts:
•I have read several books about people who no longer live that have been fictionalized. No one but that person knows what they think and feel unless they communicate these things and someone writes them down verbatim as acknowledged truth. Private conversations between lovers are rarely passed on to other people because they are of a private nature. I state all of this to address the first point I have on this book. It is an educated guess as to what Bonhoeffer and Wedemeyer spoke about and felt. A huge help is from the book, Love Letters from Cell 92. I have not read this book, but it is the correspondence between them. These letters give a glimpse of their feelings and relationship, but do not give the totality. People may read My Dearest Dietrich and forget it is historical fiction.
•From what I’ve read about Dietrich, he was a reserved and private man. My Dearest Dietrich gives a solid view of those personality qualities. Maria was similar in temperament. When both of the main characters are reserved type people the book can be humdrum. Their personalities compliment one another and go together well, but to read about their relationship it is not as interesting.
•What I enjoyed reading is Bonhoeffer’s commitment, perseverance, and sacrifice to stop Hitler at all cost. This is the passion that is big in the book. Yes, I believe he loved Maria and was committed to her. The big story is his involvement in the plot and sacrifices made to thwart the Nazi regime.

(Review) The Good At Heart by Ursula Werner

The Good at Heart

Publisher and Publication Date: Touchstone. February 21, 2017.
Genre: Historical fiction, World War II, family, Germany.
Pages: 320.
Source: Complimentary hardcover copy from Touchstone. I was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Very good.

Amazon

Ursula Werner’s website. Please scroll down at Werner’s website to read a tribute to her great-grandfather, and the reason behind writing The Good at Heart.

Summary:
Oskar and Edith Eberhardt had built a vacation dream home in the town of Blumental, Germany. Their home has a lovely view of the Alps of Switzerland. During the war, they relocated to this home in order to move away from Berlin. Their daughter, Marina, and her three daughters live with them. Oskar is apart of Hitler’s cabinet. He is away from home often. Marina’s husband, Franz, is in Hitler’s army. Marina hates Hitler and Nazism. Despite her husband being in the military and her father’s work, Marina became involved with helping Jewish people escape. Marina also has a lover who is involved in the Nazi government. Marina helps shelter Jews until they can move to the next safe place. During the arrival of one of her “packages,” Hitler came to visit her parents home.

The story’s timeline is over a three day period: July 18, 19, and 20, 1944.

My Thoughts:
I loved the story taking place over a three day period. By slowing down the timeline of days, the story had a pace I could keep up with, and understand the details of each day.
When the story began, I had no idea the attention each character would have in the story. One of Marina’s daughters has a strong role. She is a child, but the full scope of her purpose will become apparent at conclusion.
Marina and her father, Oskar, are at enmity. However, Oskar is adored by his wife and grandchildren. He is a quiet man. There is a gentle quality in his personality. This is a sharp comparison to his role alongside Hitler.
Marina is a sad character. She represents women who married the wrong person. I don’t know how else to express this predicament she’s in. She did not marry the person she loved, but the person who was available…she settled. I watched her story unfold. On one hand, she could have stayed at home and cared for her daughters in quiet duty and stoicism. Instead, she joined a movement to rescue the oppressed. This task took her out of her melancholy life and gave a new focus.
At times, I thought Edith was thin-skinned and unready for her new situation away from her beloved Oskar. But, her character showed me differently.
The Good At Heart is a very good character study. I loved this aspect more than the story itself. The story is good, but watching the characters move through the three hard days was the reason I could not lay the book down.