(Review) Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields by Wendy Lower

Publisher and Publication Date: Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2013.
Genre: Nonfiction. World War II history. German history. Nazi Germany.
Pages: 288.
Source: Borrowed eBook, library copy.
Audience: Readers of World War II, Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust. This book is specific to German women involved in the Nazi pogrom.
Rating: Very good.

Amazon link

Ilse Koch
Irma Grese
Female SS German camp guards at Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp

Summary:
Hitler’s Furies is an analysis of German women who were actively involved in the Nazi genocide during the Holocaust.
These women worked in several different areas: nursing, secretary, guards, and teaching. Also, these women were often the wives of Nazi soldiers (especially wives of high ranking officers).
Hitler’s Furies explores several German women who were known perpetrators. Their personal stories are brief. Their atrocities are examined in detail.
One of the last chapters in the book explores why these women committed such horrific crimes?

My Thoughts:
The main reason I was drawn to this book is its subject. I’d not read a book in particular about female German Nazi criminals. Another book came close to this subject: Ravensbruck by Sarah Helm.

In my mind, women are more apt to be maternal, compassionate, settled, and domestic. Most of the women I’ve known have had these traits to some degree. I know of one family where it was the husband/father who has been the primary childcaring parent. Hitler’s Furies has ended my naivete.

In every case, the female perpetrators became monsters. They were vicious, vile, despicable people. It’s difficult to rationalize (wrap my mind around) their behavior. It’s difficult to believe this behavior didn’t continue after the war.

This is a hard read because of the subject. But if you are a reader of World War II and the Holocaust, this book is important.

Some of the women published their stories many years later, but were selective in what they revealed. Their motive was to share what had happened, but they did not want to be faulted and condemned. In Lower’s research, she had to be acutely aware of who to trust in their personal reflections.

~I feel Hitler’s Furies is thorough in its research and text.
~The dryness of the details is offset by illustrations from the perpetrator’s stories.
~I believe it is impossible to read this type of book and not judge. I have a heart and it has been pricked by the evil actions of these women.



(Review) Saving the Music by Vincent B. “Chip” LoCoco

Publisher and Publication Date: Cefalutana Press. March 1, 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction. World War II. Holocaust.
Pages: 398.
Source: I received a complimentary eBook copy from Amy Bruno of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, but was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of World War II stories.
Rating: Excellent.

Saving the Music is book #2 in the Bellafortuna Series.
A Song for Bellafortuna is book #1

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound

Read an interview with Chip LoCoco at Passages to the Past.

About the Author:
Chip LoCoco was born and raised in New Orleans. His first novel, Tempesta’s Dream, became an Amazon Bestseller.
His second novel, Bellafortuna, has been nationally recognized, being named a Short List Finalist in the William Faulkner Writing Competition and awarded the B.R.A.G. Award in Historical Fiction. Mr. LoCoco is a member of the Italian American Writers Association.
His newest work, Saving the Music, which is Book 2 of his Bellafortuna Series, was just recently released.
Chip, who is an attorney, is married to his wife of over 20 years, Wendy. They have two children, Matthew and Ellie and a beagle, named Scout. They reside in their beloved city of New Orleans, where if you try to find them on a Sunday in the fall, they will be somewhere rooting on their Saints.

Website/Facebook/Twitter/Goodreads

Summary:
It is the winter of 1942, and the world is at war. A few Jewish musicians attempt to flee the Nazi death grip, each desperately trying to navigate his own path to safety. With the courageous aid and kindness of strangers, they soon find themselves in Rome, where under the highly secret help of the Vatican, they are hidden in Bellafortuna, a small village in Sicily. The residents of Bellafortuna welcome them and care for them, and for a fleeting moment, the horrors the musicians are facing are forgotten while residing in the beautiful, idyllic landscape of Sicily. But word soon reaches the small village that Italy has surrendered, now making Germany at war with Italy. War quickly comes to the village as the Germans storm into Sicily to repel the Allied advance. As Bellafortuna becomes front and center in the raging war, the villagers rise as one to try and protect and save the Jews hiding in their midst. Failure to keep them hidden will mean death to those under their protection…and perhaps even to the villagers themselves.
An intricately plotted and meticulously researched novel, Saving the Music demonstrates how, in the face of death and unspeakable horror, the strength of the human spirit of ordinary people can shine bright through the darkness.

My Thoughts:
I was excited to read a story that’s setting is in Italy and Sicily.
I was excited to read a story that has the pope and the Catholic Church as characters.
I didn’t know the history of Jews living in Rome nor their plight during the Holocaust until reading this book.
These are strong reasons this book is unique from other World War II stories.
Other reasons why I love this story:
~History and archaeology research and discoveries are presented in the story about the early Christian church, Peter, and the Catholic Church.
~Courage and resilience in the people who hid Jews or escorted them to safe places. I’m amazed at their ability to be valiant in the face of possible death.
~I enjoyed reading Chip LoCoco’s research regarding the book.
~Saving the Music showed me strength is sometimes in quietness. There were courageous people who risked certain death, but there were people in the background who persevered without notice.
~Saving the Music is a page-turner.
~LoCoco has an engaging writing style.
~The dialogue and characters are believable.
~The ending is deeply satisfyingly.

I have a new interest in this history. I’ve ordered a book recommended by Chip LoCoco, Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler by Mark Riebling.

Giveaway:
Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
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Link for the giveaway: https://gleam.io/HGCJ3/saving-the-music

(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) A Bookshop in Berlin by Francoise Frenkel

Publisher and Publication Date: Atria Books. December 3, 2019.
Genre: Memoir. Autobiography. World War II. Holocaust.
Pages: 288.
Source: I received a complimentary ebook copy from NetGalley and Atria Books, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: Readers of World War II, Holocaust.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon

Author Info:
Françoise Frenkel was born in Poland in 1889. Fulfilling a lifelong dream, she opened the first French-language bookshop in Berlin with her husband. Frenkel’s bookshop miraculously survived Kristallnacht, when hundreds of synagogues and Jewish businesses were destroyed. But in the summer of 1939, with war looming, Frenkel fled to Paris. She sought refuge across occupied France for the next several years until finally, on her third attempt, escaping across the border to Switzerland, where she wrote a memoir documenting her refugee experience. Her memoir, originally published in 1945 as Rien où poser sa tête (No Place to Lay One’s Head), was rediscovered in an attic in southern France in 2010 and republished in the original French as well as in a dozen other languages. This is its first publication in the United States. Frenkel died in Nice in 1975.

Summary:
In 1921, Françoise Frenkel—a Jewish woman from Poland—fulfills a dream. She opens La Maison du Livre, Berlin’s first French bookshop, attracting artists and diplomats, celebrities and poets. The shop becomes a haven for intellectual exchange as Nazi ideology begins to poison the culturally rich city. In 1935, the scene continues to darken. First come the new bureaucratic hurdles, followed by frequent police visits and book confiscations.

Françoise’s dream finally shatters on Kristallnacht in November 1938, as hundreds of Jewish shops and businesses are destroyed. La Maison du Livre is miraculously spared, but fear of persecution eventually forces Françoise on a desperate, lonely flight to Paris. When the city is bombed, she seeks refuge across southern France, witnessing countless horrors: children torn from their parents, mothers throwing themselves under buses. Secreted away from one safe house to the next, Françoise survives at the heroic hands of strangers risking their lives to protect her.

Published quietly in 1945, then rediscovered nearly sixty years later in an attic, A Bookshop in Berlin is a remarkable story of survival and resilience, of human cruelty and human spirit. In the tradition of Suite Française and The Nazi Officer’s Wife, this book is the tale of a fearless woman whose lust for life and literature refuses to leave her.

My Thoughts:

A Bookshop in Berlin is an amazing story for several reasons.

  • The book was first published in the French language in 1945. The Swiss publishing company closed a long time ago. The book was found (by chance) and republished in 2015.
  • A Bookshop in Berlin shows Europe in the years before World War I, to the midway point of World War II. This gave me a panoramic history lesson: politically, geographically, anti-Semitism, rise of Nazism, and the elite book culture.
  • Through Frenkel’s eyes, I see the escalating tension and hostility against the Jews. The restrictions enacted. The looting and burning of buildings. The roundups of the Jews. The fear of who to trust and who not to trust.
  • Frenkel’s grit and determination to escape.
  • The ordinary people who were extraordinary in their courage to help strangers.
  • The great love Frankel carried all her life for books, and for the fond memories of the bookshop she once owned.
  • Frankel shared her thoughts and feelings behind her actions.

Francoise Frenkel was a wonderful writer. I became absorbed in her story from the start. It’s a shame this is the only known book she wrote.

In some of the book the word “we” is used. Who is the “we”? Is it her husband? This is an interesting and mysterious point. She was married, but nothing is mentioned in the book about him. So many unanswered questions just from this unmentioned point. It’s possible they had a falling out and separated. It’s possible that it’s too painful to mention him in her story. Both are plausible.

(Review) No Woman’s Land: A Holocaust Novel by Ellie Midwood

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Publisher and Publication Date: Independent. May 15, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. World War II. Holocaust.
Pages: 314.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the author, but was not required to give a positive review.
Audience: Readers of World War II, Holocaust, and historical fiction.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon
The Kindle Unlimited copy is free for members.

“It was very dangerous for him, and he knew it. But his love for me was stronger than fear.” – Ilse Stein

Summary:
This novel is based on the inspiring and moving love story of Ilse Stein, a German Jew, and Willy Schultz, a Luftwaffe Captain in the Minsk ghetto, who risked his life to save the one he loved the most.
When the last of the Jews’ rights are stripped in 1941, Ilse’s family is deported to a Minsk ghetto. Confined to a Sonderghetto and unable to speak the locals’ language, Ilse struggles to support the surviving members of her family. Befriended by a local underground member Rivka, Ilse partakes in small acts of resistance and sabotage to help her fellow Jews escape to the partisans.
A few months later, after losing almost his entire brigade of workers to one of the bloodiest massacres conducted by the SS, a local administrative officer Willy Schultz summons the survivors to form a new brigade. Ilse’s good looks immediately catch his eye, and he makes her a leader of the new unit and later, an office worker. Soon, an unlikely romance blossoms amid death and gore, moving a Nazi officer to go to great risks to protect not only Ilse but as many others as possible and allowing a Jewish girl to open her heart to the former enemy. Knowing that the ghetto would soon be liquidated, Willy Schultz swears to save Ilse, even if the cost would be his own life.
“We live together, or we die together,” – an ultimate oath of love in the most harrowing setting.
Dark, haunting, but full of hope, No Woman’s Land is a testament to the love that is stronger than fear and death itself.

My Thoughts:
I love this story!

Reasons why I gave No Woman’s Land an excellent review:
•Chapter One begins in 1940. World War II is going on, but for Ilse Stein and her family in Frankfurt they do not see the effects of war. The Stein family has experienced the restrictions of Jews in Germany, but Ilse is still able to work. She is still able to rebel a bit. In the first chapter, I’m given a glimpse at the strong and resilient personality of Ilse. She is a teenage girl, but has the heart of a lion. She is a great character. I see her strengths and also see what is going on around her. I feel an investment in her outcome. She is a character that keeps me reading.
•Descriptions are significant to setting the scene and atmosphere of a story. I felt, Midwood did an excellent job at creating the dark despair of the time period.
•An interesting element is shown in the Jewish Ghetto Ilse is sent to. It is how the Soviet and German Jews view one another. This is not something I’d thought of before and I’m glad Midwood brought this to the story.
No Woman’s Land is fiction, but the story is based on fact. The main characters and their stories are true. Many of the things about the story is true or based on fact. I wonder why Midwood chose to write a fiction book and not a biography? The story is wonderful, but I feel if it had been all factual information it would also be wonderful. Either way it is an unusual love story in harrowing surroundings.

About the Author:
Ellie Midwood is a best-selling, award-winning historical fiction writer. She’s a health-obsessed yoga enthusiast, a neat freak, an adventurer, Nazi Germany history expert, polyglot, philosopher, a proud Jew and a doggie mama.
Ellie lives in New York with her fiancé and their Chihuahua named Shark Bait.
Readers’ Favorite – winner in the Historical Fiction category (2016) – “The Girl from Berlin: Standartenfuhrer’s Wife
Readers’ Favorite – winner in the Historical Fiction category (2016) – “The Austrian” (honorable mention)
New Apple – 2016 Award for Excellence in Independent Publishing – “The Austrian” (official selection)
For more information on Ellie and her novels, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads.

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I do not host giveaways. This link will take you to the giveaway link: https://gleam.io/Tiz79/no-womans-land

03_No Woman's Land Poster