An adoring young woman encounters Adolph Hitler when her youth group sings for him. He demands her company in private, and she becomes pregnant, bearing his child but never being contacted by Hitler again. The plot follows her life as an outcast believed to be lying about the child’s parentage, and the life of her son told through her correspondence, diary entries, and from the point of view of a researcher who writes a generation later. Based on facts and documented history, author Ron Merten tells this tale with just enough creativity to make the story fascinating.
Traces of My Father
William Radice Northwestern University Press, 2002 Library of Congress PT2667.A77V3813 2002 | Dewey Decimal 833.914
I recall the long solo journeys when I would think about my father: the Oberfeldarzt (Retired), the Reichsamtsleiter in the SS, the adjutant to Heinrich Himmler, the author of New Foundations for Racial Research, the man described by the chief prosecutor in the Eichmann trial as a 'desk murderer,' the man I knew: my father.
In 1979 Sigfrid Gauch published the groundbreaking Vaterspuren, (Traces of My Father), the first of the so-called father books about the relationships of postwar Germans with their parents. It inspired a new genre in German literature. Ever since, such writings have contributed greatly to Germany's ongoing struggle to overcome its own past.
This autobiographical novel is Gauch's attempt to come to terms with his father, Hermann Gauch, a physician who had joined the National Socialists in the 1920s, wrote six books of "race research" as a member of the SS, and to his dying day remained an unrepentant Nazi. The story alternates between the images of the elder Gauch's death and burial and the author's memories of childhood and adolescence.
Unlike many of the father books, however, Traces of My Father is less a political attack than a personal journey. Gauch, though honest about his father's monstrous actions and ideas, does not shirk their shared emotional bond. The result is a poignant attempt by a son to relive his father's notorious life and in doing so free himself from the man's influence.
In the Gaza Strip, growing up on land owned by his family for centuries, eleven-year-old Yousef is preoccupied by video games, school pranks, and meeting his father’s impossibly high standards. Everything changes when the Second Intifada erupts and soldiers occupy the family home. Yousef’s father refuses to flee and risk losing the house forever, so the army keeps the family in a state of virtual imprisonment. Yousef struggles to understand how his father can be so committed to peaceful co-existence that he welcomes the occupying Israeli soldiers as ‘guests’, even in the face of unfair and humiliating treatment. Over time, Yousef learns how to endure his new life in captivity – but he can’t anticipate that a bullet is about to transform his future in an instant. Shot by an Israeli soldier at the age of fifteen, and taken to hospital in Tel Aviv, Yousef slowly and painstakingly confronts the paralysis of his lower body. Under the ceaseless care of Israeli medical professionals, he gains a new perspective on the value of co-existence. These transformative experiences set Yousef on a difficult new path that leads him to learn to embody his father’s philosophy, and spread a message of co-existence in a world of deep-set sectarianism. The Words of My Father is a moving coming-of-age story about survival, tolerance and hope.