A visit we made to Berlin in April 2012 had a profound effect on me. Not only did I go into my father’s childhood home in the Berlin suburbs but I also, to my dismay, found my grandfather’s name in books about the SS.
My dad had always thought his father was no more than a simple pen-pusher. In a way he was, it was just that his pen shaped the lives of thousands of concentration camp inmates.
This book does more than tell the story of a man directly involved in the Holocaust. It describes what it was like to belong to the family of an SS officer.
And it provides uplifting evidence that revealing the truth from the past brings hope and reconciliation in the present.
There have been plenty of books about the Nazis, plenty about Hitler, and a fair number told by concentration camp survivors. But what was it like being in the family of an SS officer? And how did they cope with shame and guilt after the war?
My father Rudi and his brother Ekart were only boys when hostilities ceased, but they both provided jaw-dropping testimony to events that no child should have had to experience.
A Nazi in the Family was published in March 2015. It tells the family story from the outbreak of the First World War right through to the new life my dad and his sister carved for themselves in Scotland after WW2.
The striking image on the jacket is one of a large and extraordinary family archive. Sarah has digitally restored them all – have a look here to learn more.
It’s clearly of interest to historical groups, but I hope that faith groups will be interested too. One of the strong themes of the book is an attempt to break down racism and discrimination.
And if you belong to a book club, have you thought of sharing the book and skyping me? I’m very willing to do that. I’m an experienced speaker, who gave talks on my first book (Birds in a Cage) at places such as the Hay Festival (twice), so please do get in touch.
If you have comments on the book, or if you have further information, please use the email link on our contacts page.
A Nazi in the Family touches on the broader issue of how the post-war children of German immigrants coped with their halb-Deutsch lives.
If you too are the child of a German, I would definitely like to hear from you. Send me an email and tell me your story (click on the contact tab above).