About the Book
Germany, 1954. Jozef grows up in a happy household – so it seems. But his father Gerhard still harbours disturbing National Socialism ideals, while mother Catharina is quietly broken. She cannot feign happiness for much longer and rediscovers love elsewhere. Jozef is uncertain and alone. Who is he? Are Gerhard and Catharina his real parents?
A dark mystery gradually unfolds, revealing an inescapable truth the entire nation is afraid to confront. But Jozef is determined to find out about the past and a horror is finally unmasked which continues to question our idea of what, in the last hour, makes each of us human.
A terrifying and heartbreaking story.
Format: ebook (240 pp.) Publisher: Amsterdam Publishers
Published: 22nd August 2018 Genre: Historical Fiction
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The Quiet Genocide contains a wealth of fascinating information about the rise of Hitler and National Socialism that was certainly new to this reader. The author chooses to impart these facts largely through the classes Jozef attends at school and university, so I did feel at times that I was sitting alongside him in a series of history lectures – a case of telling rather than showing. This contrasted with the sections of moving first-hand testimony, for example from Professor Zielinski, which felt much more vivid and powerful. I also confess that I found it difficult to identify with the adolescent drinking exploits of Jozef and his university friends that take up some of the book.
Jozef’s experiences at school and university are interspersed with insights into the troubled marriage of his parents, Catharina and Gerhard. Gerhard finds refuge in drinking sessions, either alone or with his acquaintance Michael, who seems to exercise a strange hold over Gerhard and exudes a general air of malevolence. Catharina finds refuge from her unhappy marriage in a quite different way; a way that will have unforeseen and tragic consequences.
The subtitle of the book, The Untold Holocaust of Disabled Children in WW2 Germany, means the subject matter of the book is clear to the reader from the start but of course what the reader doesn’t know is how Jozef’s personal history is connected to this terrible atrocity. I think it’s fair to say that it takes quite a while for the mystery surrounding Jozef’s past to be revealed. However, as the book draws towards its shocking conclusion and the true nature of the connection is revealed, it provides an explanation for the strained relationship between Jozef’s parents and demonstrates how the malevolent influence and twisted belief systems of Nazism persisted in some quarters even beyond the end of the war. I found this latter section of the book the most compelling and, for me, it had the pace that was perhaps lacking in earlier parts of the book.
Although I have read a number of books about atrocities committed by the Nazis during World War Two, the shocking nature of those events never seems to lose its impact. Most shocking of all, I find, is the ruthless efficiency and organisation with which such terrible acts were carried out: paperwork completed, records kept, numbers tallied, targets set. Books such as A Quiet Genocide perform an important role in ensuring that such atrocities are never forgotten.
I received an advance review copy courtesy of the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.
In three words: Compelling, factual, chilling
Try something similar…The Good Doctor of Warsaw by Elisabeth Gifford (read my review here)
About the Author
Glenn Bryant was born in 1976 and grew up in Grimsby, the north of England. He has a Masters degree from the University of Dundee, Scotland in modern history where he studied in detail the Warsaw Ghetto 1940-43. He trained in newspaper journalism and is a qualified and experienced senior journalist.
His wife champions disability rights and is experienced working closely with people with complex disabilities.
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