Richard’s latest book is: In the Shadow of Hitler
In the Shadow of Hitler:
Raw novel, set in the underbelly of immediate post-war Germany, hailed “a real page turner” by critics
An historical love story by Richard Vaughan Davies, ‘In the Shadow of Hitler’ embroils readers in a love affair between a young English military lawyer and a worldly sex worker, as bombed-out Altenburg becomes the background for this most gripping of adventures. Every thread of the narrative, including depictions of a young Hitler, is uncannily accurate. So much so that one top amazon reviewer says:
“The descriptions of the landing on the Normandy beaches in 1940 and of the desolate state in 1946 of a great German city (here called Altenburg, but based on Hamburg) which had been gutted by air-raids are so vivid and gripping that one might imagine that the author is writing about his own experiences.”
“A real page-turner, a romance developing between Adam, the naive conscientious British officer and the all-too-knowing Rose, in the immediate aftermath of the second World War. Adam finds himself mixed up in the dangerous underbelly of post-war Germany’s starving homeless population struggling to recover, as he works for the British army’s mopping-up operations and discovers that peacetime has its own conflicts.”
“The descriptions of the landing on the Normandy beaches in 1940 and of the desolate state in 1946 of a great German city (here called Altenburg, but based on Hamburg) which had been gutted by air-raids are so vivid and gripping that one might imagine that the author is writing about his own experiences. There is, for example, an episode during the battle for Caen which had no particular connection with the story, but which is written with a sense of immediacy that seems to stem from a real experience. But the author was born in 1940, so it must all be based on what he has read and on his imagination; and that is very remarkable.
The book is also interesting in the originality of the attitudes of Adam, the central figure and main narrator in the novel. Normally such a description of the horrors on the beaches is associated with the defeat at Dunkirk rather than with the victories on D-Day. Adam is also somewhat unusual in that he has friends among the conquered Germans – the landlady of the house in which he is billeted, and Ernst Mann, an Austrian-born doctor who lives in the attic.
In 1903 Mann had known Hitler when he was a boy of “around fifteen” and had seen him being brutalized by his father. But Mann reproached himself for having kept to himself something he had suspected about young Adolf. I must not divulge what that was – the author has ingeniously adapted for his own purposes a very obscure fact that is known about Hitler’s early life. Had Mann spoken out to the authorities about what he suspected, Hitler’s career might well have become something totally different. Mann would have a second encounter with Hitler fifteen years later, and again he could have changed the course of history, but didn’t.
Adam also befriends the people in a brothel: the Madam tells him at great length of the horror of the firestorms, and moves him to pity. All this while his job is to work as a lawyer in the War Crimes Office, and so he is steeped in the horrors of the concentration camps. He detests his work and is quite nervous about it. He does not at all exude authority when he interviews prisoners. What makes it even worse (we learn half-way through the book) is that his task to DEFEND the prisoners, to give the appearance of impartiality to the proceedings. But he is disgusted when he is told of the policy not to be too hard on high-ups who might be useful to the Allies.
He falls in love with one of the girls in the brothel, Rose, (formerly Rosa von Schirm und Loewen), who has lost all her aristocratic family in the raids; and he wants to rescue her from that life. His relationship with her is an important part of the book. It also is one of the things that imperils his job. So does something much worse: a terrible mistake he makes the course of his work – vividly described (and with – eventually – a melodramatic end), but that is all I can say in order not to give a spoiler.”
Richard Vaughan Davies
‘In The Shadow of Hitler’ is available now on Amazon
as a paperback at £8.99: click here
as a kindle at £3.99 click here