Katie B's Reviews > The German House

The German House by Annette Hess
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really liked it
bookshelves: arc, 1960s, germany, historical-fiction, read-in-2019, ww2, war, bookish-first

4.5 stars

When I first saw this historical fiction book was about the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials of 1963 I knew I had to read it. Even though I have read many historical fiction and nonfiction books about World War 2, I don't often read books that explore the postwar years. The aftermath of the war is something I'm thankful the author deemed worthy of writing about as this was a fascinating read for me.

It's 1963 and Eva Bruhns is twenty-four years old and living with her family in Frankfurt. Given her young age during World War 2, she really doesn't have many memories of that time period. She is working as a translator and is hoping her wealthy boyfriend, Jürgen Schoormann, will soon propose marriage. A man named David Miller wants to hire Eva as a translator for an upcoming war crimes trial, and that doesn't sit too well with Jürgen. Eva is horrified at what she learns at the trial and it weighs heavily on her mind.

Eva is the main character and heart of the story but you do get the opportunity to get into the minds of the other characters as well. Near the beginning of the book, it was slightly jarring when you would be following one character and then without any warning it just bounced to a different character. This was something I adapted to fairly quickly, however I could see how the disjointed transitions might drive other readers nuts.

I felt like there were two parts to the story. You have the trial which goes into detail about the atrocities of the war, and specifically what took place at the Auschwitz concentration camp. But the other compelling part of the story was Eva. I don't want to get into specifics about the plot and get into spoiler territory but I thought the author did a good job showing the attitudes and mindsets of the people in Germany during that time period. I lived in Germany for a few years not that long ago and actually lived not too far from Frankfurt. And I'll admit that might be part of the reason I was so into this story as in my mind I kept thinking about the differences between that time period and now. One of the more interesting things I learned while living there was it is mandatory for Germany students to learn about the Holocaust in school and many are required to tour a concentration camp or visit a museum so they can learn about the horrible things that occurred so it may never happen again.

The only small criticism I have of the book is in my opinion Annegret's storyline wasn't entirely necessary. I would though be willing to change my mind if I ever found out the author's reasons for including it. Some more context would probably help.

Highly recommend reading especially if you are a frequent reader of World War 2 historical fiction.

Thank you to the publisher and BookishFirst for sending me an advance reader's copy! I was under no obligation to post a review here and all views expressed are my honest opinion.
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Reading Progress

November 5, 2019 – Started Reading
November 5, 2019 – Shelved
November 5, 2019 – Shelved as: arc
November 6, 2019 – Shelved as: 1960s
November 6, 2019 – Shelved as: germany
November 6, 2019 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
November 6, 2019 – Shelved as: read-in-2019
November 6, 2019 – Shelved as: ww2
November 6, 2019 – Shelved as: war
November 6, 2019 – Shelved as: bookish-first
November 6, 2019 – Finished Reading

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