Reviews

A Duty Of Remembrance  recounts the lives of two families during the first half of the twentieth century. August, a cooper, spent WWI in Flanders carrying the dead and wounded by horse drawn wagon to the field hospital. His son Gustel joined the SS at the age of twenty, saw his first action September 1.1939 during the invasion of Poland, was later deployed in an Einsatzkommando unit to the Ukraine, and then as a Gestapo officer back in the Reich and in Greece.

School teacher Herbert was a passionate National Socialist as were his daughters Irmgard and Erika. His son Manfred joined the Waffen SS at the age of eighteen and saw his first action in Dieppe. Manfred was captured by the Russians at the age of twenty one and spent five years in the Gulags of Siberia and in the notorious Lubyanka Prison in Moscow. Erika, fleeing from the Russians with a trek of twenty three women and fifteen children survived with only three other women and two children. Irmgard and her two little girls were driven out oftheir home by French troops and spent weeks on the road.

Review from Gordon E. of Pitt Meadows, BC: Gudrun Moore tells the story of her family through first hand remembrances as well as through diaries and other writings of her relatives.   The setting of the book is Germany before, during and after WWII.  The stories of her relatives are interesting and well told.  The voice of the relatives telling their stories in their own words is very effective in getting a first-hand sense of the times and the issues faced.

The author starts the story telling of her decision to become Canadian and just as much to stop being German. In her youth she is appalled on learning of the Third Reich and its atrocities.  As we wind our way through the story we also learn of the role of her family, mostly ardent socialists in the events of the day.  Her father was a member of the Hitler Youth and the SS.  The selection of the title of the book, ” A Duty of Remembrance ‘, becomes clear.  We begin to see the pain of the author in facing her history.  We then see the therapy received by the growing understanding of her family’s story.  Through the story the author stops running from history and faces it.

The book brings the history of post WWI Germany alive.  We understand from a direct perspective the difficulties faced and the proud disposition of her family.  We also begin to understand the traditions and obedience to authority by the German people including her father during  this time period.  Her father did terrible things, made bad mistakes, but via this book we understand the role that obedience and compliance and the horrible realities of the time played in this.  We are also treated to another side of her father; a loving family man.  It is good that at the end we see the author coming to terms with her family and her own history.

This is a story that few would be comfortable telling and this obviously applies to the author as well.  However, it is a tale well told and worth reading.

Review from Gail R. of Calgary, Alberta: Imagine reading Time Magazine in 1965 to discover that your father was being tried for war crimes committed during WWII. The book is a journey of reconciliation of Moore’s struggle with her heritage. It is a powerful story and the stark honesty compels our attention as the book follows the lives of two German families during the twentieth century. It is not a book of judgment but one for those who struggle with the complexity of good and evil in all people.”

Review of A. W., Assistant Editor of a Canadian Publishing House: This is a fantastic story. It was the most engrossing book I have read in the last two years.

Review by Roderich S. of Overath, Germany: I devoured the book. The author describes in great detail the story of her two middle class families. She points out their deep love of their German fatherland and, born out of this, their devotion to the Nazi cause. This then leads to absolute obedience and terrible deeds by her father. One is tom between sympathy and abhorrence about their sufferings on one side and their misguided loyalty with ensuing unspeakable crimes on the other side. Gudrun Moore must be highly recommended for so honestly remembering and publishing this intimate tale of her family.

Review by Talbot J. of BC: I could not put the book down. The intellectual Ernsts and the burger Haefners survive the elite driven WWI, the ‘war to end all wars’ to struggle through times of extreme poverty and desolation, raising the next generation in the great depression that came of age to hear the electrifying rhetoric of Adolf Hitler promising work for all, social justice, equality for women, safety and order, pensions, universal health care, workable infrastructure and education for the mind and body of the next generation of children. All members of the two families became involved in the dream of National Socialism and the reality of 1939-1945, which drew them initially into dreams and hope, then horrors that finally tore the families apart. Gudrun Moore’s compelling biography weaves the reader into the lives of her family members to make them in turn feel the optimism, the terror and sadness to the point of tears. Could these times be repeated again? It is our duty to be aware and vigilant and not unwittingly commit to a similar future.

Review from Martin K. of Braunschweig, Germany:An enthralling and authentic book. It tells the story of her family in the 20th century, some of them ardent National Socialists. For them the collapse of this system was more than just a disappointment. It was a trauma that persisted for their whole life. The book includes the story of August Haefner, an SS officer who, twenty years after the end ofWWII, had to stand trial and was sent to prison for having been involved in killing Russian prisoners of war and thousands of Jewish civilians The fascinating book contains huge amounts of previously unpublished original reports and memories ofthe family members who participated in WWII.

Review from Irene P. of Hines Creek, Alberta:A good, heart wrenching read. This book is written on a very personal basis. The author is interviewing her family members who were directly involved in the part of history that still holds many questions to those who were not there. To read their stories of what took place during that time span certainly opens one’s mind to the great tragedy, the pain, suffering and mental pressures endured by families and soldiers during and long after the war. When interviewing her father the author reveals deep feelings held by both of them that are very emotional and ever so personal. The reader comes away with a great sadness but also an insider’s view of a traumatic time in history.

Review by Maureen J. of Edmonton, Alberta:The author makes a valiant effort to weave her family history, along with two action ‘war’ stories and two tales of female steadfastness into one book. When she ‘peaks through’ as a writer, the reader experiences a liveliness and sensitivity that demonstrate she has talent. Her other and much lighter book  Borobudur By Chance  is an opportunity to see her telling a different journey story.

Contact  Gudrun Moore at : Rd.6 B&B, www.bbcanada.com/6357.html. or by mail:  RR1 S22 C16, Oliver, BC VOH 1T0.   Email: gudrun@vip.net