Monday, June 23, 2008

An Obsolete Honor: A Story of the German Resistance to Hitler

by Helena P. Schrader

ISBN: 9780595490882 - iUniverse (2008)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (4/08)




"An Obsolete Honor" takes us into the time of Hitler's reign covering from 1938 to 1945.  It is a historically fictional story about the German resistance to Hitler.  The story is told through the eyes of several lead characters.  Dr. Schrader takes you into these characters' worlds, so that you see things from their point of view, even if you don't always agree with their belief system, especially when it is one of entitlement and profiting off the misery of others; you still gain an understanding of where these people were coming from.
 
In spite of it being a fictional novel, true historical elements are fully interwoven into the story.  Many of the actual historical figures involved do play roles in this novel.  Dr. Schrader brings the settings to life as she describes them in her story.  It is obvious that her extensive research went way beyond reading books; you can tell that she was actually there, as she brings the places alive.
 
  She also included several key elements in the book that helped me to better grasp the story:  a list of the cast of characters with asterisks by the names of true historical figures; a list of German military ranks; a glossary; and an extensive historical note that includes the names and fates of the true historical figures.  
 
"An Obsolete Honor" really, truly moved me.  When I finished reading it, I sat in silence for awhile.  What hit me the hardest was that the plot is based upon real events that happened within my parents' lifetime.  My mother lived in Germany when my grandfather was in the Army during WWII.  Knowing that many of the people in this novel really existed and that the story is based upon interviews with over 100 survivors of Nazi Germany is incredibly sobering.  Knowing that these events really took place, one has to admit the reality of man's capacity to be inhumane to mankind. 
 
Even though much of this story is about people who were resisting Hitler's reign, it is horrible to have to acknowledge the depth of pain and suffering that hundreds of thousands of people had to endure.  It was also incredibly disturbing to realize how many people took advantage of the situation and profited from it, again, at the expense and torture of innocent people.  These people do not take away from the people that helped others survive, at the risk of their own lives.  These heroes of this period in time gave me a feeling of inspiration, and determination to make sure that I never play a role in hurting someone, and if I have the opportunity to aid someone with their survival, I will take it.
 
This novel is a must read for fans of World War II history and history students.  I think that it is vital to read a novel like "An Obsolete Honor" to truly understand how life was at that time.  By reading about the historical events as they were happening, I feel that I gained a better understanding of the history of that time.  To read a textbook and memorize dates and places is a waste of time because the information gained does not have much meaning until you understand that context in which it was involved.

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