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This Afterword to The Enkert Dossiers will hopefully give some insight into my motivations for writing the novel, and the method by which I've gone about it. - Ed Renehan
Excellent, fast-paced, and engaging.
- Charles Scribner III
A page-turning work of fiction that ... looks into the face of evil without blinking - and finds that it is anything but banal.
- Arthur Goldwag, author of The New Hate and Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies
The annual October gathering of former SS, their descendants, and admirers at Ulrichsberg, Austria.
Tomb marker for the Rev. Bernhard Lichtenberg at St. Hedwig's, Berlin.
Cell at Auschwitz - now a shrine - where Saint Maximillian Kolbe was starved to death in 1943 after volunteering to take the place of a condemned Jew.
Mass graves at Chelmno killing center, Poland.
Although based on flesh and blood individuals, most of the characters in this novel are (unless otherwise noted) my own inventions. The same goes for many of the more minor places. For example, there is no King Frederick Hotel on the Kurfürstendamm or, for that matter, anywhere else in Berlin. However, all the churches named, and all the landmarks, neighborhoods, and streets are quite real.
I've based the texts of the documentary interviews with Klaus Bauer and other fictional Nazis on actual interviews conducted through the years with such war criminals as Erich Priebke and Herta Bothe. I've combined, refined, restructured, and refocused these to suit my purposes.
Held every October since 1958, the gathering at Ulrichsberg, Austria is no longer a conclave of SS veterans so much as it is an assembly of younger neo-Nazis and skinheads intent on honoring their memory. The appearances of Gudron Burwitz (daughter of Heinrich Himmler) and Edda Göring (daughter of Hermann Göring) have been highlights of past years. The physical place is accurately described in the text. The son of an SS veteran owns the site.
Gudron Burwitz's organization Stille Help – Silent Help – is the model for the fictional Helga Rath's Silent Aid. Unlike Helga, Gudron has never managed to be particularly sexy. And unlike Helga's father, Gudron's father betrayed Hitler, endeavoring without success to cut a secret deal with the Allies at the end of the war, after which he died a coward's death by suicide rather than face justice at Nuremberg.
In early 2015, the 76-year-old Edda Göring – Godchild of Adolf Hitler – appealed to the Barvarian Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee for compensation for her “father's legacy expropriated in the year 1948” – this “legacy” being some $200 million worth of art plundered from individuals and institutions during the spread of the Nazi regime across Europe. It took the Committee only minutes to deny Edda's request.
In the same year, the estate of Joseph Goebbels sued Random House in Germany for quoting from the Goebbels diaries in a biography. Attorneys for the estate argued that, instead of donating royalties to Holocaust charities, the monies should go to the Goebbels heirs.
The existence of the secretive and sinister network of mutual support called Odessa (Organisation der Ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen, meaning Organization of Former SS Members), this spanning from Europe to South America and places beyond, has long been rumored but never proven. But such is the nature of secret organizations. One imagines the Odessa would, at this point, be largely faded, along with the generation of criminals the protection of which was its raison d'etre.
The so-called “Dachau Massacre” occurred in April of 1945. The account given in this narrative derives closely from the testimony of Waffen-SS soldier Hans Linberger, a survivor of the “massacre.”
The Catholic priest Bernhard Lichtenberg – who died on a train headed for Dachau after protesting the Nazis' mass exterminations of Jews, and publicly praying for the victims – is an actual historical figure whose bones do indeed lie in the crypt of St. Hedwig's, Berlin.
I've based the character of the Catholic priest Schiller on the actual historical figure Rev. Maximilian Kolbe, who was killed at Auschwitz after being granted his request to take the place of a condemned Jew. The man whom Kolbe saved returned to his hometown in Poland after the war only to find his family had been murdered by the Nazis. Pope John Paul II canonized Rev. Kolbe in 1981. The cell where the priest died is now a shrine.
That Bishop Alois Hudal, head of Rome's Austrian-German Catholic congregation Santa Maria dell'Anima, created and administered ratlines by which dozens of high-ranking Nazis and war criminals escaped to South America and other regions is a fact all too true and well-documented.
The evolution of the killing-process at Auschwitz is accurately described, as is the geography and killing-process at Chelmno. No atrocity described in the book is without basis in facts accumulated and given as evidence during war crimes trials.
The firm Friedrich Krupp AG – now called ThysennKrupp AG – remains a significant industrial conglomerate. After the war, Alfried Krupp was found guilty of crimes against humanity. He received a sentence of 12 years in prison and the forfeiture of all property. Authorities subsequently reduced this sentence to three years, and returned Krupp's property, in order that the firm might be of maximum use to the West amid the Cold War. After Krupp's death in 1967, his controlling interest in the firm became the property of a nonprofit philanthropic foundation named for him. Many viewed this as an act of atonement on Krupp's part. Krupp structured the new foundation to be headed by Berthold Beitz, who had come into the Krupp organization during the early 1950s and soon rose to become Alfried's chief associate and assistant. In his pre-Krupp life, Beitz had gained notoriety for saving the lives of 250 Polish Jews during World War II. (Beitz did this by declaring them essential workers at an oil plant.) For this, in 1973, Beitz received the title Righteous Among Nations, the highest Israeli honor given to non-Jews. Not long after Beitz's death at age 99 in 2013, World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder described him as “one of the great Germans of the past century.”
Ilse Hess (wife of Rudolf Hess), Oswald Mosley, and Diana Mitford are actual historical figures, as is Winifred Wagner. Following World War II, due to her Nazi past, Winifred found herself banned from her post as Director of the Wagner Bayreuth Festival. Officially, she passed these responsibilities to her sons, but remained quite active in the background. She never recanted her admiration for her friend Hitler.
A while back I had the privilege of helping my two friends Sarah Ogilvie and Scott Miller (of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) put the finishing touches on their outstanding book Refuge Denied: The St. Louis Passengers and the Holocaust (University of Wisconsin Press, 2006). In the course of this work, I had the honor of meeting and interviewing a number of Holocaust survivors (veterans of the St. Louis voyage) living within the very large and long-established German-Jewish community of Manhattan's Washington Heights – the place often referred to as Frankfurt on the Hudson. This novel is dedicated to the memory of one of them: Ilse Marcus, born 1914 in Breslau, Germany, who lost her entire family in the camps. Ilse herself barely survived Auschwitz. She weighed only 70 pounds on the day of her liberation by Soviet troops - January 27th, 1945. And so, yes, this book is dedicated to Ilse – the warm, gentle lady who fed me cookies and tea in her small apartment one grey day of spring, and told me her story.
I would be remiss if I did not point out one very important fact: The lion's share of descendants of Nazi war criminals are completely and loudly repulsed by the actions of their forebears. Such scions as Katrin Himmler, Ricardo Eichmann, Bettina Göring, Rainer Höss (grandson of Auschwitz-Birkenau commandant Rudolf Höss), and Monika Hertwig and Jennifer Teege (daughter and granddaughter, respectively, of Amon Göth, the brutal concentration camp commander depicted in Schindler's List), are just a few examples as, of course, is the young, fictional Jurgen Enkert.
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