A Picture of Innocence; The orphans of Posen, book one by David St. J. Lane

This book’s subject is the hidden history of the German people in the years before and after the Second World War. It is not the usual tale, because it focuses on ethnic Germans in western Poland in the years up to 1939, and on the fate of ordinary Germans in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Third Reich, and indeed up to the 1960s, when many former Nazis were living quiet lives of comfortable obscurity in the new Germany.

The story is told through the eyes of Julie Scholl, a German music student at the Warsaw Conservatoire at the outbreak of war. She is evacuated to Poznan, where her father hopes she will be safe. But she falls into the rapacious hands of the local Gauleiter, and becomes a pawn in internal Nazi Party power politics..

The author, who is known to me, is not a professional writer, and this does occasionally show. The novel has been self-published, mainly because David Lane had no real idea how to go about getting such a book published. Hopefully, that will soon be put right. But the writing is confident, and the story itself, drawn from a number of sources in Germany and Poland, has the ring of authenticity. This more than makes up for any minor shortcomings in the writing.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this book is the way it makes us re-examine what we all thought we knew about the Second World War. I suspect that the story arose out of many conversations that hinged on who were the real victims in 1939. This is not to say that this book is any sort of Rightist apology or revision of the story of Hitler and the evils of Nazism; far from it. But from some viewpoints, things weren’t as black and white as they are today painted. For that reason alone, this is a worthwhile book and it is to be hoped that David Lane can secure a mainstream publisher to help him tell this story more widely.

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