Monday, December 30, 2013

Behind the Page... Hershel Grynszpan

Hershel Grynszpan was a Polish Jew living in Paris in 1938. Angered by the limbo that his family was caught in after being deported by Nazi Germany but not allowed to re-emigrate to Poland, he murdered Ernst vom Rath, a low-level official in the German Embassy in Paris. Goebbels used this as the pretext for the looting and riots that we now know as Kristallnacht.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Behind the Page... Kristallnacht

Kristallnacht means "Night of the Broken Glass." This is a very literal naming of the horrific Nazi pogrom (which is Yiddish for destruction) against Jews on November 9, 1938. Synagogues were burned, German and Austrian Jewish businesses destroyed and looted and tens of thousands of German and Austrian Jewish men were arrested.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Behind the Page... A Plot Foiled

In the midst of the controversy surrounding the Sudetenland, a military coup fomented. Led by Abwehr (German Military Intelligence) leadership (Canaris and Oster), members of the German army sought to use the outbreak of war as the opportunity to oust Hitler and the Nazis. They knew that the vast majority of the Generals did not want war and would support a coup if it meant the avoidance of war. However, when Chamberlain negotiated "peace in our time," the leaders of the coup lost their impetus for removing Hitler from power. It is interesting to think about what might have happened if Chamberlain had opposed Hitler, leading to a declaration of war, leading to a military coup within Nazi Germany in 1938.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Behind the Page... Munich Conference

The Czechoslovakian government vehemently opposed part of their country being annexed by the Germans. However, the decision was ultimately made without their opinion or even presence. The Prime Minister of Great Britain Neville Chamberlain called for a conference which was held in Munich. The Munich Agreement allowed Nazi Germany to annex the Sudetenland, and Hitler solemnly promised that he would not take any further aggressive action against Czechoslovakia. The President of Czechoslovakia Edvard Benes was not invited to the Munich Conference and had no say in the "Agreement" which gave away a huge portion of his country. The pic is of Chamberlain and Hitler.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Behind the Page... Sudetenland

The international community did not find the annexation of Austria particularly troublesome. There was, however, quite a bit of controversy surrounding the German-speaking region of Czechoslovakia known as the Sudetenland. Persecution of these "ethnic Germans" was the pretext Hitler used for desiring/scheming to annex this region.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Behind the Page... Annexation of Austria

In the spring of 1938, Austria held a plebiscite which resulted in being annexed by Nazi Germany. While it's true that the Nazi Party bullied its way in to power in Austria, it is also true that most Austrians saw themselves as German. Austria and Germany had long been a part of the same empire up until the Treaty of Versailles. For the most part, the annexation was met with elation among Austrians as seen in the picture.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Behind the Page... Rebuilding the Military

According to the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was only allowed to maintain a small defensive army. Hitler, along with most Germans, found this provision of the Treaty unacceptable. He almost immediately set out to rebuild the German Army without any meaningful objections from other European powers.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Behind the Page... Lebensraum

Hitler preached that Germany needed more lebensraum, "Living Space." He claimed that Germany was way too crowded. He used this doctrine of lebensraum to re-militarize the Rhineland (an area of Germany that had been demilitarized after WWI at the insistence of the French) in 1936. This was the first aggressive act of Nazi Germany.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Behind the Page... Propaganda

Two characters in Slow Boil, the Bloebaums, serve in part to illustrate the Nazi devaluing of human life. Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda, introduced the concept of "worthless eaters" to the German people. The poster below powerfully illustrates the idea of the strong German Aryan having to support others who are not making a "worthwhile" contribution to the Volk (the German word for people the Nazis effectively employed to convey the idea of a simple, pure German society). The poster also effectively dehumanizes the individuals being supported.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Behind the Page... Goebbels

Joseph Goebbels was the Minister of Propaganda for the Nazi regime. He was really gifted at his job; he understood the power of constant bombardment of false information. He introduced the concept of "total war" to the Germans advocating that every- literally every- German fight to the death rather than surrender. In his own warped way, he seemed to really believe this; he and his wife killed their six children before taking their own lives at the end of World War II in May 1945.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Influences and Inspirations... My Church

For many years my church utilized dramas and sketches during worship services and other special events. During that time I was frequently given the opportunity to write some of these. I loved it! I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to develop and hone my writing skills. I especially loved creating, writing and developing dramas with my friend Julie. She is insanely creative! We have so much fun working together! Here's a pic of us- in character.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Behind the Page... Nazi Physical Fitness

The Nazis really were obsessed with physical fitness. They attached physical abilities to mental faculties believing that the latter could not exist without the former. The Nazi Party also opposed "unnecessary" education, so they attached strenuous physical tests to the normal high school and university academic requirements. None of those in top Nazi leadership (with the exception of perhaps Reinhard Heydrich) would have lived up to their own ideals of physical prowess.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Behind the Page... Pastor Bauer

The character Pastor Hermann Bauer is based on Hermann Maas. Maas was a protestant pastor in Heidelberg, a member of the Confessing Church and a vocal proponent of the Zionist movement. He worked hard throughout the 1930's and early 1940's to help as many of his German Jewish friends and contacts as he could. He eventually was sent to a labor camp in France for his anti-Nazi leanings and activities. He was liberated by American troops. In 1964 he was recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Martin Niemoller

Lutheran pastor and leader of the Confessing Church in Germany in the 1930's, Martin Niemoller's famous quote.
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me."

Friday, November 22, 2013

Influences and Inspirations... My Dad

My Dad is a wordsmith. He really enjoys writing poetry; I remember one especially sweet poem he wrote for my 17th birthday. He is very good at communicating his thoughts in writing. Thanks Dad! (The pic is from my 13th bday. He took me on my first date.)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Behind the Page... Berlin Olympics 1936

Berlin hosted the 1936 Summer Olympics. The upside for German Jews was a brief reprieve from Nazi persecutions. Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals in track and field causing great consternation for those who believed in the superiority of the "Aryan" race.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Influences and Inspirations... My Mom

I definitely got my love of reading from my mom. And, historical fiction is her favorite. It makes me very happy to have written a novel that she enjoyed! She also introduced me to new and old classic movies. I distinctly remember watching Sophie's Choice and Judgment at Nuremberg with her when I was a kid. So, here I am with my mom c. 1992.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Behind the Page... Nuremberg Laws

The Nuremberg Laws were passed in 1935. They are infamous for defining Judaism as a race (when in fact it is a religion) and stripping German Jews of their citizenship and other fundamental rights. After Nuremberg German Jewish children were not allowed to attend "German" schools forcing German Jews to create their own schools for the education of their children. Many German Jewish adults had their professional licenses stripped (doctors, lawyers, etc.). The illustration below explains the Nazi definition of a "racial Jew."

Friday, November 1, 2013

Influences and Inspirations... the idea

A lot of people have asked me from whence the idea of Slow Boil came. I have no idea. I do know, however, when I first had the idea. Fifteen years ago I thought, "I should write a novel about two girls, one German and one Jew, growing up in Nazi Germany." I had the idea for my second novel (a loose sequel to Slow Boil) this past summer. I'm really hoping to shorten the time frame from idea to print a bit. The pic is of Keith and me in Colorado fifteen years ago during our first year of marriage.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Behind the Page... Night of the Long Knives

During the "Night of the Long Knives," thousands of Nazi SAs were murdered by the SS. The head of the SA, Ernst Rohm, was embroiled in a power struggle with the head of the SS Heinrich Himmler. Rohm lost. On the pretext that Rohm was a homosexual, Himmler had Rohm murdered (along with a thousand- maybe more- other SA members). Hitler and Himmler also used this as an opportunity to murder a few German generals that they suspected would oppose their long-term plans for Germany. This event solidified both Hitler's and Himmler's power base. Because of the Enabling Act giving near dictatorial powers to Hitler, no real legal recourse was pursued. The photograph is of Hitler and Rohm.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Adventures in Germany

After our first year of teaching, my college roommate and I saved all of our little pennies so that we could spend a month backpacking through Europe. Excellent decision! We had tons of fun. We began each morning with coke and chocolate. For some reason Germany had big cans of coke. That made me inordinately happy. So here's a pic of me c. 1997 in Germany with my big coke.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Behind the Page... Nuremberg

Nuremberg is the city in Germany that the Nazis chose as their literal rally point. They held annual rallies there and built a huge stadium to accommodate these. Many view Nuremberg as the symbolic seat of Nazism as this is where the infamous Nuremberg Laws were passed. More on that next time. The symbolism of Nuremberg also partially influenced the decision to hold the post WWII war crimes trials in that city. More on that in the next book. :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Influences and Inspirations... Nazi Germany Senior Seminar

When finishing my history degree at Texas A&M University (whoop!), I chose Nazi Germany as my senior seminar taught by Dr. Arnold Krammer. Dr. Krammer rocked! He brought in Holocaust survivors as well as a former Luftwaffe pilot. Once again the reality that these were REAL people impacted me. I chose the Resistance as my topic for my paper and presentation. REAL people making life and death choices based on what's right, not what's popular or safe. (The pic is c. 1996 when I took the seminar, and Keith and I were dating and skinny.)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Behind the Page... Bonhoeffer

Behind the Page... Bonhoeffer
The character "Uncle Dietrich" in Slow Boil is based on the early 20th century German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He truly was one of the few Germans that saw Hitler and the Nazis for what they truly were from the very beginning. If you'd like to learn more (a lot more) about Bonhoeffer, I highly recommend the biography about him written by Eric Metaxas.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Influences and Inspirations... Auschwitz

Many people have asked me about inspirations and influences for Slow Boil. I spent the summer of 1994 in Poland on a mission trip (see pic). At the end of the summer, we visited Auschwitz Concentration Camp which is now a memorial and museum. In one of the barracks, hung pictures- 8x10 head shots- of former prisoners the vast majority of whom perished in gas chambers. Seeing these faces, knowing that these were real people, had a profound impact on me.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Behind the Page... Nazism vs. Communism

The German Communist Party was the first political target of the Nazi regime. Germans who were active in the communist party were some of the first individuals to be sent to Dachau, Nazi Germany's first concentration camp.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Behind the Page... Himmler's criminal element

Heinrich Himmler formed his own group of enforcers in the Nazi Party- the Schutzstaffel or SS, less commonly known as the Blackshirts. In 1933 he facilitated the release of select criminals (many were violent offenders) to fill the ranks of the SS.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Behind the Page... No dogs or Jews allowed

During the summer of 1933 in Nazi Germany, signs reading "No dogs or Jews allowed" became a common sight in store windows. Small business owners who did not adhere to this policy were subject to intimidation and violence from the Brownshirts. The Brownshirts never had to worry about any sort of legal ramifications for their actions.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Behind the Page... Brownshirts (SA)

Sturmabteilung (SA) were more commonly referred to as Brownshirts. They were the early thug enforcement branch of the Nazi Party. They were led by Rohm who at one time rivaled Hitler for Party leadership.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Behind the Page... May Day

May Day celebrations in Europe are reminiscent of Valentine's Day celebrations in the U.S.; it is traditionally considered a "romantic" holiday. In May of 1933, the Nazi Party coordinated massive book-burning "celebrations" to commemorate May Day. Books written by Jews or anyone else whose writings were counter to Nazi ideals were burned.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Behind the Page... legalized anti-semitism

After Hitler and the Nazi Party rose to power in 1933, one of their first acts was to dismiss all German Jews from civil positions. They also organized a boycott of all businesses owned by German Jews.

Friday, September 27, 2013

My First Post!

So, from what I've read online, blogging is a necessity for today's aspiring author.  I've finished writing my first novel and just self-epublished on Amazon.  Kinda scary.

You can now download Slow Boil using your Kindle or Kindle App.  Slow Boil is young adult, historical fiction.  Here's a description...

Katarina and Liora have been best friends since kindergarten.  Katarina, a Christian, and Liora, a Jew, have always been accustomed to a certain amount of censure- even in a liberal-minded university town like Heidelberg, Germany.  But, the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party changes everything.  Slowly and steadily over the next decade, censure becomes persecution.  Persecution becomes genocide.  As World War II engulfs the European continent, the two friends struggle to figure out a way to resist the growing tide of blind hatred and endure the uninhibited brutality of Nazi society.  Can their friendship survive such cruelty unleashed?  Can they survive?

Slow Boil.  Download your copy today!