1. Story Statement: A young man and his family must overcome the stain of Nazism caused by his SS officer father.
2. Antagonist: Heinrich Hofmann is the antagonist character in the story, and the evil policies of Nazi Germany are the antagonistic force. Heinrich was raised in an anti-Semitic, nationalistic household, and he follows in his father’s footsteps in joining the newly revitalized Nazi party. Heinrich’s goal is to rise in the ranks of the party and raise a perfect Aryan family. Heinrich forces his wife, Greta, to belong to Nazi social circles, his son, Albert, to join the Hitler Youth, and the family to forsake Christianity. Heinrich’s alcohol and drug use causes him to be aggressive and violent. He reacts with authoritarian coldness and a sense of entitlement to the world around him. His choices lead to tragedy and the family’s near ruin.
3. Titles: The SS Officer’s Son
From The Ashes Of Edelweiss
4. Comparables: WWII Historical Fiction
The German Wife – Debbie Rix: This novel is about a young German woman who falls in love with a doctor who becomes an SS officer and must work at the Auschwitz concentration camp. She becomes disillusioned with life as a Nazi wife and seeks to be with a Russian POW she has fallen in love with.
The Boy In The Striped Pajamas – John Boyne: Boyne writes from the POV of a young boy who is the son of the Auschwitz camp commandant during WWII. Bruno meets various Nazi officer characters including Hitler, but doesn't quite understand what he is seeing when he looks over at the prisoners behind the barbed wire fence at the camp.
5. Core Wound: The core wound suffered by the protagonist (Albert) is his father’s abandonment of the family and the lies he told to his children about the nature of their lives as Nazis. Hook Line: The son of an SS officer must keep his past secret while at the same time grapple with his father’s crimes against humanity.
6. Secondary Conflicts: Albert’s mother Greta, the other protagonist in the story, is in constant conflict with her Nazi existence while she deals with the fallout of her life choice with her parents, brother, and best friend. The evils of Nazism adversely affect everyone in her life, including her children.
7. Setting: Inside Nazi Germany from the Aryan family’s perspective – it shows how myopic and surface-driven it is. In the 1920s, we go from the bucolic German countryside to the wild and decadent nightlife of Weimar Berlin. The beauty of Germany is only skin-deep in the 1930s and 40s. The opulence of Hitler’s Berghof Castle and the pageantry of the Nuremberg rallies hide the evil bubbling beneath the surface. Cracks in the surface begin to appear when Greta and Albert start to question Heinrich’s lies and the ugly truth explodes their perfect façade. After the war is over, Greta, Albert, and Albert’s sister Leni suffer the consequences for Heinrich’s actions through the dismal setting of post-war DP camps and the life of immigrants on the run.