Reviewed by Phee Paradise
Wildflowers of Terezin
By Robert Elmer
If you don’t know anything about Denmark or its people, prepare to be impressed and inspired. When the Germans occupied the country during World War II, the Danes did all they could to hide the native Jews and get them to safety in Sweden. The prevailing attitude was “They’re Danes too.” Wildflowers of Terezin chronicles some of the experiences of that time. Christian pastor Steffen meets Jewish nurse Hanne and together they help some of her people escape. Their actions are, of course, risky and they don’t know who might turn them in to the Gestapo. But I won’t tell you the rest; you will want to read it yourself.
The dynamic between Steffen and Hanne is fascinating. Their relationship is impossible, yet they quickly grow to care about each other because of the compassion and courage they see in each other. Knowing Hanne enables Steffen to see the German oppression first hand and he begins to question his passive acceptance of their presence in his country. She, who is not a very devout Jew, sees in him a faith she is missing in her own understanding of God. But Elmer treats both the inter-faith relationship and the concept of Jewish conversion to Christianity very carefully. There is no strong message about these issues, just a gentle story of growing love.
Stories about the holocaust are heartbreaking and I don’t like reading them. Even though they are usually about overcoming, the evil of the Germans and the suffering of the victims overpower any good feelings the story may generate in me. But in Wildflowers of Terezin, Elmer presents the hatred and oppression gently. He is able to show the effects of it without being graphic. This book really is about the triumph of love over hatred.
Pros: Good story about friendship, courage and faith. The setting is authentic and the characters grow through the hardships they face.
Cons: The motivations of all but the protagonists are not very clear and one wonders if some of them are necessary to the story.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
ABOUT THE BOOK
But truth is hard to come by in the fall of 1943, when Copenhagen is placed under Martial Law and Denmark’s Jews—including Hanne—suddenly face deportation to the Nazi prison camp at Terezin, Czechoslovakia. Days darken and danger mounts. Steffen’s faith deepens as he takes greater risks to protect Hanne. But are either of them willing to pay the ultimate price for their love?
To read the first chapter of Wildflowers of Terezin, click HERE.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Reviewed by Phee Paradise