Journal

WWII 75th ANNIVERSARY BLOG TOUR

WWII_CathyGohlkeWelcome to the WWII 75the Anniversary Blog Tour! Eight authors of Christian World War II novels are remembering the beginning of the war–Hitler’s invasion of Poland, September 1, 1939.

Thank you for joining us as we remember the war that changed the world.  Our novels illuminate different aspects of the war—from the Holocaust to the Pacific to the US Home Front. Each of us will answer the question with a scene from the viewpoint of one of our story characters–Where were you when the war started?

With each blog post, you’ll have the opportunity to win that author’s novel, plus a chance to win a packet of ALL EIGHT featured novels!

Special thanks to Cara Putnam for envisioning and organizing this project, and to Kristy Cambron for creating the fabulous graphics!

From SAVING AMELIE~Where were you, Jason Young, foreign correspondent on assignment in Berlin, when the war began?

Jason Young slammed the typewriter carriage left and ripped the last page of his story from his Royal.  Two double-spaced pages reported the Fuhrer’s invasion of Poland in words that just might make it past Nazi censors.

Rubbing the three-day stubble of his beard, Jason still couldn’t believe the audacity of the propaganda.

Hitler’s announcement had blared over radios at seven, proclaiming that German troops had crossed the Polish frontier at four that morning, advancing in a “counterattack.   Loudspeakers in Berlin shouted the news at ten, and was touted by newsboys hawking specials in the streets.

Like every foreign correspondent in the city, Jason had anticipated the invasion for weeks—just not known where or when, or how the Reich might white-wash it before the world.  But, a ‘counter-attack?’  Even Germans in the street will be hard-pressed to buy such a ruse.   Surely France and Britain will join the fight by sundown.  They’re bound by treaty, not to mention honor.

Still, it wasn’t overrunning Poland that terrified Jason that morning.  It was the memory of the rumor he’d picked up from his informant . . . “When the war starts, so will the T-4 program, the elimination of those deemed a burden on the life of the New Germany—the physically and mentally handicapped—young and old . . . in the words of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, ‘life unworthy of life.’  Gassings, injections, starvation—they have their methods.”

According to Jason’s source, Hitler was only waiting for the distraction of Poland’s demise to begin his euthanasia program.

This is what comes of eugenics and the “work” of “doctors,” like Kramer and Verschuer—men who think they possess the right to dole out life and death in order to create the “perfect human” specimen.  The world needs to know what’s happening here.  Maybe the murder of children will shake the apathy of my countrymen across the pond.  Jason dropped his War on Poland story on his chief’s desk.

The Editor in Chief scanned Jason’s copy, twisting an unlit cigar between his fingers.  “Good . . . good work, Young.  This’ll do it.”

Jason gave a two-finger salute and slapped on his fedora, heading for the door.

“Hey, where do ya think you’re going?  I need another six inches of column before two.”

“Following a lead.  Get Peterson to pony up some artwork.  There’s enough breaking we ought to get a photo or two.”

“None that our ‘gracious hosts’ will let us send to New York,” the Chief complained.  “Get me something juicy enough to make New York’s front page and discreet enough to get past Berlin’s censors!”

“Right,” Jason answered, then mumbled, half-way down the stairs out the door, “the day pigs fly.” He headed for the trolley.

There was “The Schmidt-Veiling Institut” for handicapped children on the far end of the city—one he’d kept his eye on for weeks.  How soon after the invasion of Poland Hitler’s T-4 program might go into affect, he couldn’t guess.  But, this was a story the world must hear, must act upon, a travesty that must be stopped before those children and all others vulnerable were wiped out.  Tantamount to back room abortions, T-4—short for Tiergarten 4, the address where the idea was conceived over lunch—was murder of the first degree.

Jason hopped from the trolley in search of a good spot to view the front door of the institution.  At that moment, the first air raid siren blared across the city.  Pedestrians jumped, paled, turned left and right, searching for the nearest air raid shelter.  Shopkeepers ran into the street, shading their eyes to search the sky, eager to spot the first Polish bombers.  None came.  Not one.

But, Jason did see the pale and shaken form of Rachel Kramer, striking blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter of the infamous Dr. Rudolph Kramer, mad-eugenics scientist.  In that moment, witnessing Rachel drop brown paper parcels of clothing and writing paper scattered by the wind, and slap her hands to her ears, Jason almost believed she knew nothing of her father’s determination to play God along with Germany’s top scientists. Wide-eyed and frightened, Rachel painted the image of a vulnerable young woman herself.

Jason never opposed rescuing young ladies, especially long-legged New Yorkers.  Six long strides and he was by her side, chasing linen stationary from her broken package into the street.  Car horns blared.  Rachel squealed, “Let it go!  It’s not worth it!”

But, he loved her wide-eyed stare and hustled all the faster.  “Lady Kramer,” he smiled, handing her the last of the errant stationery, “we meet again.”

She reddened and bit her lip, bestowing a forced smile. “Sir Jason to the rescue.  You make a habit of saving damsels in distress.”

He grinned from ear to ear.  Pretty women did that to him—turned him into puppet material.

“That infernal siren!” she complained.

“Meant to keep us on our toes and off our guard.  I’m sure they’d claim they’re running essential tests to see that they work properly in the event of air raids—for the safety of the Volk, of course.”  He scanned the sky.

“Poland!  You don’t think they’d really—”

“You expect something different?  Germany’s prepared—for weeks now.  They’ll massacre the Poles, and if the Poles don’t blast them back, shame on them.  Already, Hitler’s—”  And then Jason remembered who he was talking to.  “My apologies, Fraulein Kramer.  You don’t want to know.”  He tipped his hat and turned to go.

“Wait!  That’s not true.”

“No?”  He turned back.  “What’s changed since the gala?”

But she didn’t answer.

Jason waved his hand in front of her face.  “Earth to Fraulein Kramer.”

She blinked.

“Where’s your father?  Back from Scotland’s eugenics conference yet? I’m asking because Germany’s likely closing borders.  You might have a tough job getting through.  Time to go home to the good old US of A.”

“Father’s well connected—the German scientists, the SS,” she defended.

I’ll just bet he is.  Jason nodded.  “That might be his ticket.  They’re giving travel priority to military.”

“There’s something I must ask you, Mr. Young.”  She looked genuinely interested—maybe even concerned—for the first time.

But Jason’s attention shifted.  A black van with painted windows, one like those his informant had described, slowed, as if the driver searched for an address.  It turned the corner, into the very street that housed the institution.

“Go home, Miss Kramer.  My best advice to you and your father is to go home and stay there.  Get out of Germany before things get any worse—and they will get worse.”

“That’s just it.  I . . . Perhaps over dinner we could—”

But he cut her off.  “Sorry, ma’am.  Don’t mean to be rude.  Gotta go.”

“Another rescue mission?”  Her sarcasm scraped raw.

He hated cutting off a beautiful woman, but there was no time to explain.  He’d probably regret it later, but simply tipped his hat, and took off at a clip, following the van around the street corner.  It pulled to a stop in front of the institution.

Moments after the driver knocked on the front door of the brick building, a troop of children exited—perhaps ages as young as three and as old as eleven.  Some of the children strode, stiff in their gait—arms not swinging in rhythm with their stride, or if they did it was exaggerated.  One taller girl, obviously blind, clutched the shoulder of the child in front.  The one that really broke Jason’s heart was a little boy with a moon-round face, flat in front.  He stumbled and fell, pressing his scraped arm to his chest.  Rather than help the child up, the matron jerked him to his feet.  She paused—froze momentarily–when she looked up, seeming to connect with someone.

Half a block away stood Rachel Kramer.  She can’t be part of this, surely. Jason swallowed his disappointment turned to anger, and pulled a small camera from his coat pocket.  He snapped pictures of the children, the van, the matron, and Rachel.  How he’d get them out of Germany and to the U.S. he didn’t know, but there had to be a way.

The children climbed, were lifted or pushed into the van—not so much as a wave good-bye from the grim-faced matron.  The driver slammed the back door, hopped in the front, and peeled the van from the curb.

Jason closed his eyes.  He harbored no illusions about the children’s future.  He couldn’t stop the Nazi horrors he witnessed.  He could only tell the world through stories and do his best to incite and inspire those who might change things.

Rachel disappeared up the street with her packages.  Why did she come?  Her presence makes no sense.  Jason pocketed his camera. 

Before he had a chance to follow, she dropped her packages on a bench, turned and hoofed back to the brick building, pounding the brass door knocker.  She kept at it a good five minutes before the door cracked open, then all but forced her way in.  Less than five minutes later she returned to the walkway, looking as lost as a child without her mother.

This doesn’t look right, doesn’t smell right.  What is she doing here?  Half way up the walk, every remnant of anger evaporated.  The woman he trailed turned, confused and frightened.  “Miss Kramer?”  He reached for her arm.  She pulled away, staring at his hands, then up into his face, as if she didn’t know him.  He stepped closer.  “Rachel?  Are you all right?”

He pulled her to the bench amid her jumble of packages and bags, some of which had been rifled and emptied.  She lifted a torn brown wrapper.

“You can’t trust anybody.”  He tried to make light.

But she looked up with tears in her eyes.  “No.  No, you can’t.”

“Do you want to tell me what happened back there?”

She slumped against the bench back.

“What did that woman say to you?”

Rachel stared straight ahead.  It was getting to be a habit with her. Jason thought that if he waved his hand in front of her face now, she might not notice.

“She said that the children have gone for treatment—what each one needs, what the doctor thinks each one needs.”

“Did she say when they’re coming back?”

Tears welled in her eyes and fell down her cheeks, making her look vulnerable, almost childlike.  She shook her head slowly, finally whispering, “I don’t think they’re coming back.”

She knows—but how?  “Is this part of your father’s research?”

She looked at him, her eyes regaining focus.  “What?”

“You know what they’re doing in the van, don’t you?  Did your father tell you?”

She cringed.  “He’s got nothing to do with that!  He works to make the world a better place, not—not that!”

He leaned closer, wishing he could shield her, knowing he musn’t.  “This is where eugenics leads, Miss Kramer.  This has been the end goal all along—to rid the world of the disabled, the elderly, the politically expendable, and any race or group of people Hitler deems unacceptable.”

“No,” she nearly whimpered.  “It’s not the same.”

Jason sat back, and though he wanted to shake her into reality, he also pitied her.  “If you believe that, you’ve bought into the lie.  There’s nothing I can do to help you if you won’t open your eyes.”  He pulled a card from his coat pocket.  “Here’s my number.  Call me anytime, day or night, if you want to talk.  They’ll know where to find me.”  He hesitated.  “Let me walk you back to your hotel.  Tonight’s the first blackout.  You don’t want to be alone.”

“No, thank you.  It’s not far.  I can manage very well.”

“That’s not a good idea, Miss Kra—”

“I can manage!”

He stood, rebuked but undecided.  He hated leaving her there distraught, especially with the gathering dusk and impending blackout.  But she was arrogant, even in her misery.  He’d have to wait around the corner, follow her, make sure she made it safely back.

He knew she was thoroughly frightened.  Yet he also knew that she and the whole world needed to be terrified.  There was no other way to wake them up, to force their hands.

Saving-Amelie-Book-Cover-250x374

Saving Amelie is the story of Rachel Kramer, daughter of an eminent Long Island Eugenics scientist, who must confront her own pride and sense of superiority to rescue a deaf child–daughter of an estranged friend and of an SS officer–from “elimination” at the hands of the Nazis.  Jason Young, a driven American journalist–and most unlikely ally–connects Rachel to the German resistance and to the work of controversial theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Together, they risk their lives–and ask others to do the same–for those they barely know but come to love. Saving Amelie is available in bookstores and on line.

                                                        Giveaway Details

For a chance to win ALL EIGHT novels featured on our blog tour, please visit each blog, collect the answers to the questions, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway on the BLOG TOUR PAGE (http://www.caraputman.com/blog-tour/wwii-anniversary-tour/). The contest opens September 1, 2014 at 6 am EST and closes September 6, 2014 at 11 pm PST. The winners will be announced onMonday, September 8, 2014.

To win the prize of ALL EIGHT books, you must collect ALL EIGHT answers. The winner must be prepared to send ALL EIGHT answers within 24 hrs of notification by email, or a new winner will be selected.

  • For the Main Rafflecopter Giveaway Contest of all eight WWII novels, here is the Saving Amelie Question for Readers:
    What was the code name for Adolf Hitler’s plan to eliminate the physically and mentally handicapped of Germany once the war began?
  • You can enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway once each day! The more often you visit, the more entries you receive! However, you only need to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway once to be entered. But don’t forget…to win, you must have collected ALL EIGHT answers.

                                   ***SECOND SAVING AMELIE GIVE AWAY***

Leave a comment on this blog and stop by to Like my Facebook Author Page at CathyGohlkeBooks to be entered in a second drawing for a copy of Saving Amelie

THANK YOU FOR STOPPING BY!

God’s blessings  for you,

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