Liberated: A Novel of Germany, 1945
Captain Harry Kaspar is member of the U.S. Occupation forces sent to Germany to oversee that country after victory in Europe in 1945. As this noir mystery opens, Kaspar is about to assume a position of Commanding Officer in Heimgau. The usurpation of this position by Major Membre leads to Kaspar’s retreat out of town, where he stumbles across three tortured men left to die on the side of the road. This inciting incident motivates Kaspar to return to Heimgau and find out what happened to these men; their disappearance motivates Kasper further, precipitating his methodical deconstruction of the scams and corruption perpetrated by the civilians trying to rebuild Germany. Based on Anderson’s own Fulbright-Scholarship-funded research in Munich on the early years of the Occupation there, this novel explores the struggle of the war’s survivors amidst food shortages and cities of rubble. There is even a visit to the notorious Dachau concentration camp, suffused with the stench of speechless misery.
Anderson flavors Liberated with the kind of language found in other noir novels and films, emphasizing the genre with a brutal and unethical crime for Kaspar to resolve. The novel exposure of an under-represented historical period in American history suggests that some of the Occupation forces were not the good guys bringing democracy to the previously dictator state. If you like reading about World War II, you will enjoy reading about its immediate aftermath. If you like the noir novels and films of the mid-20th century, you will enjoy the prose and the femme fatale of Liberated.