A Lightness in My Soul: Inspired by a True Story

Written by Annette Oppenlander
Review by Jon G. Bradley

“That day, my soul went flying out again.” In this novella, at times horrific and at others poignant, Arthur struggles to maintain an inner strength as well as his humanity in a time of madness.

With A Lightness in My Soul, raconteur Annette Oppenlander continues her efforts to bring little-known historical events to light via an enhanced retelling. Untangling those oft-forgotten personal memories of traumatic times past, Oppenlander takes a historically grounded incident and offers a modern version for a new audience.

During World War II, many countries moved citizens out of immediate danger regions. Such is the existence of Arthur: living as far as possible from the real war of aerial bombardment and harm, he lives, works, trains, learns, and dreams in an alternate reality run by members of the Hitler Youth.

Camp life is not in any way idyllic. There are marches, military training and discipline, political lessons, and constant reminders of the war. The isolated worldview of camp residents comes to a sharp termination with the arrival of United States soldiers in April 1945. At that moment, their whole being is shattered with the realization that Germany has lost the war. Attempting to understand that entity called Dachau, where he is taken to help newly freed prisoners, Arthur struggles to save his own soul.

In his experiences caring for patients while torn inside by his own personal demons, Arthur witnesses sorrow and death firsthand. He struggles to maintain his humanity in this reality and dreams of reuniting with his mother.