At the Wolf’s Table
Rosa Sauer, a 26-year-old German secretary living in Berlin, has been hired for an unusual position. Though women were unable to fight in the war, their services were mandated in other ways. Rosa, along with a handful of other women, has been assigned to serve as a food taster for Adolf Hitler. Their frightful job involves spending each day in Wolfsschanze, the Wolf’s Lair. Three meals a day are placed before them, and they must eat the food to ensure that it is not compromised or poisoned before the same food is served to Hitler. It is not a comforting job, and Rosa, whose husband Gregor has been taken captive in the war, struggles with the belief that she and the other women are Nazis because of the work that they were enlisted to do. Through the span of their work, the women create and change alliances with one another and the guards hired to watch them as an added protection to Hitler.
Postorino has brought 1940s Germany alive by telling a story of a job that truly existed though was relatively unknown until the 21st century when a woman in her 90s, Margot Wolk, talked to newspapers about her experience as Hitler’s food taster during World War II. Her story served as Postorino’s inspiration to write At the Wolf’s Table, though sadly she was unable to speak to the original source before Wolk’s death. Postorino has written an engrossing novel with all of the complexities of friendship, war, and romance. The ending of the novel itself feels rushed as if to tie up loose ends, but the story as a whole is a rich and fascinating look at a nearly forgotten aspect of history.