The Day We Had Hitler Home
At the end of World War I, 17-year-old Audrey McNeil joins the rest of her small Australian town to welcome home the returning soldiers. A stranger also disembarks. Audrey’s older sister and guardian, Sylvia, mistakes the battered young man for the son of a German acquaintance and insists he accompany them home. However, they soon discover that the stranger is actually Adolf Hitler, a low-ranking soldier of the German army, and plans must be made to return him to Germany before anyone accuses them of being enemy sympathizers.
Told from Audrey’s point of view, this story flows from Audrey’s sense of teenage confusion to her catalytic encounter with Hitler to her eventual maturity and escape from familial oppression. Audrey’s obsession with filming Germany after the war leads her to leave her own role as observer of the increasing unrest to become an opponent of the fervor stirred up by the angry Hitler. Hall’s attention to detail and insight on the thoughts of a young woman abroad is amazing. The only detraction is the literary device of a dash beginning each bit of dialog rather than the traditional quotation marks.
Although the novelist admits to taking liberties with a few historical facts, this book is thought-provoking, entertaining, and provides context for the events leading up to Hitler’s Germany and the atrocities that were permitted. Recommended for those who enjoy war novels or coming of age stories.