This novel, which spans over 50 years, from World War II to 1998, depicts the devastating effects of the Jewish Holocaust and Nuremberg trials, and ends with the search for justice for Wilhelm Deutch. Wilhelm is a mechanic who kept the gas chambers working within the concentration camps. Convicted of war crimes, Wilhelm is executed after the war. In 1998, the granddaughter of his defense attorney, Chasca Broderick, finds among her grandfather’s effects a document prepared by Joachim Gutman, a Jewish “slave,” who writes about Wilhelm keeping him alive during his incarceration, up to his rescue by the allied army after the war. An attorney herself, she feels obligated to her father’s memory to travel to Germany, find Gutman, and clear Wilhelm Deutch’s name.
The novel is written using the excerpts of a manuscript written by a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz. In graphic detail, it describes the genocide of millions of people at the hands of malicious, evil German guards. The plot occasionally shows the Nuremberg trials, describing Wilhelm’s defense and Chasca’s attempt at locating Gutman.
Obviously, considering the book’s subject matter, the drama is compelling and gripping, with the details of concentration camp life described in all its horror. The author moves between historical periods with precision. I found the book difficult to read, as it is more graphic than other novels about the Holocaust that I’ve read. I would especially recommend this book for those who know little about what transpired in the concentration camps.