A historical novel by Michael Pitenis
Can the economic crisis bring the ghost of fascism in Europe back to life?
Marianna, a 30-year-old Greek lawyer, is totally dedicated to the objective of the “Germany for a United Europe” organization, namely the spreading of German culture. Her romance with the German head of the organization, the charming cosmopolitan Otto Schandau, is an extra motive for her to work even harder towards her goals, but also to keep her eyes and ears shut to events that would otherwise have made her feel very concerned.
However, everything turns upside-down during her last trip to Munich, a usual meeting place for organization members based all over Europe, due to the appearance of Spanish political scientist and activist Enrique Rojas, who claims that the organization is nothing but a German Trojan horse for the peaceful conquest of Europe. The economic crisis, which revealed the vulnerability of most of their European Union partners, combined with their own powerful economic position, presents them with a first-rate opportunity to do just that - especially with the organization creating German-friendly pockets all over the continent through cultural expansion.
Through Rojas, Marianna finds out that many of the organization members are descendants of either “Wehrmacht children”, that is children born to German soldiers and women from conquered countries, or “Lebensborn”, children born in the communities where Heinrich Himmler attempted to “create” his Aryan Race.
All she had believed until then is considerably shaken, but what will follow will confirm her fears in the most dramatic way. A strange accident costing the life of a Greek friend of hers who resided in Munich and was trying to help her find the truth, the inexplicable death of an important German professor maintaining that some people in his country have learned nothing from World War II, and the simultaneous disappearance of his archives weave a net of fear around her. But nothing is as important as the sudden loss of her mother, who her family doctor has no doubt was murdered.
Marianna feels lonely, surrounded by enemies, unaware of who those might really be. She takes the risk of trusting Rojas, and also Theo Auguste Renard, a Belgian art dealer, and Dominique Peretti, a French economist, who appear along the way. Their knowledge of politics, art, history, and economics are absolutely necessary for her to make sense of a series of strange and unconnected facts and legends. She wants to find out about the significance of Francisco Goya’s painting The Witches Sabbath, or the Spear of Longinus, Adolf Hitler’s Holy Grail (since he believed it would help him rule the whole world); she wants to know about the new “Nazi Princess” who is to take the place of aging Himmler’s daughter Gudrun, and solve the riddle called “The Haber Rule”. This is the code name given by the organization to its secret plan, and deciphering it will bring the truth to light. They start off knowing just that Fritz Haber was the German Jewish chemist who won the Nobel Prize in 1918 and invented, among others, the “Zyklon B” gas, which the Germans used to exterminate thousands of people sharing his faith.
Thus starts a journey from Munich to Thessaloniki, with stops in Barcelona, Zurich, Brussels, Krumpendorf, and Rome, full of twists and surprises. The heterogeneous party’s cohesion is at stake over and over, due not only to the fear caused by their findings, but also to the growing suspicion about each one’s real role and the doubt about whether they should trust each other.
For Marianna, the biggest surprise is the appearance of her Nazi grandfather, a former SS officer and a confidant of Himmler, the existence of whom her mother and grandmother had concealed from her, each one for her own reasons. And here he is, in flesh and blood in front of her, in good shape despite his 90 years of age and fully devoted to the organization’s objective. Actually, the organization was founded by himself and other people sharing his beliefs after their WW II defeat, and is full with surviving Nazis, as well as descendants and imitators of theirs.
Marianna is facing a big dilemma. Much of what she has believed so far is tumbling down; her world is not what she thought it to be. Will she accept the new situation, or reject it and fight it, paying the inevitable price? What’s most important, though, is that together with her companions she must prove whether or not the ghost of Nazism is about to be brought back to life in today’s Europe.