Anna's Bear

5 Days of Moral Conflict And Pursuit, Nazi Germany, 1939

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
299 Pages
Reviewed on 12/24/2014
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Anna's Bear: 5 Days of Moral Conflict And Pursuit, Nazi Germany, 1939 is a historical novel written by O.W. Shumaker. Inga Salzer is a student nurse who is thrilled to be pregnant with a child sired by an SS Officer. She's on her way to a maternity Lebensborn in a remote village in the Black Forest, far from the Munich she knows so well. Max Drexel is a young man whose Hitler Youth activities have dominated his life, except for his interactions with his young sister, two-year-old Anna, whom he dotes upon. Steffin Lindeman is the pastor of a large church in Heidelberg, who has been consciously adopting the new German version of Christianity, even though it conflicts with much he's learned before. Each of them is trying to work for the good of the nation and follow the rules of its leaders, but all will have a crisis of faith that compels them to re-examine those beliefs and step out for what is good.

O.W. Shumaker's historical novel, Anna's Bear: 5 Days of Moral Conflict And Pursuit, Nazi Germany, 1939, is moving and unforgettable. I've read many historical novels and histories concerning WWII and the Holocaust, and I was thrilled to discover the direction the author took in this novel. His characters are compelling and courageous as they begin to think for themselves and risk all to become ethical and caring individuals. Shumaker's storytelling skills are prodigious. His writing is fluid, steady and measured, and the descriptions of the Black Forest where much of the action takes place are inspired. I won't be forgetting Max and the other characters in Anna's Bear: 5 Days of Moral Conflict And Pursuit, Nazi Germany, 1939 anytime soon, and I'm looking forward to reading more works by O.W. Shumaker. Anna's Bear is most highly recommended.

Viga Boland

Few things give me more pleasure than curling up in bed at night with a good book, and Anna's Bear by O.W. Shumaker is a really good book. O.W. Shumaker hooked me with his opening paragraph where a band of gypsies “stared wide-eyed at the man poised before them”. First question of course was “why”? After that, I couldn’t wait to get to bed each night to keep reading Anna's Bear.

A “what’s going to happen next” momentum propels this book forward page after page. Anna's Bear never gets bogged down, even when there are a lot of characters. O.W. Shumaker shifts back and forth between these characters constantly. He handles the transitions in short snippets about what each character is doing, thinking and feeling. In the hands of a less skilled writer, the reader could get lost or annoyed, but O.W. Shumaker makes sure that never happens to us. Each of the characters emerges as real. We relate to their conflicts between what they've been taught or are expected to believe and what their gut is telling them: that something is very rotten in Hitler’s Germany.

The action in Anna's Bear takes place over only 5 days in 1939. A young man, a Hitler Youth, risks everything to save his 2-year-old sister stricken with meningitis from the sure death she will face as Hitler’s doctors focus on the mandate to cleanse the Aryan race of imperfection. If the imperfection is a child, no big deal. She must go. The scenes depicted in the hospital wards are frightening, as revolting as is the practice of having women whose only jobs are to be impregnated by the highest ranking SS officers again and again. This is the way to ensure healthy, brilliant children for the future of the Third Reich. And these brainwashed women believe in the nobility of what they are doing. It’s their duty and they don’t dare fail. These impossible situations are explored in Anna's Bear by O.W. Shumaker in a story that is utterly riveting and eye-opening. I couldn’t put this book down. Just a great read.

Cheryl E. Rodriguez

O.W. Shumaker’s Anna’s Bear shines in the midst of the darkness of Germany’s Third Reich. Five days are a lifetime for the innocent two-year-old Anna. Her young, frail life is teetering in the balance, a specimen, locked away in an experimental hospital. Some people believe that, due to her sickness, she must be “removed” for the sake of Germany. No one seems to care. After all, the children of the Third Reich must be perfect; if not, they must be discarded. Her brother Max however, thinks otherwise. He risks everything and kidnaps Anna from the hospital. Hunted by the Gestapo, they seek refuge deep within the Black Forest. On the run, trying to reach the Swiss border, Max is alone and out of control for the first time in his life – nothing is going as planned! When all seems hopeless, a pastor, a gypsy, and a distraught woman unexpectedly cross Max and Anna’s path. It’s nothing short of a miracle what happens next. It is amazing what a little honey can do.

Anna’s Bear captures your heart and soul - your heart will race and your soul will cry out for life of this little girl. O.W. Shumaker portrays Anna's Bear: 5 Days of Moral Conflict And Pursuit, Nazi Germany, 1939 in a “keep you on the edge of your seat” manner. So much transpires in such a short time frame. The characters of this narrative are precisely woven together. Their individual stories run parallel to each other, intersecting at just the right moment within the plot. As their lives unfold, and simultaneously overlap one another, the plot action heightens. A few of the characters are dynamic, having drastic and dramatic character transformations. These life-altering changes are brought on by distinctive “aha” moments. While others remain static and unchanged caught up in the web of lies of the Nazi regime. Justice is served in a downward spiraling, run for your life ending. Shumaker researched his story well, it is not your usual Nazi Germany tale. He writes Anna’s Bear with clever intelligence and passion.

Heather Osborne

Anna’s Bear: 5 Days of Moral Conflict and Pursuit, Nazi Germany, 1939 by O.W. Shumaker is a harrowing novel about five people crossing paths in an unlikely way. When Max Drexel’s two-year-old sister, Anna, becomes ill with meningitis, his family turns her over to an S.S. doctor. The doctor promises to cure Anna, but the truth is he plans nothing of the sort. Max embarks on a daring kidnapping and escape plan with his little sister. Aided by Inga Salzer, a young woman who has given her virginity for the betterment of the Aryan race, the pair races to the Swiss border, closely pursued by Gestapo Chief Karl Zorn. Max and Inga receive the unlikely help of a pastor as they sprint for freedom and Anna’s life. Will they make it to the border in time or will the Gestapo win?

Mr. Shumaker certainly tells a fast-paced and exciting tale. I have a personal passion for learning about the Holocaust and Third Reich so I was especially interested to read his book. I was not disappointed. The story is complete with many twists and turns that will leave the reader wondering what will happen to our unlikely heroes. It is certainly a different kind of story, focusing on the questioning and change of belief during this dark period of history. I loved that the author kept with the historical aspect of the period while inserting his own characters into the mix. The ending certainly was not what I expected. Anna’s Bear is an amazing novel of people coming together to save the life of one little girl.

Lex Allen

A microcosmic story of Nazi Germany set primarily in Heidelberg in 1939, Anna’s Bear by O.W. Shumaker is, in fact, an overarching drama of history throughout Germany and Europe during Adolf Hitler’s reign of terror. Max Drexel is a young man on the verge of full participation in Hitler’s machine through his membership and training as a Hitler Youth. Inga Salzer is intent on serving the Third Reich, and her own interests, as a breeder of Aryan pure babies in the “Lebensborn” program. She’s pregnant by an SS Officer and finds herself confined to a small birthing facility, far away from her beloved Heidelberg. Steffin Lindeman has thrown his ministerial training behind the newly defined German Christianity that mixes Aryan mythology and history with Protestant Christianity. Steffin soon realizes the error of his ways when little Anna, Max’s toddler sister, becomes ill. She is promptly taken away to a special clinic, controlled by Dr. Eberhard. Anna has become a pawn in Eberhard’s euthanasia research. A story about Nazi Germany would not be complete without a Gestapo character and Heidelberg’s Gestapo Chief Zorn is the embodiment of the men who operated within this brutal ministerial department of Hitler’s machine.

A twentieth century history buff and resident of Germany for forty of the last forty-five years (many of those years in Heidelberg), I was impressed with Mr. Shumaker’s attention to detail throughout this excellently told tale. Each of the impressively described characters came across as real people, readily identifiable to a broad range of readers. I was particularly attentive to the author’s style of telling each of the characters' stories in separate chapters before bringing them together in the end. Mr. Shumaker kept everything in sequence and synchronization right up to an utterly unexpected and thoroughly satisfying conclusion. Wow! A small word that carries significant weight and perfectly describes this reading adventure. For a first-time novelist, this is extraordinarily good writing. I’ll be looking for more from Mr. Shumaker and I hope he continues in this genre and style. Highly recommended for readers of historical novels, action/adventure tales, drama and/or a damned fine story, regardless of genre.