Save Me Twice

Based on a True Story

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
268 Pages
Reviewed on 03/31/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite

Save Me Twice: Based on a True Story by E.A. Dustin is an interesting novel set against the backdrop of Hitler’s Germany towards the end of WWII. Hitler is on the brink of losing the war and is doing everything to rally any remaining strength behind him. One fateful night, the SS knocks on the door of Karl, a sixteen-year-old boy, and forces him and his older brother, Hans, to join the German army. From then on, everything changes as the two brothers begin the most painful and gritty journey of their life at war, digging trenches to deter the Russian tanks. The two brothers are captured by the Russians, but Karl escapes the Russians and surrenders to the Americans as a prisoner of war. Will he be released to the Russians and will he live to see his older brother again?

E.A. Dustin’s novel offers readers a fresh look at some of the events of World War II and what many Germans felt like going to war or just merely being German. It wasn’t patriotism that drove the young Germans to join the army. They were forced by the SS. The author captures the general atmosphere of fear and the perils of being German during Hitler’s reign with vivid and compelling images. It is interesting to notice the historical references in the narrative, the lively dialogues, and the political setting, beautifully painted in simple and clear prose. Although this isn’t usually my kind of book, I found it intriguing because it explores an aspect of the war that is not much discussed in our history books. Save Me Twice: Based on a True Story is a gritty tale of war that explores the bonds of brotherhood, the tragedy of war, and resilience in the face of impossible odds.

Darryl Greer

Towards the end of World War II, Germany was on its knees but Hitler was hell bent on fighting to the death — literally. With millions of soldiers and civilians dead, and desperation taking hold, he ordered the roundup of every able bodied male in the country, including boys as young as 12. They were put in uniform, many in that of the fearsome SS, given a weapon they barely knew how to use and marched off to war. Against this background, author Elfriede Dustin has based her novel Save Me Twice. Three young German brothers, Karl, Hans and Hermann, hate the Nazis as much as anyone else. One day there is a knock on the door of their family home. The door is opened and they are confronted by a childhood friend and their Hitler Youth leader, Albert. Only Albert is now an SS-Scharführer. He has come to take Karl and Hans, both teenagers, off to the SS and to war. Their brother, Hermann, is wheelchair bound and he is to be taken somewhere else. Given what the Nazis do to vulnerable and disabled people, they fear the worst. In very short order, Karl and Hans are in uniform and given the most basic of training. As far as the Nazis are concerned, they’re ready for war. Two peace loving, family oriented teenagers are about to be thrust into a living nightmare of Kafkaesque proportions.

It is clear from the outset that this story has a ring of truth about it and that there is a connection between the author and the people about whom she writes. Really, this is Karl’s story and, in fact, samples of his handwritten notes of what happened during those dark days of his life appear at various stages of the book. It could almost pass as a biography. War stories now, some seventy-three years since the end of the conflict, are a bit old hat, although occasionally something extraordinary will turn up amongst the thousands of novels set in that period. Save Me Twice is a refreshing change in that it describes, in some detail, the plight of the German people themselves who hated the Nazis and what they had to suffer simply because they were German. It is a gripping tale which keeps you guessing right the way through as to what happens to Karl and his brothers. Save Me Twice is a fascinating and engaging read.

Jack Magnus

Save Me Twice: Based on a True Story is an historical fiction novel written by Elfriede Dustin. It was a sound everyone instinctively feared -- the repeated pounding on a door late at night and the harsh demands for entrance. Karl listened as his mother anxiously asked who was knocking, and knew that the answer would be the one they all dreaded -- the SS. Karl wondered why they would be there at this hour, at their house. He and his brother had been faithful attendees at the required Hitler Jugend meetings. They had not done anything to attract this visit. He was stunned to hear that the soldiers had indeed come for him and his brother, Hans, even more so when he recognized the voice of one of the soldiers; it was Albert, a childhood playmate who had been to their house many times before. Karl didn’t understand why they would be calling up young adults now, in 1944, when the war was nearly over. He and Hans were part of a last-ditch effort to shore up the border between Germany and the east. All boys aged 12 years and up were being conscripted, and their time had come.

Elfriede Dustin’s historical fiction novel, Save Me Twice: Based on a True Story, is an engrossing story based on her father’s own wartime experiences. She includes excerpts of his hand-written accounts throughout the story that serve to remind the reader that, yes, this did happen -- and here is a survivor’s account. I’ve long been a student of the Second World War and the Holocaust, and have read a number of historical accounts, but each one seems to bring me new insights into a tragedy that must never be forgotten. Save Me Twice is no exception. While I was familiar with accounts of German adults conscripted into the war, I had no direct knowledge of the experiences of those young people who were forced into action. I found Karl’s descriptions of Mauthausen chilling and unforgettable, and his final uncertain train ride in a cattle car was powerful and evocative. Save Me Twice: Based on a True Story is most highly recommended.

Ankita Shukla

World war stories have always fascinated and terrified us; however, reading the first-hand experience of someone who unwillingly became a participant in one of the wars is an entirely different encounter. The father of the author, Elfriede Dustin, was one such person who was forced to be a German soldier. Save Me Twice is a glimpse into those tough times with a few fictional twists. In a desperate attempt to delay the inevitable defeat, Hitler ordered all the boys from the age of 12 onwards to join the war. Although his order made no evident impact on the Russian and American armies, it definitely tore many families apart. Karl's family became one of those families. Karl and his brothers (Hans and Hermann) were forced to join the German Army as dictated by their leader, Hitler. Thus began a new and very disturbing chapter of Karl's life that would remain etched in his memories for as long as he would breathe.

Karl's memories of his time in World War II made me appreciate my comfortable life more than ever. A fanatic's actions threw a country known for its art and culture into sheer destruction and to what avail? Young boys, who were in no way prepared to handle weapons, were ordered to face an almost lost battle. These young boys had to witness the heart-wrenching sights of torture and shootings that even an adult couldn't have digested. With their lives at stake, the regular scarcity of food became the least of their worries. Save Me Twice, amidst all the chaos, manages to awaken one's lost faith in humanity. While the majority of soldiers were busy robbing and raping, a few soldiers ensured that they did not forget to extend the hand of kindness whenever they could. When survival became an issue, even then there were people who risked their own lives to help another unfortunate soul. However, Hitler's monstrous acts kept surfacing to make me shiver with grief and terror. There were things that I had heard, but reading about certain inhuman acts in black and white gave me goosebumps. The author has done complete justice with her father's dire memories. I am appalled by a leader's actions and touched by the pain and loss of innocent people. May the world never repeat this again!