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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Traitors for the Sake of Humanity: A Novel of the German Resistance to Hitler by Helena P. Schrader is a well-researched, historical novel that tells the story of the few brave people who opposed Hitler. The story follows a cast of interesting characters from different backgrounds, from professors to the clergy, from a General Staff Officer to homemakers, from ordinary men and women to generals in the Nazi hierarchy. These people shared a common denominator: their hatred for Hitler and everything he stood for. As each storyline in this novel develops, the characters begin to understand that there are many others like them and that there are people within Hitler’s organization that are as willing to sink him as they are. Follow these characters as they build up a shadowy resistance in a world filled with oppression and moral poverty; but can they succeed in damaging Hitler’s war machine?
From the very beginning, the author shares information about how the research for this book was done and provides very interesting facts, both about the stories and her sources, including the German military archives and interviews with people who lived through the era, people who became her friends in the process. The novel is well-plotted and the setting is beautifully written, with the locales, the social atmosphere, and the things that punctuated life in the era skillfully captured. The author fills the writing with strong imagery, and from the sound of the train to the image of Altdorf and its styles, the reader gets a clear image of place and time. The themes are well written and they include the nature of evil, the strength of moral conscience, the power of self-deception, and humanity.
Helena P. Schrader has a wonderful gift for character and I enjoyed following Philip Freiherr von Feldburg, a German General Staff Officer, and his mother Sophia Maria Freifrau von Felding, the coachman Josef and other staff at the Feldburg Schloss, Father Matthias, Prof. Dr. Moldenauer, and his wife, and other characters. The exploration of these characters as they navigated a dangerous and treacherous environment is wonderful and the author captures their emotions, their fears, and hopes in a way that conveys their humanity brilliantly. Traitors for the Sake of Humanity takes readers from Altdorf to Berlin, to West Prussia, to Crepon, France, to Yulov, and many other places. This is a novel with compelling historical elements and characters who communicate the message that evil does not triumph over the goodness of the human heart. The characters are nuanced, the writing is superb, and the plot is so well written that it forces the reader to keep on turning the pages. This is one of the best books I have read about the Nazi era.