The End of Law by Therese Down
About this book: (from the publisher) Berlin, 1933: as Hitler rises to power; the law–designed to protect and serve–becomes twisted to the will of those who dream of a pure Aryan race.
SS Officer Walter Gunther is intensely loyal to the Third Reich. His readiness to kill without question or remorse would seem to make him the ideal candidate to lead the T4 euthanasia programme. SS officer Karl Muller, a trainee doctor and engineer, is also brought into the programme, and assured that his work is consistent with the Hippocratic oath he’s due to take.
Their mandate: to kill the “unworthies”–not just the Jews, but crippled children, the mentally ill, homosexuals. Hedda, Walter’s wife and old acquaintance of Karl, has no idea of what their work entails. Until, that is, the fate of their families is at stake, and each must confront afresh the choices they have made.
This dark, tense novel is a compelling story of human tragedy, and man’s potential to revel in, or fight against, the evil actions of a corrupted nation.
About the author: Therese Down is currently working as the Head of English at a High School in England and has been teaching English Literature and Language for over twenty years in a range of schools and colleges. She holds a MA in Employment Law and is experienced in personnel management.
Genre: Fiction/Historical Fiction
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: PG
[Tweet “Dark tale of Hitler’s Germany a timely reminder for today’s citizen. @KregelBooks”]
Reflection: I have a mixed reaction after reading this book. On the one hand, it’s an important book. It took courage to write it, and it takes courage to read it. It’s an unflinching look at the brutal, evil operations of the Nazi regime — with a focus on the infamous T4 euthanasia programme — from insiders’ perspectives. It delves into quite a bit of detail, and the plot is unrelenting as the programme’s aim hits close to home for one woman’s family.
It’s a dark tale, as it must be, right up until its bleakly appropriate ending.
It’s not a novel meant to be enjoyed, I think, but rather to expose and to challenge. Grim subject matter aside, however, I could not get into this novel as I’d hoped. Its ramp-up was slow, the destination unclear. I found the narrative disjointed and confusing as it jumped from one person’s perspective to another within the same scenes. Perhaps this reflects more on me as a reader than it does on the book, but there it is. I couldn’t latch onto any of the main characters either.
I did, however, experience the appropriate amount of horror as previously unknown details were revealed, which has left a new mark on my psyche. I also deeply appreciated its naming of several brave souls — especially Christians — who spoke up, who acted, who sacrificed to make a difference. And its timely reminder that all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing. We would do well today to take this message to heart, and if this is every reader’s takeaway, then surely The End of Law achieved its aim.
Thanks to Kregel Publications/Lion Fiction for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
To purchase The End of Law, click here.
After words: When you consider the lessons to be learned from history, and WWII in particular, what is the first one that comes to mind?