Friday, April 9, 2010

A Little History

My children didn't get breakfast this morning before going to school, but I DID have enough time to put together a little history for you on The White Rose (don't worry, I'm making it up to them by bringing them Subway sandwiches and milkshakes for lunch).

Though the following people are not the main characters of 'Silent No More', they form the factual foundation on which my story rests:
“Die Sonne Scheint Noch” (The sun still shines).These were some of the last words uttered by Sophie Scholl just before she was beheaded at the notorious Stadelheim Prison in Munich on Feb. 22, 1943. She was executed along with her brother, Hans, and Christoph Probst, another co-conspirator, for treason against the Third Reich. Sophie, Hans, Christoph, Willi Graf, Alexander Schmorell, and Kurt Huber all shared one common dream – to one day see their beloved country torn from the iron grip of Adolf Hitler and a Nazi war machine that was out of control. All of them paid for their dissension with their lives.
Over the course of about 10 months, from the summer of 1942 to February 1943, this small group of mostly university students drafted, published and distributed several leaflets decrying the war and Hitler’s regime from its headquarters in Munich. (I use the term ‘headquarters’ loosely, as there was never one designated place where the group met and drafted the leaflets. Sometimes it was in the secrecy of a small apartment and other times in the secluded basement of a friend).
Referring to itself as The White Rose (Die Weisse Rose), the group called on Germans everywhere to rise up and passively resist Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime. “We will not be silenced. We are your bad conscience,” Hans and Alex wrote in the first leaflet. As the war grew worse and news of the Jewish atrocities more severe, The White Rose redoubled its efforts, distributing leaflets to other like-minded groups as far north as Hamburg.
The Gestapo, or German Secret Police, eventually caught up with the Scholls after a janitor spied them secretly distributing leaflets at the University of Munich on Feb. 18, 1943. They were arrested, along with Probst, who was implicated by the draft of new leaflet he had written that was discovered in Hans’ pocket. Within four days of their arrest, the three were tried in a kangaroo court and executed a few hours after their conviction. Graf, Schmorell and Huber were later found, tried and executed as well. Hans’ last words were, “Es lebe Freiheit!” (Long live freedom!).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Book

Elisabeth ‘Elsie’ Bauer is an ambitious college graduate from Colorado. With her degree in hand and a deep desire to leave the scars of the past behind her, she is ready to head to New York to begin a career in journalism as a fledgling reporter. But she veers off course when a celebratory trip to Europe turns into a nightmare, leaving her stranded in a strange place with no memory of her life. As Elsie struggles to figure out her past, she meets a rag-tag group of young idealists on the verge of facing down the most heinous regime in history. In a world where tyranny reigns and certain death awaits the tiniest of missteps, Elsie realizes that courage comes in many forms, as does love.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Welcome to Silent No More

The idea for this book was actually conceived more than 20 years ago, when I was just 15 years old. I was riding my bike through my neighborhood in Plano, Texas, and I was passing by a small wooded area away from the rest of the homes. As I rode along, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a young man step out of the woods. It was one of those moments in life that seems to go by in slow motion. He wore a German World War II uniform - even with that short glimpse, I knew that's what it was since I had seen many of those kinds of uniforms displayed in museums and old photos when I lived in Germany. It also looked like some sort of machine gun was slung over his shoulder. I guess I should have been scared, but it all happened too fast. I slammed on my brakes and looked back over my shoulder. His face was expressionless as he stared at me. Then, he just turned away, walked back into the treeline and disappeared. Was he some guy taking part in a freakish reinactment somewhere? Was he a weirdo? Was he a ghost? To this day, I have no explanation for what I saw. I often rode my bike past that spot to see if he would ever come back (as a parent, I'd be mortified if my child did that today), but I never saw him again.

That image, and a desire to build a fictional story around a real group of rebellious young university students in World War II Munich, Germany, drove me to write this book. Indeed, it wasn't until I finished my last revision (of course, I'm sure once a publisher gets ahold of it, there will be many more) that I truly felt released from some sort of life-long compulsion to tell this story.

Anyway, as we go along, I'll be posting little bits and pieces of the story, as well as some background info on the real people depicted in the novel. This blog is also a forum for your feedback, as Silent No More is, as yet, an unpublished novel. My hope is that, at some point, you'll be interested enough to want to read the book. So please, enjoy!