– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m not on a blogtour, but I’m sharing a guest post written by Alan Jones, author of ‘Flight of the Shearwater’ to promote this book.
Before I let you read it, I’ll first post some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
Alan Jones is a Scottish author with three gritty crime stories to his name, the first two set in Glasgow, the third one based in London. He has now switched genres, and his WW2 trilogy will be published in August 2021. It is a Holocaust story set in Northern Germany.
He is married with four grown up children and four wonderful grandchildren.
He has recently retired as a mixed-practice vet in a small Scottish coastal town in Ayrshire and is one of the RNLI volunteer coxswains on the local lifeboat. He makes furniture in his spare time, and maintains and sails a 45-year-old yacht in the Irish Sea and on the beautiful west coast of Scotland. He loves reading, watching films and cooking. He still plays football despite being just the wrong side of sixty.
His crime novels are not for the faint-hearted, with some strong language, violence, and various degrees of sexual content. The first two books also contain a fair smattering of Glasgow slang.
He is one of the few self-published authors to be given a panel at Bloody Scotland and has done two pop-up book launches at the festival in Stirling.
He has spent the last five years researching and writing the Sturmtaucher Trilogy.
Flight of the Shearwater: Book 2 in the Sturmtaucher Trilogy, a powerful and compelling story of two families torn apart by evil.
With Poland divided between Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Union of Soviet Republics, the increasingly confident Third Reich flexes its military muscles northwards into Denmark and Norway, while the rest of Europe watches anxiously over its shoulders.
General Erich Kästner, in his key role in the Abwehr, is fast becoming aware of the mass expulsion of Jews and other minority groups from Germany and from northern Poland, to the new ghettos of the Generalgouverment area of southern Poland, and has an inkling of what the National Socialists’ have in mind for Europe’s Jews.
As Holland and Belgium fall, and the British are routed at Dunkirk, barely escaping across the channel, the seemingly impregnable France collapses under the Wehrmacht Blitzkrieg, sealing the fate of millions of Jews, now trapped under Hitler’s rule.
The Nussbaums, thwarted in their attempts to escape to Denmark, desperately seek other routes out of Germany but, one by one, they are closed off, and they realise they have left it all too late…
Guest Post :
THE REMARKABLE STOLPERSTEINES
Stolpersteine, German; stumbling stone or block.
I first came across these during my research for The Sturmtaucher Trilogy in early 2017. They are brass plaques installed in the pavement outside the last known address where a victim of the Holocaust lived, before being ‘taken’.
Conceived in 1993, by Artist Gunter Demnig, the first Stolpersteine was installed (without permission initially) in 1997 in Kreuzberg, Germany. During the last 25 years, Stolpersteine have been placed all over Europe; in at least 1200 places in Germany, as well as in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine. On 29 December 2019, the 75,000th Stolperstein was installed in Memmingen in Bavaria.
On the Kiel municipal site, every Stolpersteine in the city is listed along with photographs of the plaques and a biography of the victim, collated by the city’s schoolchildren in a project designed to be part of the curriculum. It is in German, but using the ‘translate’ page in Google allows you to read it in English. There are 270 in all.
When I visited Kiel as part of a research trip to Germany and Denmark in the Autumn of 2017, I made a point of visiting five or six of the addresses where Stolpersteine were installed, to pay my respects to the victims whose biographies had given me so much insight into the lives and deaths of the Jews of Kiel, who fell victim to the National Socialists’ Final Solution.
I stood watching for a while as passers-by walked over them, oblivious to the sad history they were treading on but, then, on occasion, someone would glance down, and stop, examining the object which they had tripped over, or felt through the soles of their shoes, or caught sight of in the rain-washed sunlight on the pavement ahead. They would turn and read the plaque, ignoring the stream of pedestrians flowing around them while they took in the stark, brutal, details; a date of birth, a name, the year of deportation and a place of death, more often than not at one of the Nazi’s concentration camps.
There is one plaque for each victim at each address. On the website, there is an explanation.
‘Stolpersteine commemorate individuals. The National Socialists wanted to exterminate people, turn them into numbers and erase their memory. Demnig wants to reverse this process and return individual names to places where people once lived.’
In whatever German or European city you visit, take a minute to look up the local list of Stolpersteine and perhaps pay a visit to one of them. Someone lived there once; a Jew, most likely, or a Sinti or Romani Gypsy. They were probably hauled out of their beds and placed in a truck, then a train, in a cattle car, and delivered to a ghetto in Poland, or Latvia, or elsewhere in Europe, or directly to a death camp like Chelmno, or Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they were murdered.
As I stood on Wilhelminenstraße, in the centre of Kiel, I studied the plaques commemorating Moritz Schnell, Herta Schnell, and Else Schnell, who were deported to Riga ghetto in 1941, where they perished, the bleak sadness of it was tempered by the knowledge that they were remembered.
I returned to my hotel. And I started writing.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds