Reviewed By Darryl Greer for Readers’ Favorite
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.