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Memories of Destroying Hitler - an Editorial Review of "The Road Remembered"

Book Blurb:

Love and humanity triumph amid the atrocities of World War II.

In the final months of World War II, Sam Ryan takes his place as a new soldier in the 89th Infantry Division on the front lines in Europe. He's trained to kill but struggles with the thought of taking the life of another human being, a contradiction with the way he was raised. How, he wonders, will he ever reconcile the action his head dictates with the way his heart feels about it?

On the other side of the war, Gerda Ziegler's heart aches over the monster her beloved Germany has become. But she confronts the Nazi soldiers who guard the Jewish-only sector in Zwickau and is appalled to learn that a Jewish baby will be killed because of a large birthmark. Can she manage to whisk the child away right under the noses of the brutal Nazis?

Sam and Gerda face their enemies head-on, but they also battle internal elements on their own sides of the fighting that violate their shared values of humanity. They meet under the worst of circumstances but find a way to help each other through the trauma of war.

Editorial Review:

What you and your fellow soldiers did during World War II hasn't happened in any wars since. Your entire generation had a common purpose. Have you ever thought about that?”

This book is definitely one of memories, of recalling the past and of lives lost, and how World War II changed lives forever. The author introduces us to Sam Ryan, an elderly man in his nineties, traveling with his daughter, Suzanne, to attend a gathering of his former 'band of brothers', those still surviving, in remembrance of their days fighting near the end of WWII. For her entire life, Suzanne never heard the stories, since her father remained quite tight-lipped about his experiences, focusing instead on his life after the war instead of those painful memories of the past.

But now, while traveling back to Zwickau, close to the Czech border, the last town they freed from the Germans, Sam's recollection spills out as he tells his daughter all about his time there. He fills in his story with an account of basic training, of meeting his fellow bunkmates, and of falling in love with a gorgeous USO girl, who became his wife before he left for the front, as well as his eye-opening indoctrination into combat as their troupe fought on the front lines.

But nothing could have prepared me for the devastation I witnessed. Empty shells of former homes bared their souls to us through the remaining one or two walls and exposed the remnants of lives cut short. Black filth covered everything except the trash, unearthed and blowing in the cold wet wind.

Next, we meet a young German girl named Gerda, whose parents run a bakery in Zwickau right at the cusp of the outbreak of the war, and whose best friends live and run a store right next to theirs, but who are also Jews. During the preliminary years of the war, Gerda watches in horror as her friends are forced from their homes into the nearby “caged” area reserved for the Jews, and then onward to the camp at Buchenwald. Even though Gerda and her family are innately German, she determines in short order to find a way to help not only her friends, but to help the children corralled into this horror. Before long, Gerda finds herself working shoulder to shoulder with the resistance, helping hundreds and hundreds of children escape the camp... but, in the meantime, she also finds herself falling in love with a young German soldier who guards the camp.

For a while, the reader is left wondering how these two stories relate, but Ms Schmitz does this seamlessly, entwining Sam's past history with Gerda's rescue efforts. Not only do you get an honest picture of life for the soldiers, some mere inexperienced boys taking their first steps from home, but you also get a look at the pained heart of many Germans who did not agree with the things happening to their country or with Hitler's ideologies.

In every sense of the word, both Sam and Gerda are naive to the realities, until both are forced to face some horrific truths – Sam, with the gritty, stark, cold, bloody, “kill or be killed” landscape before him, and Gerda with the evil, black, inhuman nature of the Nazis, and that of her own husband. And both come face-to-face with their own future, which transforms them both from innocent to worldly-wise, practically overnight.

The Road Remembered is a true “band of brothers” story, reminiscent of “Saving Private Ryan”, which oddly, is the same namesake as the character in this story – Sam Ryan – as well as a touching story about the underground resistance groups who fought to save countless thousands of children, trekking them through dark tunnels and dangerous forest paths to safety in France and other parts of the world. Bravo to Ms Schmitz who weaves Gerda and Sam's story together in the end (no spoilers) in a way that is quite unexpected, but one that leaves the reader quite satisfied with a heart full of touching moments in stark contrast to the grimness of the Nazi ideals. The author truly brings these two characters to life, using real-life stories from real soldiers and resistance fighters to flesh them out, and giving the entire story a beautiful arc worthy of five stars. Not to mention, the descriptive passages immerse the reader into the setting in a very skillful way. Highly recommended.

Then the anger set in, first at Rudy, who brought us to view these appalling areas. But my anger transformed very quickly into understanding that he wanted witnesses to the brutalities he had lived with for years. That I didn't want to see it, or even acknowledge it, didn't change the fact that it had happened. Showing us these horrible tings was his way of ensuring the world found out about it and never forgot. Much like Eisenhower's press corps taking pictures for posterity.


The Road Remembered by Kaye D. Schmitz received five stars from The Historical Fiction Company and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence.


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Author Bio:

KAYE SCHMITZ is the author of the award-winning novels, THE CONSORT CONSPIRACY and ON DEADLY GROUNDS, winning both the prestigious Literary Titans award and Florida Authors and Publishers Award. Active in the writing community, she is a member of the Florida Writers’ Association, Sisters in Crime national, Northeast Florida Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and Women’s Fiction Writers’ Association. She is also an active speaker and teaches a writer’s workshop titled, “Fiction Writing Tips and Techniques That Work!!” Ms. Schmitz makes her home in St. Augustine, FL, where she lives with her husband, Michael, and close to their two grown children and four grandchildren.


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