Half Notes from Berlin
A historical fiction novel about the beginning of the Nazi regime, by author B.V. Glants
One hundred- and two-year-old Hans, a half-Jew, half-German, veteran of the second world war, vowed never to speak about his life during the Third Reich. But, facing isolation during the Covid19 pandemic lockdown, he decided to tell his story of the beginning of the Nazi regime. Hans recalls his youth in 1933, shortly after Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany and new laws were passed to control the ‘undesirables’ of society.
In 1933, fifteen-year-old Hans barely even notices the divisions in society until one day his teacher rages about the Jews and tears down the national flag of Germany, replacing it with a large swastika. Hans believes he and his family are true-blooded Germans, and are safe from persecution, as he witnesses increasing hostility towards the Jewish community and his Jewish classmates. When Hans overhears a conversation between his parents, he learns of his true Jewish heritage, as his maternal grandparents converted from Judaism to Christianity before his birth. As Hans tries to keep his Jewish ancestry secret, he takes a stand against the brutality of the regime, and befriends and falls in love with a local Jewish girl, Rebecca. But as tensions grow at home and at school, Hans is forced to abandon his relationship with Rebecca and is pressured, and eventually tricked, into joining the Hitler Youth.
Half Notes from Berlin is a moving, historical fiction novel set in 1933 about a young boy coming of age during the beginning of the Nazi regime. Beautifully written by B.V. Glants, the story is told through the eyes of fifteen-year-old Hans, as he comes to terms with his Jewish heritage and navigates life in a frightening new world. Hans experiences a number of major events in a relatively short period of time: learning of his secret Jewish ancestry, his first kiss and first love, the decline of his family’s business, and his mother’s illness. All set against the backdrop of the violence and brutality of the Nazi regime. Glants describes Hans inner turmoil and despair respectfully and with compassion, as he grapples with his conscience whether to conform and protect himself and his family, or whether to stand up against the oppressive regime.
Star rating: 5 Stars
Summary: A beautifully written and moving historical fiction novel about a young boy coming of age during the beginning of the Nazi regime.