"This book is historical fiction with a capital ‘H’. It’s a fictionalised account of the end of the Second World War in Europe, of the camps in Britain where German military prisoners were held, and of the persistence of fanatical self-delusion that refused to die in the minds of the captured SS."
"All over Britain, POW camps are filling up with defeated German soldiers. Every day, thousands more pour in on ships from France. But only the most dangerous are sent to Camp 21 - 'black' prisoners - SS diehards who've sworn death before surrender. Nothing will stop their war, unless it's a bullet. As one fanatic plots a mass breakout and glorious march on London, Max Hartmann dreams of the oath he pledged to the teenage bride he scarcely knows and the child he's never met. Where do his loyalties really lie? To Hitler or to the life he left behind in the bombed ruins of his homeland? Beneath the wintry mountains, in the hell of Black Camp 21, suspicion and fear swirl around like the endless snow. And while the Reich crumbles - and his brutal companions plan their assault - Max's toughest battle is only just beginning"
This book is historical fiction with a capital ‘H’. It’s a fictionalised account of the end of the Second World War in Europe, of the camps in Britain where German military prisoners were held, and of the persistence of fanatical self-delusion that refused to die in the minds of the captured SS. These were young men who dreamed of a Nazi resurgence that could rescue the War, even beyond D-day and in spite of Hitler’s death. The story is told mainly through the eyes of a fictional character. It builds to a brutal act that, by its nature, exposed and illustrated the mindset of those SS prisoners in a way that mere words could never do.
The book is well written (although with some temporal confusion at the start and a somewhat cavalier attitude to point of view in places.) There are some rather gory scenes, so perhaps not for the sensitive or squeamish reader.
In an early scene, two friends meet after a long separation. One says to the other: ‘I met the Führer, Max. He spoke to me.’ A kernel of subtext that tells us everything we need to know about the speaker.
The book pulls no punches. I found certain passages in the early chapters reminiscent of Sven Hassel’s uncompromising accounts. I recommend this book as historical fiction, but also as a solid account of a little-known post-war episode in British history.
As an interesting read it is quite brilliant.
© J J Toner