Blog 72 22/10/2018 A LITERARY WORLD: WWII The Darkest Hour. An Interview with Marion Kummerow
A LITERARY WORLD: WWII The Darkest Hour. An Interview with Marion Kummerow
Ten bestselling historical fiction authors have come together to give you a glimpse of the invisible side of WWII – the Resistance.
***All proceeds will be donated to the Washington Holocaust Museum ***
I am honoured to have as my guest on A LITERARY WORLD: WWII The Darkest Hour, author Marion Kummerow, an accomplished WWII author with many novels to her name. It was Marion who initiated the idea for the soon-to-be released anthology, Tales of Resistance: WWII The Darkest Hour. Inspired by the brave actions of men, women, and adolescents who fought against the occupying Axis powers around the world, ten WWII authors have come together to present you with a collection of riveting novellas that will make you hold your breath and hope for the best in the darkest of times, when everything is at stake and where the price of freedom is a fighter’s life and more. Without more ado, let me introduce you to her.
Welcome to A LITERARY WORLD: WWII The Darkest Hour, Marion It’s a pleasure to have you with us.
1. Tell us about your background.
I’m German and grew up in a picturesque little town in the Black Forest, before I moved away from home at eighteen to conquer the world. I always had a tremendous drive to travel and have lived in half a dozen countries. In the new millennium I returned to Germany and settled in Munich where I still live today.
2. What is it that inspires you to write about WWII?
My first trilogy “Love and Resistance in WW2 Germany” is based on the true story of my grandparents who fought against Hitler. This was a taboo topic in my family, since they had been on the “wrong” side of the resistance, working together with Russia. Only after the Fall of the Wall did I get to know the details about their heroic struggle.
But it would take many years before I had gathered the courage to finally write down their story in fictionalized form.
3. Where are your novels set?
Most of my novels take place in Germany, as this is the country I know best and there are so many stories to be told. It may not be the obvious choice like the French Resistance, but I want to show how things could get so bad in a seemingly civilized country. It’s not easy to put ourselves in their shoes and everyone wants to think of themselves to act like heroes, but probably not all of us would have.
I love to put my heroes and heroines between a rock and a hard place. It shows the moral dilemmas they had to face, because nothing – not even war and the Nazis – are either black or white. In reality our life is full of shades of grey.
4. Without giving anything away, what is your anthology novella about?
Sabine Mahler is a woman like you and me, living in Berlin. She has been put to work for the war effort in an ammunition factory and she believes that nothing will happen to her as long as she keeps her head down and her nose out of other people’s business.
But this notion of safety is shattered the day when the Gestapo kidnaps her husband and “offers” her to work for them, infiltrating a resistance organization, in exchange for his life.
Suddenly she has to make one impossible decision after another.
5. What sort of research did the story require?
All my stories require a crazy amount of research, because I want to get everything historically right. I researched old maps to get the exact location and layout of the Gestapo headquarters, found photographs of the building and even of the inside, which is featured on the book cover. I went back and forth finding out how long it would take to travel from one point to another one, etc. Thankfully, some of the research I had already done for previous books, as this is a spin-off to my War Girl series.
5. Are the characters based on real people?
Not Sabine and her husband, but some of the side characters are. Priest Bernau is based on a real catholic priest who worked at the Plötzensee prison and also was part of an underground organisation that hid Jews. Ursula Klausen, one of the women Sabine has to spy on, was mentioned in one of my grandmother’s letters as “The Blonde Angel”, a kind-hearted prison guard.
7. What is the most challenging aspect of writing about WWII?
I would say – apart from the emotional drain – it’s the need for accuracy. Since there’s still people alive from that period of life and almost every reader knows or knew a survivor, they expect nothing but historical accuracy.
8. Do you think fiction helps us understand the past?
I really, really hope it does. Part of my mission in life is not only to write entertaining novels, but also to educate people about the horrors of the past. If we can nip the first sign of fascism and dictatorship in the bud, we’ll hopefully all live in a better and more peaceful world.
9. Can you tell us about your other WWII novels?
I already mentioned my trilogy about my grandparents: Unrelenting, Unyielding and Unwavering. Then I started a spin-off series called War Girls, the first book being about the above mentioned “Blonde Angel” in War Girl Ursula. What was originally planned as a three-book series has now already seven published books with five more in the works.
10. What’s next for you?
Well, once I finish the War Girls series (hopefully in 2019), I want to write a series about Margarete Rosenbaum, a German Jew.
She features in a short story that was originally part of the anthology Pearl Harbor and more, and since Turning Point takes place in 1941, she has 4 more years of war ahead of her.
Thank you for being my guest, Marion. We wish you every success and look forward to the upcoming anthologly.