Nazi Germany and the Second World War, for writers of both book and screen, seem to be the gift that just keeps on giving. The Boy in Striped Pyjamas, the Book thief, the amount of stories set during this period is endless. The Vanishing Sky, written by L. Annette Binder, stands as another fictional book set during this tumultuous time.
The story takes place in the last year of the Second World War in Europe. By this time the Soviets were penetrating Germany’s Eastern border, the Americans and British moving in from the West. Meanwhile city after city was in the process of being razed by the Allied bomber force. In this setting of complete Armageddon, the readers are introduced to the Huber family, a simple German family living in Heidenfeld.
Etta Huber, the matriarch of the family, the first of the main characters that are introduced is a woman suffering from increasing anxiety which no surprise is considering the circumstances; she runs a household while simultaneously worrying about her three male family members. There is her husband Josef, a former teacher and ex soldier. Most likely a veteran of the First World War Josef suffers from dementia and has become increasingly nationalistic. Though certainly not a main character, the reader is given a glimpse into his perspective, mainly his desire to assert himself and not to feel like a mockery due to his memory loss. Max is the couple’s eldest son. A veteran of the Second World War, Max has been discharged due to an emotional collapse which manifests itself into PTSD.
Georg, the younger Huber son is the secondary main character; a member of the Hitler Youth, Georg doesn’t look like a typical Hitler Youth member. With brown eyes and expanding waistline he has very little of the Aryan warrior caricature in him. He is also a homosexual which under Nazi Germany was a criminal offense. The story finds Georg away from his family at an elite training facility. Not keen to give it all up for Fuhrer, Volk und Fatherland, Georg decides to desert and make his way home. For some reason upon reading his story arc I was reminded of what I read about the young Pope Benedict XVI who was also a member of the Hitler Youth and also deserted.
The Vanishing Sky presents a decent portrayal of what life must have been like for the everyday people in Nazi Germany during the waning months of the war. It captures the confusion of the war and utter hopelessness of the German people. It is a relatively short book and an easy read.
|Author||L. Annette Binder|