Germania: A Novel, by Brendan McNally (Four stars), is a wonderful farce which skewers the vainglorious pomposity of the last days of the Reich. The murderous Nazi fantasy of “Aryan” Übermensch, made only too real by the willingness of so many Germans to do the Führer’s bloody work, resulted in millions of innocents murdered in cold blood. With the might of what Eisenhower called the “United Nations” brought against it, the Third Reich eventually had to collapse. Hitler committed suicide on 30 April 1945. In his political testament, he appointed Grand Admiral Dönitz as his successor. The Third Reich thus continued for another twenty days until the principals were arrested and jailed.
In those final twenty days, the Third Reich degenerated into a bizarre fantasy world in which men like Himmler hung around hoping Grand Admiral Dönitz might give them a job in the new government. This while Germany was being pounded into dust by the Allies, furious that the Germans wouldn’t give up. Dönitz, who should have been hanged as a war criminal instead of being sent to prison, set up the last government of the Third Reich in the Gymnasium of the German Naval Academy, located outside of Kiel in the suburb of Flensburg/Mürwik, where it is located to this day.
How to savage this absurdity? Author Brendan McNally does a masterful job by writing a fantastical novel told through the eyes of the Flying Magical Loerber Brothers. And quite the story they tell: the reptilian Albert Speer; the stupid, uncomprehending true believers; the pompous military men; the perpetrators of the foulest crimes of the 20th Century whining in self-justification; and the alcohol and drug fueled fanaticism of those who wanted to bring all of Germany into the abyss with them.
I’m a novelist myself and I don’t like many novels because they don’t hold my attention. This novel did. I enjoyed it immensely and as they say “I couldn’t put it down.” And I couldn’t. Well worth your time.