Resistance Women is a well-researched, compelling novel that details life in Germany from the late 1920s through World War II. Since most World War II novels mainly take place during the war, Jennifer Chiaverini’s newest release offers a unique but insightful look into Hitler’s inexplicable rise to power. The novel also follows Mildred & Arvid Harnack, Greta & Adam Kuckoff, Martha Dodd & Sara Weitz’s Resistance efforts before and during the War.
Mildred & Arvid Harnack, Greta & Adam Kuckoff, and Martha Dodd’s portions of the novel are factual and based on real people. Mildred is an American whose husband Arvid is German. Following a long separation, they finally reunite in Germany in the late 1920s. Both are completing their doctorates and money is scarce as they struggle to find jobs. Mildred is particularly troubled by Adolf Hitler’s and the Nazi party’s rising popularity and she is one of the front-runners of the Resistance. Arvid also plays a valuable role in disseminating valuable information to outside countries.
Greta knows Mildred from her studies in the United States and both are delighted by their unexpected reunion. Greta becomes heavily involved with the theatre crowd where she falls in love with Adam. She and Adam are also quite vital to the efforts of the Resistance.
Martha is the daughter of the American Ambassador to Germany and at first, she is enthralled by the Nazi party. She is a true believer of their propaganda but after living in Germany, she is appalled when she learns the truth about the Nazis. She is a key figure to the Resistance since she is uniquely placed to pass along information that will be forwarded to the United States.
Sara is a fictional character, but she is an amalgamation of German women who are also part of the Resistance. She is also Jewish and despite the dire threat to her life and freedom, she remains quite active in the Resistance.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke
But as history and Resistance Women illustrate, there is far worse harm wrought by countries who do nothing in the face of evil. The information passed along by the Resistance is ignored and even worse is the absolute failure of numerous countries to react to Hitler’s continued aggression. As Mildred, Greta, Martha and Sara watch in horror, the majority of German citizens are completely mesmerised by Hitler and they are eager participants in his efforts to demonise and ultimately, exterminate, their Jewish population. Despite opportunities to leave Germany, the women and their husbands continue their efforts to thwart the evil that is being wrought by Hitler and the Nazi party.
Despite its length, Resistance Women is a mesmerising novel that is thought-provoking and quite informative. Jennifer Chiaverini provides readers with a bird’s eye view to Hitler’s unchecked rise to power and how eagerly the German citizens embraced his appalling anti-Semitic rhetoric. The novel also shines a bright light on the brave women who risked their lives to educate their fellow citizens and other countries to the atrocities Hitler and the Nazi party are perpetuating. An absolutely fascinating novel that I found impossible to put down and HIGHLY recommend.