Inspired by the incredible true story of a German teen taken prisoner at the end of WWII, determined to survive and to reunite with his mother – A Lightness in My Soul is a tribute to the triumph of hope and redemption against all odds.
Germany, October 2019: In a car repair shop an elderly man waits next to a woman. They begin to talk about the Great War, when he was just a teen. He tells her a story, one he has never shared—his own.
Bavaria, April 1945: For the last two years, fifteen-year old Arthur and his classmates have lived in a youth camp. Far from home and allied bombs they spend their days with lessons, hikes, play fights and helping local farmers harvest ever decreasing crops. They have been told that the war will be over soon and that they’ll return home to a victorious Germany.
When the U.S. Army marches into camp, they are arrested and taken to the just liberated Dachau concentration camp. Everything they ever believed turns out to be false. They were lied to… not only has Germany lost the war, what they find is monstrous. But being a prisoner is only the beginning of their ordeal…
The Hitler Youth ran the camp, and even Herr Wagner had to follow their orders. He was pretty strict, a tall, skinny guy with a stern mouth, his hair short and stubbly with graying temples. He’d look at you with those deep-set eyes and you’d shut up. But the camp leader, a fellow named Steinmann, outdid him by far. He didn’t even have to look to get his point across. When he showed up we all hushed, including our teacher.
How he did it, I don’t know. He wasn’t even particularly tall; in fact, most of us towered over him. But that didn’t seem to stop him from doling out punishment when he saw fit. And that was daily. His favorite was marching and standing at salute for hours at a time.
Half of Steinmann’s face was burned, leaving a pockmarked, scarred landscape that was rumored to be a war wound he’d suffered in one of the early battles in Poland. It made his face lopsided, having obliterated his right brow altogether. They say our eyes are windows into the soul, and that was the first time I believed it: Steinmann’s eyes were a metallic gray, cold and distant, and a little bit dead.
A Lightness In My Soul is eye-opening, heart-breaking and all together engrossing.
For anyone with an interest in the history of WWII, this perspective from a German teen puts war into perspective. There are no winners and losers and only loss and devastation. Putting aside judgement, and reading about how negatively and drastically WWII effected the German children is imperative to our growth as humans.
A Lightness In My Soul is an unexpected point-of-view that we should all look through and digest thoroughly. Highly recommend.
The author will be raffling off a $20 Amazon or B&N Gift Card during the book tour!
About the Author
Annette Oppenlander is an award-winning writer, literary coach and educator. As a bestselling historical novelist, Oppenlander is known for her authentic characters and stories based on true events, coming alive in well-researched settings. Having lived in Germany the first half of her life and the second half in various parts in the U.S., Oppenlander inspires readers by illuminating story questions as relevant today as they were in the past.
Oppenlander’s bestselling true WWII story, Surviving the Fatherland, received multiple nominations/awards. The recently translated German version received the silver Skoutz Award 2020. Uniquely, Oppenlander weaves actual historical figures and events into her plots, giving readers a flavor of true history while enjoying a good story.
Oppenlander shares her knowledge through writing workshops at colleges, libraries, festivals and schools. She also offers vivid presentations and author visits. The mother of fraternal twins and a son, she recently returned to her home, Solingen, Germany where she lives with her husband.
2017 National Indie Excellence Award
2017 Winner Chill with a Book Readers’ Award
2017 Kindle Book Awards Finalist
2017 Discovered Diamond Historical Novel
2018 Indie B.R.A.G. Award
2018 Readers’ Favorite Book Award—Bronze
2019 Global eBook Award—Gold
2020 Skoutz Award—Silver
IWIC Hall of Fame Novel
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