Allow me to introduce you to a new author, Terri Wangard. Her debut novel, Friends and Enemies, released this week and I’m very excited for her. The story idea grew out of some letters written by Terri’s relatives during the second World War. She’s been working on this novel for several years now, and I highly recommend it. To give you a small taste of the story, here’s an interview with the book’s heroine, Heidi Wetzel. You’ll find a blurb and purchasing information at the end.
Heidi, was there any aspect of being at war that you did not anticipate?
The loneliness, or maybe I should say the aloneness. In Germany, we didn’t know who we could trust. We may have been good friends with our neighbors before, but during the Third Reich, we had to keep our opinions to ourselves. If our views did not agree with Nazi doctrine (and they didn’t), we could be denounced as traitors. If someone held a grudge against you, a trumped up charge might land you in a concentration camp with a good possibility of torture and death. Even relatives could betray you, intentionally or not. That happened to me.
What was your reaction when Hitler declared war on the United States?
Despair. Feeling sick to my stomach. Knowing for sure we’d lose the war. Being at war against England was bad enough. I didn’t know anyone there. But the United States! I knew a lot of Americans. And my generation bore the brunt of the fighting. That meant boys I’d gone to school with would be fighting us. Being at war with the U.S. meant no more mail service, so I lost touch with my American friends.
Why were you sure Germany would lose after the United States entered the war?
Common sense. Remember, I lived in the U.S. for three years. It’s a huge country, capable of massive manufacturing. America had already been helping the Allies with war material. Now they would work that much harder to supply themselves.
Hitler fancied himself a military genius, but his actions proved otherwise. When England refused to capitulate during the Battle of Britain, he quit the attack and declared war on Russia. If he couldn’t subdue one enemy, why should he think he could subdue two? Insanity. Pure insanity.
Your American friends urged you to return to the U.S. when the war began in 1939. Do you regret staying in Germany?
That’s a hard question. Life would have been easier for me. But what about my family? The children I helped care for? I believe caring for the children was my calling. I was able to do some good. What would I have done in the U.S., where I would have been an enemy alien? And if I had gone, what would have happened to Paul when he needed help?
Speaking of Paul, what about Erich? Do you think of him often?
Oh dear! I do wonder what life would be like if he still lived. I often think of how he died. That was so stupid of his commander. Diving their damaged submarine was suicidal. Why did he dive? He had no right to condemn his men like that. If he couldn’t face surrender, at least he could have allowed the crew to get off before he submerged. I would like to know what happened before they dove. Did Erich object? Did anyone? That still bothers me.
The Allies took command of the air over Germany in the years of the war. What was that like to see them overhead?
I was awestruck. That sounds horrible for a German to say, but it’s true. Those formations of bombers looked invincible marching across the sky. Oh, I saw some come down. A lot of them were shot down. But they kept coming. Since I spent much of the war in the countryside, I never experienced their bombing. Only one time was I under the bombs, and that was a British night raid.
You live in the States now. What are your thoughts about your homeland?
Germany lies in ruins, and that hurts my heart. So much was beautiful, and so much good came from Germany. The Gutenberg Bible, great hymns of the church. Now all people think of are the death camps. I don’t understand how so many people could work at those camps, agree with what they were doing. It’s unfathomable. What happened to people’s faith in God? Had it been destroyed by the Great War and its aftermath?
My hope is Germany will rise from the rubble, and work for peace, not for conquest. That great men like Martin Luther and Dietrich Bonhoeffer will lead people in the ways of God.
In 1943, widowed seamstress Heidi Wetzel finds new meaning in life by caring for evacuated children on a farm in war-torn western Germany. Never a supporter of National Socialism, she takes pleasure in passive resistance, but must exercise caution around neighbors who delight in reporting to the Gestapo.
Flying cadet Paul Bradel’s wife dies while he trains for the U.S. Army Air Corps. Following bereavement leave, he returns to B-17 “Flying Fortress” Bomber navigator training, but he’s lost his zest for life and heads to England, not caring whether he lives or dies. When he and his crew are shot down over Germany, he evades capture and for the first time since Rachel’s death, hears the voice of God whisper guidance: Find Heidi.
When Heidi stumbles into a man she recognizes, she’s shocked to realize he’s a friend from her high school days in the United States, and the husband of her best friend, Rachel. Aiding an enemy downed airman is punishable by execution, but she agrees to help.
Then they’re betrayed.
A war-time adventure with romantic second chances.
Purchase the book here.
Connect with Terri here.