In the final months of World War II, young LDS widow Gerda Brendler is searching for her only child, taken by the Nazis for his perfect Aryan characteristics—blue eyes and blond hair.
Levi Zuckerman, a Jewish soldier in the Soviet Army, saves Gerda and another woman from an attack by two of his commanding officers, but he must nearly kill both men to do so. Levi and Gerda hide in the East German mission home. Born and raised in Berlin, Levi wants to find his parents but fears the worst.
A treasure more valuable than gold or art is missing—genealogical records stolen by Hitler from Germany’s churches. Mission president Erick Ranke must locate those records before the Soviets do.
Lives are inextricably connected in this thrilling novel about the power of covenants and conviction.
I enjoyed this book from start to finish. Darryl Harris's attention to historical detail is excellent, but what really touched me were the characters in this fascinating story. Gerda is brave and strong and stalwart in her faith. Levi has the courage to risk his life to save others. Erick Ranke's dedication to finding the genealogical records is inspirational--and wait until you read about the real-life miracles that happened along the way, If you liked the movie Monuments Men, you'll love Hearts of the Fathers.
This book is a skillful weaving of several lives into one captivating book of loss and finding one's way through the serpentine labyrinth that was Germany in WWII. But mostly of how a loving Heavenly Father guided specific people in their search for loved ones and for the lost genealogical records of Germany. It warmed my heart to know that amidst all of that carnage and hate, there were those willing to listen to that still small voice and do what it told them to do, however strange an idea.
I really enjoyed Darryl Harris' book HEARTS OF THE FATHERS. It handled the subject without an iron fist, while still fleshing out the tale.
I have been to Germany, and to concentration camps. I've talked to those both who lived in Germany at the time and those poor souls who bear the tattoos of the concentration camps on their arms. I liked how this wasn't an indictment against all German people. There were good and evil people of all nationalities involved. I cheered when good prevailed against the evil.
Gerda Brendler is a widow whose young son was wrenched from her arms and disappeared into what became the Hitler's Youth machine. She knows he hasn't died, as the hospital told her. She searches everywhere for a son whose face she doesn't know if she'll even recognize. Can he have survived the war and atrocities?
Gerda meets Levi Zuckerman, a Jew who was sent to live with his Russian relatives and later was conscripted into the conquering Russian army. He saves Gerda and another girl from rape and possible death at the hands of his commanding officer. Which sets him on a course away from the victorious Russians and toward the little band of LDS missionaries under the mission president, Erick Ranke.
President Ranke had been tasked with the nearly impossible task of finding and protecting the lost church books of Germany, with the help of Gerda, Levi, and other missionaries. Again and again, through following the Spirit, miracles happen in their quest.
Harris' matchless research puts us right in the middle of the action. I crouched with them in their bomb shelter, worrying that the ceiling would cave in. I dug through the refuse looking for loved ones and treasured belongings. This is not a tale handled with kid gloves. There is violence, pillaging, and attempted or otherwise rapes, although they are handled carefully. This isn't a children's book, but it is an important book about listening to the Still Small Voice. I greatly enjoyed it.
I give this book a both thumbs way up.