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Günter Wels: Edelweiß.

de     en     fr     es     tr

Novel.
Vienna:
Czernin Verlag, 2018.
ISBN: 978-3-7076-0645-4.

Günter Wels

Reading Sample

In the spring of 1945, Friedrich Mahr, alias Edelweiss, lands a job as the director of a special command on German Reich territory in the Salzburg region. He is joined on a secret mission by the communist Kurt Oberhummer (alias Willi) and Ludwig Esch (alias Sigmund) "from the nationalist side." As spies for the American intelligence agency known as the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), their mission is to collect information about Hitler's rumored alpine fortress. The three of them are dissidents from within the Nazi military. At a castle in France, American agents train them and prepare them for deployment. One course of instruction follows another. Finally, the day arrives. A twin-engine B-26 from the U.S. Air Force arrives to take them to their destination. Mahr, Willi, and Sigmund are ready. The tension grows as they wait for the signal to jump, but then "Sigmund took a hasty step to the edge of the hatch and dove without waiting for the order. Mahr cast a quick questioning look at Willi. What had just happened? What the hell had gotten into Sigmund? A slip-up? A panicked impulse?"

On 18 April 2011, the telephone rings at the home of the Viennese bookseller Christine Maurer. It's the trauma unit at the General Hospital. Her father, Carl Maurer, has fallen in his own home. Now Christine must look after his apartment and his dog, while trying to keep her son from sinking into the right-wing swamp of a group called the Secessionist Front. When visiting her father's apartment, she comes upon the story of Mahr in some old records. She reads her way through a red, green, blue, and violet notebook. She dives further and further into the thoughts of Mahr, whom she recognizes relatively quickly to be her own father. More and more, the happenings around Mahr and Willi spark suspicions within her—suspicions that will change her view of her father forever.

In his debut novel, Günter Wels tells the thrilling story of a parachute agent's mission in the Second World War. He depicts Maurer's/Mahr's desertion on the Western Front, his espionage schooling at a French training camp, and his dramatic struggle for survival during the last weeks of the war. As it turns out, Sigmund's premature jump is a planned getaway that leads him to betraying his comrades and revealing their mission to the Nazis. Although the novel is based on historical facts about the story of the three parachute agents Hans Prager, Josef Hemetsberger, and Emil Fuchs, Wels puts timeless questions up for discussion. Who determines right and wrong? When and how can one fight back against injustice? Is it a person's responsibility to do so? Or is it even an obligation?

Wels's writing is thrilling and full of suspense. More than mere sketches, his figures trace the violence, fear, and destruction of the Nazi regime. He also reveals the subsequent generations' incomprehension of all these events.

Short version of the review by Erkan Osmanvic, Sept. 12, 2018.
English translation by Hillary Keel.

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