When the Berlin Wall fell, Mike entered eastern Germany seeking his mother’s house. Nazis had expelled his mother Lilli and family into Poland in 1938. Later Lilli escaped to Wales. But after the war, no relatives returned to her house – all killed in 1941, while Nazi Ralph Dippmann took their house.
50 years later, Mike finds Lilli’s house, and encounters Dippmann, still alive, still a Nazi. This launches a series of astonishing encounters with:
- Ralph Dippmann: still claiming the Nazi-plundered house
- The Soviet archivist who finds a Declaration naming Hans Krueger his family’s killer
- The Ukrainian rebel who failed to murder Krueger in 1941
- Israeli war hero Zvi Luft, who survived the massacre when Krueger killed Mike’s family: but despairs about Israel’s brutalising occupation of Palestine
- Jeanette Tatreaux, daughter of French resistance hero Georges Bernard: grieving over his assassination by Hans Krueger
- Krueger’s 1966 trial judge, who felt like “an accountant of mass murder”
- Johanna Brueckner, Krueger’s mistress in 1980s Munich, living in denial
- Trost Krueger, Hans Krueger’s son, teacher of German history but fearful to know his father. Mike, the son of victims meets the son of their persecutor.
The story of Mike’s mother’s family is of genocide victims, but now he discovers his father’s family story involves ethnic cleansing. He visits Israel, to know if it proved to be the shared land of Jews and Arabs where his grandfather hoped to find refuge from Nazi Germany – before Krueger killed him.
Visiting cousins of his father in a Jewish settlement he finds a photograph of his father escaping Nazi Germany – uneasy to find this treasured picture here in occupied Palestine. Visiting his father’s nephew, he discovers that his father’s brother was a hero of Israel’s independence war, and also a participant in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
Can Mike condemn Trost Krueger for hiding from his inheritance, but stay silent about the inheritance from his father? What should he say, and how? Jewish survivor Zvi Luft warns, “If it’s against your conscience, it’s tough. If you criticise you’re called anti-Semitic. It’s blackmail. Ridiculous. But there is no point speaking out. I won’t be here to see disaster.”