Book Review: Motherland by Maria Hummel
This book is set in Germany in the dangerous last months of World War II. Liesl is newly married to a widowed surgeon who has been summoned to work at a hospital far away; she is responsible for the care of her husband’s three young boys amid dwindling food supplies and refugees being assigned to their home. One son has a mysterious illness and faces the prospect of being sent to Hadamar, a destination for ill and unfit children; Hadamar was a destination that would mean certain death.
This book did a marvelous job of humanizing a family facing dire circumstances: lack of food, a mysterious illness, aerial bombings, and uncertainty that wrapped itself around every aspect of survival. It also addressed the difficult question of what ordinary Germans knew, and whether their silence made them complicit in the horrors of the war. At the core, though, it was about a family trying to survive in the hope that someday, in some way, they would be able to rebuild their lives — together.