Secrets in the Shadows (Ronsdale Press) is a novel by Coast writer Heige S. Boehm that tells the story of two enthusiastic Hitler youth, Michael and his friend Wolfie, as they grow up in Nazi Germany. In 1943 the two 16-year-olds eagerly sign up to battle for Germany and the Reich, their heads full of patriotic dreams, their bodies wearing tattooed swastikas.
The book follows their Panzer division when it sees action in Europe, and by 1945 they are confronting the Russians in Hungary while undergoing a “strategic retreat.” At one point Michael and Wolfie engage with Canadian soldiers, offering an interesting aspect of the book as readers view the war from the other side of the front lines. The two men learn to kill and finally, battle-weary, they face disillusionment with all that they once held dear.
This book is a completely engrossing read, but warning, it’s not for the faint of heart. The atrocities described by Boehm are real. She’s done her research. They include descriptions of a callous shooting of a young Jewish woman, the brutal assassination of prisoners of war and the desperate days in war-torn Berlin when the two meet Hitler.
Boehm’s parents grew up in Nazi Germany and lived in communist East Germany before the family immigrated to Canada. With this, her first novel, Boehm set out to research the big questions of how people lived under a dictatorship such as her parents had known.
Secrets in the Shadows can be found at Talewind Books in Sechelt and can be ordered from independent bookstores. The novel is also sold online through other outlets, including Ronsdale Press (http://ronsdalepress.com).