|About the Book|
The Pitiless Wave, a World War II story, was inspired by the experiences of Eduard Giesbrecht Allertl, a German-Russian youth who, with over 200 fellow Mennonites, fought in Hitler’s Waffen-SS. His people had farmed the Ukrainian soil for 150MoreThe Pitiless Wave, a World War II story, was inspired by the experiences of Eduard Giesbrecht Allertl, a German-Russian youth who, with over 200 fellow Mennonites, fought in Hitler’s Waffen-SS. His people had farmed the Ukrainian soil for 150 years, and now they looked for a German victory, their only hope for recovering their collectivized land. (See The Lost Generation by Gerhard Lorenz). In Schrag’s fictionalized composite of several biographies, protagonist Hans Bergen’s unit is engaged in battling the Russians while his family is fleeing west on the Great Trek to escape the approaching Red Army. In sub-plots Bergen’s younger brother Willi ends up as a Hitler Youth and sister Sara as part of an anti-aircraft battery (a common scenario near the end of the war). The story culminates with Hans falling in love with Hanna, a Jewish refugee whom he first meets and assists in Poland. In the end some of the family members are reunited, but several don’t survive the Berlin siege. Bergen’s sister Sara is patterned loosely on refugee Anne Friesen, who concealed her identity as a German-Russian and worked as an interpreter for the Soviets in postwar East Germany. She eventually sneaked herself and her family to the West. Her story is partially told in Road to Freedom, ed. Harry Loewen. Also included is the story of two Mennonite conscientious objectors whom the Nazis guillotined. The account appears in Werner Forssmann’s Experiments on Myself, p. 243. Liberties were taken with the location of the refugees’ Russian homes, since most of the German-Ukrainians whom the Soviets failed to relocate before the Nazi invasion lived in the Black Sea region. This group is placed further north in Volhynia for logistical reasons, as is their late migration in 1944. The majority of the refugees actually left in 1943. Otherwise conscientious care is given to accuracy and detail.