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(Review) The End of Law: A novel of Hitler's Germany by Therese Down

Publication Date: March 27, 2016
Publisher: Kregel
Genre: Historical fiction, World War II, Nazi Germany
Pages: 320
Source: Free paperback copy from Kregel in exchange for a review
Rating: 5 stars for excellent

Link @ the publisher for more info: The End of Law. 

1933, Germany.
When the story begins, Hedda Schroeder, age 20, is a glamorous woman who is interested in a social life, and parties held in "smoky clubs." Her parents are Ernst and Mathilde Schroeder. Her father is a well-known German Chemist. Hedda began dating Walter Gunther, "a General Staff Officer, serving under Chief of Staff Officer Ludwig Beck." He is "on occasional social terms with Goering." Walter and Hedda marry. Walter believes their marriage will help his career and standing with the party. They have two children, Agnette and Anselm. As the story progresses, Walter's demeanor and mental instability spirals downward into an abyss of hatred, bitterness, hostility, and murderous rampage. On the other hand, Hedda, who at one time cared for parties and dates, and cast a blind eye to the Nazi Party, becomes a depressed and fearful wife and mother. Walter is involved in the T4 Euthanasia Program. The program affects personally the family of Walter and Hedda.

My Thoughts:
I've read a long list of books on World War II and the Holocaust. This is the first book I've read on the T4 Euthanasia Program. To state this is a difficult book to read is an understatement. However, the historical fiction story must be told to share the horrors of what other humans did to their own, in hopes this will never happen again.
Several reasons led me to award The End of Law 5 stars for excellent.

  • External and internal conflicts. The Holocaust, war, and the Nazi killing machine are the external conflicts. The internal conflicts are the victims, and the people who defy the Nazi's murderous pogrom.
  • A story of domestic violence. Its affects on the abused adult and on the children. It also shows the abuser's need to control and dominate. The End of Law is an education on domestic violence. Some readers may find this subject to be unpleasant and will not read a story with this type of element. I am a victim of domestic violence and feel the subject should be talked about and it should be given attention, which will lead to educating people in hopes of saving a life. 
  • Development of characters. Hedda has a remarkable transformation. Her moment of change came when she became a mother. I saw throughout the story a continuing rise in her development. 
  • The effects on the people who worked in the T4 Euthanasia Program. From those who created the chemicals, to those who gave orders, to those who carried out the administrations, and to those who were affected by the fatal dose. 
  • The story is intense, but there are moments of tenderness and love. 
  • The End of Law is the story of sacrificial love. 
  • The quote below gives an example of symbolism. The descriptions show Walter's demeanor, but it also shows the lack of intimacy in the marriage and home.
Walter felt love for no one. He was permanently angry, resentful or disgusted. If he allowed any softer sentiment to colour his thoughts it was self-pity. As for Hedda, he loathed her. Loathed her tired, permanently sad, mooning face; loathed the insolent reproach of her sidelong, glances as he passed her in rooms they couldn't bear to share. 
Links for further information on the T4 Euthanasia Program and Nazi medical experiments.
From the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Jewish Virtual Library
Holocaust Research Project
The Holocaust Chronicle
The Euthanasia Program and Nurses Participation