Novels Set in Nazi Germany


Adolf Hitler

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Adolf Hitler and his Family
Life in Nazi Germany
Mysteries and Thrillers


Adolf Hitler rose to power in the aftermath of World War I as Germany struggled under the economic burden of reparations imposed on them by the Versailles Treaty. A dynamic speaker, Hitler scapegoated various groups including German political leaders, liberals, capitalists and Jews for Germany's troubles. By 1933, his popularity resulted in his appointment as Chancellor, a position he used to undermine the existing government and become dictator.

Persecution of the Jews began immediately. The first concentration camp was built at Dachau in 1933. A series of repressive laws beginning in 1935 marginalized Jews and limited their ability to make a living. Mass murder of Jews began in the concentration camps in the early 1940s. Other groups the Nazis considered undesirable, including gypsies and homosexuals, were also persecuted and sent to extermination camps. Some courageous Germans did secretly protect Jews or, like the minister Dietrich Bonhoeffer, speak openly against the Nazis. In 1944, a group of German military officers tried to assassinate Hitler.

In 1939, Germany invaded Poland, setting off the Second World War. Novels about German military personnel serving in World War II appear on the World War II page.


Adolf Hitler and his Family

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Ron Hansen, Hitler's Niece (1999), about the high-spirited Geli, daughter of Adolf Hitler's half-sister, and her relationship with Hitler from his origins as an unsuccessful artist teased at family gatherings through his rise to power as the Nazi dictator.

Sibylle Knauss, Eva's Cousin (2002), about a twenty-year-old German woman whose cousin Eva Braun invites her to be a guest at Hitler's opulent mountain retreat in Bavaria.

Norman Mailer, The Castle in the Forest (2007), a novel about Adolf Hitler's childhood which imagines that his life was shaped and guided by a demon following the instructions of Satan.

A.N. Wilson, Winnie and Wolf (2007), a novel which imagines what might have happened if Adolf Hitler and Winifred Wagner, the daughter-in-law of the famous composer, had an affair during the years between the wars.


Life in Nazi Germany and Refugees from Nazi Germany

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Martin Amis, The Zone of Interest (2014), about a liaison sent to a concentration camp who begins an affair with the camp commandant's wife and becomes horrified by he camp's purpose, after which he and his lover try to undermine the commandant's work.

Maria Angels Anglada, The Violin of Auschwitz (1994 in the original Catalan; first English edition 2010), about a violin-maker imprisoned at Auschwitz who is forced to create another instrument, despite his exhausted condition, after his profession becomes known.

Dianne Ascroft, Hitler and Mars Bars (2008), about a boy living in a German children's home whose mother stops visiting after a bombing raid, and who is then sent to live in Ireland with a sequence of foster families; self-published.

Will Berthold, Lebensborn (in German 1958; English edition 1977), about a German woman chosen to be part of the Lebensborn program and forced to mate with selected men for the purpose of breeding supposedly superior children.

Jenna Blum, Those Who Save Us (2005), about a woman who has kept her memories of life in Berlin in the aftermath of World War II secret from her American husband and daughter. Review

Ethan Canin, Carry Me Across the Water (2001), about a Jewish boy who escapes Nazi Germany and builds a new life in America, told in the form of his memories as an old man.

Betsy Carter, The Puzzle King (2009), about a Jewish couple who met in New York after immigrating as children from Nazi Germany who return to Germany in 1936 to help family members escape the country.

Michael Dean, The Crooked Cross (2009), about a lawyer who makes an unsuccessful attempt to prosecute Hitler for the murder of his half-niece, and is then drawn into a plot to assassinate him in 1933 Munich. Review by Carla Nayland

Piero degli Antoni, Block 11 (2012), about ten prisoners in Auschwitz who are caught in an escape attempt and forced to decide which will be executed at dawn to spare the rest from execution.

Len Deighton, Winter: A Novel of a Berlin Family, about two brothers with distinguished military careers who react in opposite ways to the rise of Hitler.

Otto de Kat, Julia (2011), about a factory owner who kills himself in 1981 and his past as a student in Lubeck, Germany, who falls in love with a young woman who opposes the Nazis.

William Dietrich, Ice Reich, about an expedition sent to Antarctica by Nazi Germany.

Esi Edugyan, Half Blood Blues (2011), about a young, half-black jazz trumpeter who leaves Berlin after the Nazis ban "degenerate" music, only to disappear in Paris in 1939, and a fellow band member who still carries a burden of guilt fifty years later.

Hans Fallada, Every Man Dies Alone (1947; English translation 2009), about a German couple who quietly begin to resist the Nazis after their son is killed in the invasion of France; a contemporary novel when first published.

Thaisa Frank, Heidegger's Glasses (2010), about a woman who works for a project to answer letters written by death camp inmates and tries to use her position to save lives. Review

Denise Giardina, Saints and Villains (1998), about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian killed by the Nazis after becoming involved in a failed plot to assassinate Hitler.

David Gillham, City of Women (2012), about a Nazi soldier's wife in 1943 who has a secret Jewish lover. Review at Kirkus Reviews

Eliza Granville, Gretel and the Dark (2014), about a young girl in Nazi Germany, and turn-of-the-century Viennese psychoanalyst Josef Breuer and a patient of his who claims to be a machine.

Hugo Hamilton, Disguise (2008), about a sixty-year-old German man's attempt to learn the truth about his family's lives, disrupted in the chaos at the end of the Second World War.

Ursula Hegi, Stones from the River (1994), about a girl who is a dwarf growing up in Nazi Germany.

Ursula Hegi, Children and Fire (2011), about a gifted teacher in Germany during Hitler's rise who struggles to maintain her teaching standards amid pressure from Nazi propaganda. Review

Raphael Jerusalmy, Saving Mozart (2013), about a music critic confined to a tuberculosis sanitarium in 1939 Salzburg who fights back against a Nazi plan to use a Mozart festival as a fascist event.

Rachel Johnson, Winter Games (2012), about a woman in present-day Britain and her grandmother, a schoolgirl in Germany in 1936 during Hitler's rise. Review at The Telegraph

Kelly Jones, The Woman Who Heard Color (2011), about a German woman with synesthesia (she sees colors when she hears sounds) who gets a job in a Jewish art gallery, where she encounters the young Hitler. Review at the NY Journal of Books

Roberta Kagan, All My Love, Detrick (2012), about a seventeen-year-old Berlin boy in love with a Jewish girl and willing to sacrifice everything for her; self-published.

Daniel Kalla, The Far Side of the Sky (2012), about a Jewish father and daughter who flee to Shanghai from Germany after the Nazis begin persecuting Jews in 1938.

Daniel Kalla, Rising Sun, Falling Shadow (2013), about a Jewish father and daughter who, after fleeing Germany to Shanghai, struggle to survive and keep their hospital for refugees open after Japanese invaders force Jewish refugees into a ghetto.

Thomas Keneally, Schindler's List (1982) (titled Schindler's Ark in the U.K.), about Oskar Schindler, a German factory owner who saved numerous Jews from the Nazi extermination program between 1939 and 1945.

Jonathan Littell, The Kindly Ones (2006; original French title Les Bienveillantes, titled The Wellwishers in the U.K.), an epic novel in the form of an autobiography by a fictional Nazi officer who lives in France after the war and reinvents himself as an entrepreneur and family man; originally published in France where it won the 2006 Prix Goncourt.

Audrey Magee, The Undertaking (2014), about a German soldier and the woman he has not met, but marries so that he can gain a honeymoon leave and she can qualify for a pension if he is killed.

Sarah McCoy, The Baker's Daughter (2012), about a present-day Texas journalist and the German immigrant she interviews who remembers her experiences as a teen in Nazi Germany in the last of the war.

Brendan McNally, Germania (2008), about four Jewish brothers, quadruplets and former vaudeville performers with psychic abilities, who are unexpectedly reunited in the turmoil surrounding Hitler during the final days of World War II.

Helena P. Schrader, An Obsolete Honor: A Story of the German Resistance to Hitler (2008), about a young German officer who joins a group of other officers working to overthrow Hitler; self-published.

Angelika Schrobsdorff, You Are Not Like Other Mothers (2012), about a Jewish German woman and her three children by three different men, from World War I through World War II.

Rachel Seiffert, The Dark Room (2001), about three ordinary Germans and their experiences of life during and after the Nazi era.

Sarah Jane Stratford, The Midnight Guardian (2009), about a woman vampire sent to Berlin in 1938 as part of a team of vampires seeking to disrupt the Nazi war machine, as Nazis persecute vampires along with other undesirables, and the vampires fear the brewing war may deplete their supply of human blood.

Julie Thomas, The Keeper of Secrets (2013), about a fourteen-year-old German Jewish boy sent to Dachau, his family's treasured 1742 Guarneri del Gesu violin, and a present-day orchestra conductor inspired by the playing of the boy's grandson.

Lavie Tidhar, A Man Lies Dreaming (2014), about a pulp fiction author in Auschwitz who dreams of an alternate history in which Hitler, his rise to power thwarted, has become a private detective and is hired by a Jewish woman to find her sister. Review at The Guardian

Ellen Marie Wiseman, The Plum Tree (2013), about a German servant girl who falls in love with the son of the wealthy Jewish family she works for, just as Hitler comes to power.

Richard Zimler, The Seventh Gate (2007), about a group of former circus performers, some Jews, some deformed or disabled, who band together for protection as the Nazis rise to power.

Marcus Zusak, The Book Thief (2005), about an orphaned German girl during World War II who steals books and shares them with her neighbors and with the Jewish man hidden in her foster-father's basement.


Mysteries and Thrillers

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Ned Beauman, Boxer, Beetle (2010), a dual-time time about a present-day collector of Nazi memorabilia with an unpleasant medical condition and the Jewish boxer in Nazi Germany whose life he must reconstruct in order to find a killer. Review at The Guardian


Rebecca Cantrell, A Trace of Smoke (2009), about a woman crime reporter in 1931 Berlin searching for the killer of her brother, a cross-dressing lounge singer; #1 in the Hannah Vogel mystery series.

Rebecca Cantrell, A Night of Long Knives (2010), about a woman journalist in 1933 and her search for her son after the two of them are kidnapped and separated; #2 in the Hannah Vogel mystery series.

Rebecca Cantrell, A Game of Lies (2011), about about a woman journalist wanted by the SS who poses as a travel writer to collect Nazi secrets during the 1936 Berlin Olympics; #3 in the Hannah Vogel mystery series.

Rebecca Cantrell, A City of Broken Glass (2012), about about a woman crime reporter trapped in Berlin with her son in 1938 on the eve of Kristallnacht; #4 in the Hannah Vogel mystery series.


Barrett J. Clisby, Lost Treasure of the Fourth Reich (2011), a thriller about the Nazis and a "Red Leather Book" containing toxic secrets, and a present-day explorer who uncovers a sunken German submarine containing both gold and the book.

William Dietrich, Blood of the Reich (2011), a thriller about a present-day software publisher in Seattle and her mysterious connection to a pre-WWII Nazi quest for an occult energy source in Tibet and an American zoologist's attempt to prevent the Nazis from finding it.

Colin Fulton, The Reichsbank Robbery (2012), a mystery based on the unsolved real-life case of part of a cache of gold bars from Germany's state bank in Berlin in 1945 which disappeared during a U.S. bombing offensive against the city.

Philip Hook, The Soldier in the Wheatfield (1998), about the modern buyer of a German landscape painting whose recent owners all died violently, who discovers it is connected to a World War II mystery involving a German officer.

David John, Flight from Berlin (2012), a thriller about a British journalist covering the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and an American swimmer whose rebellious behavior resulted in her being dropped from the U.S. team.


Philip Kerr, March Violets, about a Berlin detective who specializes in finding missing Jews during the years of Hitler's rise to power; #1 in the Berlin Noir series. Review

Philip Kerr, The Pale Criminal, about a Berlin detective in Nazi Germany trying to catch a killer of teenage girls; #2 in the Berlin Noir series. Review

Philip Kerr, A German Requiem, about a Berlin detective trying to clear a fellow German of the charge of murdering an American officer in the aftermath of World War II; #3 in the Berlin Noir series. Review

Philip Kerr, The One from the Other, about a German detective searching for proof that a woman's husband, a war criminal, is dead; #4 in the Bernard Gunther (Berlin Noir) series.

Philip Kerr, A Quiet Flame, about a German detective who poses as an escaped Nazi war criminal to solve a murder case in Argentina; #5 in the Bernard Gunther (Berlin Noir) series.

Philip Kerr, If the Dead Rise Not (2009), about the house detective for a Berlin hotel who becomes involved with a left-wing journalist and a Jewish gangster as he investigates two deaths in the hotel during the 1934 preparations for the Berlin Olympics; #6 in the Bernie Gunther (Berlin Noir) series.

Philip Kerr, Field Gray (2010), about a former German detective whose plans to emigrate to the U.S. in the aftermath of the war go awry, sending him back to Europe with an obligation to work for the French; #7 in the Bernie Gunther (Berlin Noir) series.

Philip Kerr, Prague Fatale (2012), about a private detective forced back into police work to protect a Nazi official, whose adjutant is subsequently found dead in a locked room; #8 in the Bernie Gunther (Berlin Noir) series.

Philip Kerr, A Man Without Breath (2013), about a Berlin policeman asked by the Nazis to investigate the mass slaying of Polish officers in the Katyn Forest in 1943 and find evidence to pin it on the Russians; #9 in the Bernie Gunther series. Review at the Washington Times


Robert Wilson, A Small Death in Lisbon (1999), about a modern police detective in Portugal whose investigation of a teenage girl's murder links back to the experiences of a Berlin factory owner forced into Hitler's SS in 1941.


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