In the classic re-telling of the plot from the Book of Esther, Kate Breslin brings us to Nazi Germany in 1944 in her novel, For Such a Time. It begs the question: What could you have done to save the Jews?
Aric first sees Hadassah (or her assumed name, Stella) in Dachau. He appears to rescue her from certain death and takes her to his transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia where Stella becomes his secretary. From here, the plot follows as closely as possible to the story from the Book of Esther. Stella’s Uncle is one of the prisoners in the camp appointed by the Nazi’s to choose who will go to Auschwitz. When telephone lines go down, Stella gets a bag of cards to type up from the captain of the camp. Aric, in spite of his compassion, doesn’t stop the Jews from getting on the train, and Stella does the unthinkable and courageous by taking 160 names off of the list. 160 Jews were saved.
Stella lives in fear of being discovered and struggles with her choices. She wants to save all the Jews. Aric detests his job, too, but does his job anyway knowing he could lose his life if he takes any chances. The question that is asked throughout this book is: What would you have done in their place? You can’t save everyone without losing your life. If you lose your life, more die. If you save some, but not all, you live to save more people. Many stories in history show us the courage of people in Nazi-occupied territory and in Nazi Germany who struggled with this question every day of the war.
The book of Esther show us a similar recounting where Esther braved the wrath of a king to reveal her true identity, and in doing so, saved his life and the life of her people. We can choose to go along to get along, and someone else will be chosen to save people; or you can choose to do the right thing no matter the risk. While this is a work of fiction, Kate Breslin gives us a history lesson on the back of the book. I encourage you to read that when you are finished reading this novel. For Such a Time is a romance novel set near the end of World War II–an unlikely set up of a Jewess and a Nazi Wehrmacht Officer who runs a transit camp. It was riveting. I gave it five stars.
Buy book here: For Such a Time
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