Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 2, No. 16. August 2, 1939
The Mortal Storm
The Mortal Storm
For less than the price of a seat at the pictures you can discover Hitler's Germany. By reading "Mortal Storm" you will begin to understand what it feels like to be a Jew of 1938 under Nazi rule, or to be a young man enslaved by the hypnotism of Nazi ideals. This book about ordinary people living in Germany is almost a complete statement and certainly an authentic one. It is considered by the publishers to be so urgently important that they have co-operated with Penguin Books Ltd. in printing this special edition that it may be more readily available to you.
Though a work of fiction. "Mortal Storm" is startlingly convincing and yet incredible. It is almost impossible to believe that such conditions can be allowed. Apparently non-Nazis in Germany have the same difficulty of belief. When Freya's Communist lover is shot by her Nazi stepbrother she is stunned not so much by his death as at his being shot by a fellow countryman in time of peace. When her younger brother is stoned in the street and treated as an outcast at school for "smelling like a Jew," he cannot at first believe the reality. When his workmates will no longer linger to gossip over a mug of beer in the suddenly unfriendly "gartens" the ordinary labourer is filled with a dreadful bewilderment. Fear and suspicion arc oppressing even the least sensitive.
The Concentration Camp.
The story is carried by Freya, as a nineteen years old student, whose simple passion for medicine is swiftly blurred and twisted and almost overwhelmed by Nazism. She has to discover that the step-brothers who have been noble gods in her eyes can be relentlessly cruel in the fervour of their obedience to their Fuehrer; she has to see her father snubbed on the public street by old friends, she sees him lecturing to a scared group of students where once he had vigorously enthusiastic classes: she sees him lose his hospital and his clinic. Finally he is sent to a concentration camp. The scene where she visits him there (soon afterwards he is killed) is a brilliant piece of writing.
As a character in the story, this man, her father, is skilfully drawn as an individual, but inevitably we must see him as the Jew [unclear: of] many.
Intelligent, [unclear: tolerave], reasonable and gentle; loving his country and adding to her knowledge by medical research; suffering treatment that would be torture to one less wise, he lives steadfastly by his own beliefs and dies without bitterness, having charged his daughter with the supreme importance of refusing to be crushed under militarism.
Out of the horror of a concentration camp, he can give her this message.
"To be unreal. Freya. that is the worst of all dangers—since you are turning a thing that does not exist into an enemy. And when you start to kill a person, who is only by misconception your enemy, you find that you have killed a brother.
That is the mistake all our people are making—and also everywhere the same. We talk of "defence." against whom? Our brother men! Or we talk of working for peace. There is only one way to work for peace—and there will be no peace till it is learnt—and that is how to become friendly with each other. Then there will be nothing to be defended from—and it will not be necessary to "work for peace."
"The Mortal Storm."—Phyllis Bothome. Penguin Special. Modern Bookshop. Dominion Farmers' Building.