The Turn of the Tide is the third book in the Sturmtaucher Trilogy: a powerful and compelling story of two families torn apart by evil.

As Hitler’s greed turns eastwards to the fertile and oil rich Soviet heartlands, life for the Kästner and the Nussbaum families disintegrates and fragments as the Nazis tighten the noose on German and Polish Jews. Implementing Endlösung der Judenfrage, the ‘Final Solution to the Jewish Problem’, Hitler, Himmler, Heydrich and Eichmann plan to have Germany, and Europe, Judenrein, ‘cleansed of Jews’.

General Erich Kästner, increasingly alone, fights a losing battle to protect his friends, and their fellow Jews, putting himself and his family in jeopardy.

As the tide of war turns, he looks anxiously to the Soviets in the east, and to the Western Allies, desperately hoping, despite his patriotism, that Germany is defeated before there are no Jews left in the countries occupied by the Third Reich.

When an assassination attempt on Hitler and his henchmen fails, Erich Kästner himself comes under the scrutiny of the Gestapo, and his own survival, and that of his family, becomes uncertain.

As the war draws to an end, with Germany in ruins, time is running out for the Kästners and the Nussbaums…

My Review

For me, as a woman, it’s the use of violent sex as torture, more so than the beatings, the starvation and the gas chambers that haunts me (I apologise as I already mentioned this in my review of Flight Of The Shearwater). Rape used as a weapon, often in front of the husband or other family members, the stripping naked and parading in front of the guards and other inmates, all designed to humiliate and take away identity and pride. As we saw at the end of the previous book, some women preferred to be beaten to death rather than be raped, while others survived by ‘working’ in the camp brothels. How can any of us in our comfy homes in 2022 even begin to imagine which choice we would have made? Would we have chosen an honourable death or have done anything to survive?

Incidentally, men were also stripped – for executions (including German ‘traitors’ like those involved in the plot to kill Hitler in 1944, their naked bodies left to rot still attached to the noose) and inmates before being sent to the gas chambers.

What is also so poignant reading this right now is the parallels we are seeing with the war in Ukraine. At times I forgot I was reading about the second World War. Following the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Ruth comments: ‘that no-one will survive another war.‘ I hope we never find out.

Do the ‘ordinary’ Russian people believe Putin is right, like so many Germans did with Hitler, without knowing the real truth. Is: ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,‘ true? Are we all culpable if we turn our backs on what’s really going on? A conversation for another time.

There is much of this series that I find very personal, particularly in the first and third books. I will not repeat my family history as I have already written about it extensively in my review of The Gathering Storm and to a lesser extent in Shearwater. I also don’t want to go into the history of the war, the treatment of Jews and the horrors of the concentration camps. It is all on public record. I will still never understand why the Jews were so despised. Neither can I understand how people can inflict such cruelty on others.

A phenomenal book and a phenomenal series. I feel like I knew the Kästners and the Nussbaums and while I know they are fictional characters, they are representative of the many families for whom these horrors were a reality. So for me and others they are real.

I am dedicating this review to my late Polish father (who was not Jewish though he married a Jewesss, my mother, after the war), but he was a prisoner of war in Northern Russia. He once told me it was so cold that when the men took a pee outside, it froze as it hit the ground. And there is a reference to it in The Turn Of The Tide (not to my father obviously) and I had to smile. It always made me laugh when he told me the story when I was eight or nine years old. I know he only told me these things because the truth would have been too hard for him to bear and for me. Bless you Dad.

About the Author

Alan Jones is a Scottish author with three gritty crime stories to his name, the first two set in Glasgow, the third one based in London. He has now switched genres, and his WW2 trilogy will be published in August 2021. It is a Holocaust story set in Northern Germany.

He is married with four grown up children and four wonderful grandchildren.

He has recently retired as a mixed-practice vet in a small Scottish coastal town in Ayrshire and is one of the RNLI volunteer coxswains on the local lifeboat. He makes furniture in his spare time, and maintains and sails a 45-year-old yacht in the Irish Sea and on the beautiful west coast of Scotland. He loves reading, watching films and cooking. He still plays football despite being just the wrong side of sixty.

His crime novels are not for the faint-hearted, with some strong language, violence, and various degrees of sexual content. The first two books also contain a fair smattering of Glasgow slang.

He is one of the few self-published authors to be given a panel at Bloody Scotland and has done two pop-up book launches at the festival in Stirling.

He has spent the last five years researching and writing The Sturmtaucher Trilogy.

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