A concentration camp survivor, returning home to pick up the shards of his shattered life, finds his own healing and redemption inextricably entwined with that of his betrayer. Rediscover this classic in the tradition of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy.
One of Germany’s literary giants, Ernst Emil Wiechert (1887-1950) was thrown into Buchenwald concentration camp for publicly backing anti-Nazi pastor Martin Niemöller. His final novel, published posthumously, deals with the aftermath of the Holocaust – how the survivors, both victims and perpetrators, seek healing and redemption as they pick up the shattered pieces of their lives.
Evoking comparisons to the Russian greats Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, Wiechert displays an uncommon depth of insight into the human condition at its most degenerate and ennobling best – an understanding born of his own suffering and quest for rebirth. His novel is peopled with rich and complex characters and charged with passion and spiritual hunger.
First published in 1950 as Missa Sine Nomine (“Mass Without a Name”), Tidings deserves its place among the masterpieces of European literature.
Hardcover, 8 x 5.5 inches,
A deeply human story of loss and restitution. "That which the locust hath eaten shall be restored." I read it in small sections because I wanted to postpone the end. Thank you, Plough, for taking the risk at this time in our history by publishing a spiritual novel of such poignancy.
This book was written 64 years ago, long before psychologists coined the term "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder" (PTSD), which is afflicting the story's main character as a result of his horrid experiences in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. And, after this character, a German nobleman, has been released from the camp at the end of the war, he returns to his estate where he finds his mansion occupied by American troops, which adds a new form of stress. Although this character has been severely traumatized, the author does not deal with him in a clinical, analytical manner, but in the romantic, mystical manner characteristic of the (now vanished) breed of German writers to which he belonged. The bogs and other features of the environment as well as the folklore of that place and of the aristocratic milieu are well suited for this purpose. Tidings bears some resemblance to Dostoevsky's stories, but it does not grip the reader as The Brothers Karamazov does. But it is worth reading for the poignant portrayals of its characters and for the questions it raises in their grappling with matters pertaining to the meaning of life and to redemption. I had never heard of this author before, who deserves to be known. The translators and publisher are to be complimented for the efforts expended in making this book available for English-speaking readers. And it may well become popular with today's readers, many of whom are now "into" various forms of retro, such as the Victorianophiles in the "steampunk" movement.
The novel depicts Baron Amadeus von Liljecrona, who works as one of the best literary portraits of a nation's conscience --in this case, Germany during and immediately following Nazism. At the end of the war, the baron returns home from a concentration camp to his former estate, only to discover its occupation by American soldiers. Wiechert served five months in 1938 in Buchenwald, and the baron's difficulties in adjusting to a life of freedom in a shepherd's hut are undoubtedly related. It's the world that the baron returns to--that Wiechert himself returned to--that is the real genius of Tidings. The guilt and reconciliation that are the heart of the story make this one of the best narratives of what a genuine Christian theology of forgiveness might look like. Tidings may not be for the faint-of-heart, but for those who see this book through to the end, it's a genuine theological and literary treasure.