By Elise Cooper | July 16, 2022


The German woman

Kelly Rimer

Harper Collins

June 28e 2022

The German Woman by Kelly Rimmer has a unique perspective. It looks at forgiveness, family ties, choices made, both right/wrong, right/wrong, prejudice and relationships during the 1930s and 1950s. The story shows the deep flaws and the fragility of Germans living under the Nazi regime.

The novel is inspired by the true story of Operation Paperclip: a controversial American secret intelligence program that employed former Nazi scientists after World War II and brought them together with their American counterparts.

“I live in Australia, about an hour and a half from the Parks Radio and Telescope Observatory. They had a festival in 2019 to commemorate the role the parks played with the moon landing. They relayed the communications and telemetry signals at NASA providing coverage when the Apollo spacecraft was on the Australian side of the Earth.While I was there I visited an exhibit about the US space program.I saw how there was a line which said that German and American scientists worked together from 1950 in Huntsville Alabama to help the space program. I was determined to find out how this could happen and wanted to know more about Operation Paperclip.

There is an alternation of timelines, settings and narratives. The story begins in 1930s Berlin where Sofie von Meyer Rhodes and her college husband benefit from the military ambitions of newly elected German Chancellor Hitler. Jürgen Rhodes is offered a top position in their burgeoning rocket program. Although they fiercely oppose Hitler’s radical views, it soon becomes clear that if Jürgen does not accept the job, their income, their children, and their lives will be taken away.

There were three German couples who represented different points of view: Jurgen and Sophie, Claudia and Klaus, Lydia and Karl. “Lydia and Karl were not open about their anti-Semitism at the start of the Nazi regime. I put a quote in this book: “The Nazis didn’t make people like Lydia and Karl anti-Semitic. They only discovered what already existed. They were very quickly swept away by the agenda of the Nazi party. Jurgen and Sophie are reasonable people who feel guilty because they are accomplices. Claudia and Klaus took a stand by refusing to join the Nazi Party. It cost them, but they had dignity. Lydia/Karl were pure Nazis, Jurgen/Sophie were reluctant Nazis, and Claudia/Karl were not Nazis.

Beloved Jewish friend of Sofie and Jurgen, Mayim lives with them at the beginning of the Nazi regime. But over the years, they know that Mayim must leave because Jews are no longer accepted. Through Mayim’s eyes, readers get a glimpse of Nazi atrocities, how many Germans were dormant anti-Semites who came out of the woodwork after Hitler came to power, and how Jews attempt to flee to different countries to escape prejudice, threats, and killings.

The other setting in the 1930s is El Paso Texas where the Davies family struggles to survive on their farm. Between the depression and the terrible drought Lizzie realizes her dream of staying and becoming a farmer is no longer a reality. Her brother Henry enlists to fight the Germans during World War II and she marries Calvin, his best friend. But their marriage is a marriage of convenience without any intimacy.

“I wanted to write about the intersection of a small town in America with German families living during World War II. 2019 marked the end of a three-year drought in Australia. Everything was covered in dust, suspicious and draining It was hard on the people mentally who felt completely helpless When I watched the time when all of them would come together in Huntsville I decided to bring these characters to life in the Texas dust bowl They are very dedicated to their family. Lizzie saw the war through the eyes of Henry who was a veteran.

Twenty years later, in 1950s Huntsville, Alabama, Jürgen was brought from Germany to America with other German scientists to help America get its space program started. This is where Operation Paperclip comes in. Many of these scientists are Nazis, worked in the SS and ran labor camps, but had their German past in Germany completely erased and became US citizens. prosperous. He is eventually joined by Sophie and their two youngest children. But they have to struggle with their past because many Germans are not always welcome in Huntsville. Lizzie and Sophie’s lives become interconnected when Calvin and Jürgen, both scientists, work together on the rocket program. Lizzie and her brother Henry, who suffers from PTSD after witnessing Nazi atrocities, are hostile to the Rhodes family. The story shows what happens when resentment, prejudice, rage and acts of violence and denial come together.

It’s an emotionally complex plot that shows how hate can fester, grow and destroy people’s lives. This thought-provoking novel delves into the choices people make due to compulsion, fear, strength, or the will to turn a blind eye. It’s a compelling story of morality and how far someone will go to be able to live their life, both figuratively and literally.



Angela C. Hale