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Pub Date 9 Sep 2021 | Archive Date 24 May 2022

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Heimat is the story of four young men who left Germany in 1929 for the United States to find a better future and leave Germany’s dismal post-World War One economy and humiliation of defeat behind. Matthias, a baker, also went to avoid an intolerable family situation. Josef, a watchmaker, left on a whim to join Matthias. Edo, a tailor, left to escape government-sanctioned anti-Semitism and to prepare for his family’s emigration to follow. And, Feliks, an ethnic Polish, teenager because his family’s farm could not support him. Each hoped to return someday as an American citizen and a shining example of American success.

On the way to the TS Bremen for its maiden voyage to America from Bremerhaven, their plans began changing when they saved an American diplomat‘s life from the tracks in Berlin’s Bahnhof. Their heroic act bonded them and the diplomat in a friendship that sustained them through broken promises, misconceptions of the American dream, the Great Depression, Prohibition, assimilation into American culture, and World War Two.

Before the outbreak of the war, Matthias’s commitment to his plan wavered as letters from his mother, girlfriend, sisters, and others urged him to return to Germany as the Nazi regime improved Germany’s economy and raised its national pride. However, the war severed contact with his family for five years and sent him and his friends on separate paths. To a shipyard to build ships to carry the means to destroy Germany and their Heimat. Into the US Army to fight in the Pacific after surviving the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Conscription into Germany’s Wehrmacht to invade France, Russia and fight in the Battle of the Bulge against American forces. And the Nuremberg trials to bring Nazi war criminals to justice.

Heimat is the story of four young men who left Germany in 1929 for the United States to find a better future and leave Germany’s dismal post-World War One economy and humiliation of defeat behind...

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ISBN 9780578841199

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Featured Reviews

This was a really good read that was well written with a compelling storyline and well developed characters that I really took too. The plot had obviously been well researched but was still engaging to the reader. It is a herat-wrenching read at times, but one that is definitely worth reading.

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521 pages

5 stars

Four young men leave their heimat (villages or homes), in Germany in 1929 for various reasons. They sail on the great ship Bremen on her maiden voyage in third class steerage. Mathias, a baker, Josef, a watchmaker, Edo a Jewish man and Feliks a Polish farmer strike up a friendship that will last their entire lives. On the same ship will be Willy Ernst, a bully from the same heimat and Peter Rust, an American professor at a Pennsylvania University.

When Willy Ernst shoves Peter Rust on to the tracks at the train station, the four young men rescue him. This incident ties them together for a lifetime.

What follows is a drama of the struggle of being an immigrant in a strange land where one does not know the language and faces distrust and discrimination. We also experience friendship, prohibition, the depression, intrigue, war, heartache and triumph. The book also cites letters from home. It shows the rise and fall of Hitler and his terrible policies and his extreme racism. and the hopes of the average citizens. The letters outline post-war Germany and the terrible cost to the average citizen of Hitler’s megalomania. It includes the terrible building of the Wall between West and East Germany and its subsequent triumphant removal.

This book is very well written and plotted. It is laid out linearly from 1929 to the 1960’s plus. It closely follows these families, their hopes and dreams and disappointments. We come to intimately know the characters involved. We are actually in the room with them witnessing their actions and hearing their words. I truly loved the novel. I certainly hope Mr. Marzell decides to keep writing.

I want to thank NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for forwarding to me a copy of this engaging book for me to read, enjoy and review. The opinions expressed here are solely my own.

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