Thirteen years ago, when I first seriously entertained the idea of writing fiction, I found myself obsessing on a rather strange, and unpleasant, topic. I became preoccupied with the question of Adolf Hitler and his special brand of evil. Most Jews, who noodle on the subject of der Führer for any length of time, end up framing their questions about his rise to power and his essential role in the realization of the holocaust, in the form of an accusation. They point their index fingers at the Almighty, and ask, "How could you let this happen?"
I had no interest in diving down that rabbit hole. In the first place, Hitler and the holocaust did happen. Whether God 'let it happen' or not seemed completely beside the point. In my mind, that line of inquiry epitomized the type of thorny, arcane and largely non-essential question that theologians love to debate. After all, hadn't they spent the entire Middle Ages arguing about how many angels could comfortably fit on the head of a pin?
What I wanted to know was what, if anything, could possibly constitute 'fitting punishment' for someone as innately and actively evil as Hitler. What form would it take? While his death, by any means, might bring some immediate satisfaction to his victims, how could the exchange of Hitler's one life ever begin to atone for the loss of the millions of innocent lives he had taken? It's the same question millions of people, around the world, asked themselves, following the recent death of Al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden.
Moreover, Hitler's suicide deprived the world of a chance to try and judge him for his crimes. That's when the idea hit me: I could write a story about Hitler's final judgment, in the afterlife. Several benefits of this approach immediately presented themselves. The supernatural beings who rule the afterlife would share God's omniscience and, therefore, know all of Hitler's crimes in advance. Hitler would not be able to lie his way out of trouble. They could see right through him. That would not only save a lot of time in developing the story, it also would deprive Hitler's character of yet another platform to exploit, in putting forth, and promoting, his sick, twisted agenda of hate.
All that remained for me was to research the subject and begin drawing on my imagination. Those tasks still managed to produce some uncomfortable moments, such as when I purchased Mein Kampf, at the local bookstore. (The book remains off limits to readers in Germany, today.) Then, there were all those equally awkward nights at home, when my son and my ex-wife watched TV while I, a nice Jewish dad, sat nearby, engrossed in Hitler's memoir or poring over such books as Explaining Hitler.
The final version of the book is shorter than originally intended, and I actually took more than a year off from writing it (when I was halfway through), because parts of it were so disturbing to me. I'll be happy to discuss these issues and more with you, once you've had a chance to read it.
Author Bio: I am a single, Baltimore, MD - based writer, marketer, former journalist, and father of one, who has eclectic interests, a passion for social justice and an insatiable thirst for good science fiction. After you read my books, please drop me a line and let me know what you think of them. I look forward to it.
Read an excerpt from ‘The Last Way Station’
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