A Jewish-American child living in Germany three years after the Holocaust seems improbable, but so it was for Alison, an inveterate eavesdropper and daughter of a United States officer stationed in Oberammergau. She narrates her discoveries of the village’s contribution to Nazi hatred of the Jewish people despite Oberammergau’s fame for its holy Passion Play, performed every ten years since 1634. Alison overhears the stories told to her mother and her visiting grandfather by the German piano teacher, who they learn is a Jew, though a convert to Catholicism. Based on a true story, this fictionalized character, renamed Stefan Hirsch, came to Oberammegau in 1934, where he lived until attacked on Kristallnacht by a group of Nazi youth, one of whom allegedly becomes the Jesus of the 1950 pageant. Hirsch was imprisoned in Dachau, eventually released, and lived out the war in England, when he then returned to Oberammergau. The mystery of why he returns drives the plot of this compelling novel.
Eavesdropping in Oberammergau
- From the Publisher
May 3, 2016
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