Kurt Berlin is a young American soldier serving in the Philippines during World War II. A refugee from Nazi-occupied Austria, he is fluent in German. When the OSS recruits him to work as an interpreter for Americans interrogating Nazi war criminals, he reluctantly accepts and goes to Brussels. In the course of his assignment, Kurt discovers that the SS officer being interrogated is responsible for the terror and misery that his family suffered during their escape. He also realizes that the man may have information about a young girl that he loved and left behind. His desire for information and the discovery that the Americans interviewing the Nazis may be interested in more than war crimes offer a moral dilemma.
Based on stories from the author’s family, this exciting and personal novel gives readers a glimpse into the lives of Jewish families forced to abandon their happy, comfortable lives when the Nazis came to power. Kurt’s parents sent him to Brussels on a Kindertransport, and returning to that city brings back memories of his experiences. When he is not interviewing war criminals, he tries to find friends and relatives who may have survived the war. His efforts will have readers turning pages, eager to find out where his search will take him. Historical fiction fans and those interested in World War II and survivor stories will enjoy this. Book clubs will also find much to discuss, given the moral and ethical questions raised. The Interpreter is highly recommended for public and synagogue libraries as well as personal collections.