the guardian Tue 22 November 2011
The Gestapo compiled a dossier on Wolfram Aïchele's parents, noting their "dangerous eccentricities", such as not joining the Nazi party and refusing to display a swastika flag on public holidays. This is a powerful study in enforced conformity as Milton shows how the Nazis became increasingly intrusive in the lives of ordinary Germans, who could expect regular visits from the Gestapo. Wolfram's freethinking parents hid the books they loved (all bookshelves, insisted the Gestapo, had to be cleansed of "dirt and shame") and encouraged him in his desire to be an artist. But first he was made to join the Hitler Youth and then, aged 18, he was forced to fight, first in Russia, then in Normandy, witnessing the Allied landings from a German foxhole. Based on Wolfram's recollections (he is the author's father-in-law), with Milton providing the scene painting and historical background, this is a valuable record of what it was like to be sucked into war, and a vivid evocation of the fear and bewilderment of living in the Third Reich.