Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Is history the agreed upon lie? by Christoph Fischer


Today begins a series of posts from the archives of author Christoph Fischer who in his research for books has found it difficult at times to discover the truth of events. History is usually written by the victors…. in the days before World War I and II the only source of information was state owned media in print and then in radio. If that is the only truth you are fed then it will colour your observations and also recollections of events.

Is history the agreed upon lie? by Christoph Fischer

I must say that this is an excellent question and one that I have often thought about before writing historical novels.

Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Wall

When the Berlin Wall came down, the German press was full of Chancellor Kohl walking along a river with President Gorbachev and the myth was created that on this “walk-and-talk” only Kohl’s diplomatic skills led to the German reunification. Praise the hero and superman Kohl. But was it really likely that anyone wanted two separate German states or cared in the period that was Glasnost? At the times many bought into the story, after all, didn’t it sound nicer than the idea that Russia had no longer an interest in the broken satellite state? Still, the myth made its way to history books and has always slightly bothered me because in my view it was created for all the wrong reasons.

In my research for “The Luck of the Weissensteiners”, I came across quite a few sources that seemed politically coloured. One history book about Slovakia as a state from the middle ages to the present only had a short chapter about the entire WWII era and it pretty much painted a whiter than white picture of Slovakia, an axis power at the time. Although it appears that the author didn’t even speak the language and had not researched within the country archives, there was no dispute about the book since it agreed with the polished version of events that many people in present day Slovakia would prefer to agree upon.

Archives have been destroyed by the axis powers, collaborators of Hitler managed to find their way back into the important positions, Communist regimes tried to white wash the former fascist past to bring the nation in line with its policy and many other factors might have come into play and make efficient research admittedly difficult. Let alone human sentiment and forgetfulness.

Mary Heimann learned Czech and did enormous research of her own for a book on Czechoslovakia as a state, but her findings are highly disputed, partially because they may not be totally waterproof and partially probably because they are painting a much less favourable picture of both Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

One example: Jews in Slovakia were safe for an extremely long time compared to other axis power states. The religious wing of the Fascist party claims credit for it. Others claim that the high price per head for each Jew that had to be paid to the German Reich had something to do with the reluctance of the then government to comply with Hitler’s demands.
Personal presidential exemption papers to save individual Jews from transportation allegedly were used in multiple thousands according to some sources but in much smaller numbers in others.

Admittedly, with so much original data destroyed and with such strong political and personal agendas to portray one’s country retrospectively, with eye witnesses dying away, who is to say which version is indeed true?

During my research for “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” I saw so many references made to the golden days of Vienna before WWI, the tolerant multi-cultural city and the Jew-friendly times. It was why I decided to set “Sebastian” in that period. My research for the new book however showed a much more complex and less favourable picture than I had anticipated. Particularly the work of Stefan Zweig, a Jew living in those times, challenges those assumptions strongly. Of course his work is mainly fiction and the history books can dismiss him easily as non-academic. So who do we believe?

Somewhere in my research a source wisely suggested that because of the horror that came twenty years later people’s memory changed their perception of the times and idealised the times in comparison, which makes a lot of sense.

The consequence for me as a writer is to keep checking data, to read all sides to a story and remember that history books are all relative when it comes to unquantifiable data. It is a continuous dispute and in most cases a wonderful challenge to think for yourself and maybe to find the occasional source material that brings in new light and aspects to what you think you knew.

I tried in my books to use the controversy in my favour, to let different characters make opposing statements, assumptions and predictions. Many of those characters didn’t have a television, radio or any type of reliable data to find out about what goes on beyond their own little corner of the world. And who can claim to have the comprehensive view, the complete information and can be sure to draw the right conclusions. All of this makes history exciting and a living process as long as it is not deliberately falsified. The line between misinterpretation and lie however are often more than blurred.

©Christoph Fischer 2013

About Christoph Fischer

Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small town in West Wales. He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family.

Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline. ‘
The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ was published in November 2012; ‘Sebastian’ in May 2013 and ‘The Black Eagle Inn’ in October 2013 – which completes his ‘Three Nations Trilogy’. “Time to Let Go”, his first contemporary work was published in May 2014, and “Conditions”, another contemporary novel, in October 2014. The sequel “Conditioned” was published in October 2015. His medical thriller “The Healer” was released in January 2015 and his second thriller “The Gamblers” in June 2015. He published two more historical novels “In Search of a Revolution” in March 2015 and “Ludwika” in December 2015.
He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.

The Luck of the Weissensteiners: Book 1 of The Three Nations Trilogy

About the book

In the sleepy town of Bratislava in 1933 a romantic girl falls for a bookseller from Berlin. Greta Weissensteiner, daughter of a Jewish weaver, slowly settles into life with the Winkelmeier clan. The political climate and slow disintegration of the multi-cultural society in Czechoslovakia becomes more complex and affects relations between the couple and their families.
The story follows their lot through the war with its torment, destruction and its unpredictability – and the equally hard times after.

From the moment that Greta Weissensteiner enters the bookstore where Wilhelm Winkelmeier works, and entrances him with her good looks and serious ways, I was hooked. But this is no ordinary romance; in tact it is not a romance at all, but a powerful, often sad, Holocaust story.

What makes The Luck of the Weissensteiners so extraordinary is the chance Christoph Fischer gives his readers to consider the many different people who were never in concentration camps, never in the military, yet who nonetheless had their own indelible Holocaust experiences. Set in the fascinating area of Bratislava, this is a wide-ranging, historically accurate exploration of the connections between social location, personal integrity and, as the title says, luck. I cared about every one of this novel’s characters and continued to think about them long after I’d finished reading.

One of the many excellent reviews for the book

It’s THAT good on 9 September 2013

Following Greta from pre-WWII Bratislava through Carlsbad through Aschaffenburg and ultimately to post-war Frankfurt is a well-written journey. Fischer’s The Luck of the Weissensteiners had me hooked into the journey, turning pages and asking the same question Greta stumbles upon frequently, “Where were friends or enemies?”

The novel is a historically sound piece dealing with loyalty, stigma, love, loneliness and oppression set against a backdrop of Eastern Europe’s turmoil. The characters’ lives were confounded at so many intersections by the results of a powerful anti-Semetic propaganda campaign. They don’t go to an Auschwitz or Buchenwald, but you quickly see that avoiding the camps was not freedom for the articulately drawn and likeable characters. You want to see what happens next to them and can feel the tension Fischer relays so well.

Chapters 3, 10 and 13 capture Greta’s emotion, tragedies and near-misses so intensely I bookmarked and went back for a welcome re-read. The book accomplishes a lot in covering more than a decade and a half without making a reader feeling rushed or missing something in the timeline. It’s paced that well … and the Epilogue cleanly tied together the themes and characters of the entire novel as a great exhibit of Fischer’s talent.

Read some of the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Luck-Weissensteiners-Three-Nations-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00AFQC4QC

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Luck-Weissensteiners-Three-Nations-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00AFQC4QC

A selection of the books by Christoph Fischer.

Read all the reviews and buy the books: http://www.amazon.com/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ

Read more reviews and follow Christoph on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6590171.Christoph_Fischer

Connect to Christoph

Website: http://www.christophfischerbooks.com/
Blog: http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CFFBooks
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/christophffisch/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=241333846
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WriterChristophFischer?ref=hl

My thanks to Christoph for sharing this post from his archives. Today with televised news on the spot in most countries it is more difficult to subvert the truth, despite some governments best efforts.  It will be interesting to come back in a hundred years to see how present day events have been manipulated!

I am now looking for assorted Festive posts for December, recollections of Christmas past, family, humour, short stories, poems, recipes etc.. Have a delve through your previous December posts and if you are not planning on re-using.. pop them over to me at sally.cronin@moyhill.com

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Update – Lucy Brazier, Colleen Chesebro and Christoph Fischer.


The first update is for Lucy Brazier with the second PorterGirl novel, The Vanishing Lord which was released on June 10th 2017.

About the book

There’s nothing quite so annoying as having the police arrive when you are trying to cover up a crime that may or may not have happened.

Lord Bernard has died unexpectedly. Is Deputy Head Porter being framed? Head Porter just wants to be kept out of the picture.

In this fast-paced whimsical British romp, a priceless work of art – the portrait of Old College founding father Lord Arthur Layton – has gone missing and with the death of Lord Bernard, the Master of arch rivals Hawkins College, there is nothing for it but for our heroine to don her trusty bowler hat and embark upon another eccentric investigation.

In this sequel to the debut PorterGirl novel, First Lady of The Keys, Old College’s first and only female Porter must find the portrait or it will be her that is flat on the canvas and framed like a kipper.
Tenacious detectives, ill-advised disguises, saucy medieval literature and Russian spies conspire to confuse matters further in this entertaining escapade.

An early review

In ‘The Vanishing Lord’ the second of the PorterGirl novels Deputy Head Porter has found her feet – even when disguised as a flighty girl in killer heels! So many scenes Lucy has brought to life in her inimitable way, framed and hung around a missing painting … with a touch of medieval spice … don’t ask just read!
Deputy Head Porter, bowler hat and waistcoat her usual attire, the ‘First Lady of the Keys’ at Old College, a world of doors and gates, dark passages , tea and whisky, secrets and mischievous ways … a world in which everyone knows and known by their place. Such characters, from The Master to the Bedders … all slightly to the downright quirky!
None more so than The Dean, a triumph of imagination, he steals every scene he’s in. And then there are the outsiders – the police, so inconveniently tenacious, and an excitable young man with thighs … no spoilers … I’ll let Lucy tell you … this novel, as the first one, such a joy to read.
Also by Lucy Brazier
 

The latest review for the book on Goodreads

 May 19, 2017 Marje Mallon rated it 4 stars.

Really enjoyed this so much!

I’ve had PorterGirl on my must read radar for some time. For three reasons, one it’s set in Cambridge, (and I live in Cambridge too,) and two I have enjoyed reading Lucy’s blog Porter Girl and following her.

Also, my youngest daughter works part-time as a waitress in one of the colleges in Cambridge so I hear all about college life from her, and all about the sumptuous food….

So my impressions of PorterGirl… I really enjoyed PG. It’s one of those books that lifts your spirits up and puts you in a fantastic mood. It prompts you to put the kettle on and eat lots of forbidden biscuits! Lol… Porter G’s experience as the first female porter of a prestigious Cambridge University college is a lively riot from start to finish, full of humour, tea, and jokes about eating fabulous food when and wherever PorterGirl can… Being a foodie, this constant ambition to raid the fridges and steal food from under her colleagues’ hungry noses had me in stitches, as did crazy but ever so serious tasks such as PorterGirl rescuing a most important College cat via a precarious punting escapade. There’s never a dull moment, but a dollop of rising fear ensues as PorterGirl discovers murders are being committed in Old College. She begins to fear for her life, but PorterGirl is no coward, (a former copper,) she manages to keep herself safe, until…. it gets a bit hot under the bowler hat. Even so, her bowler hat remains proudly on top of her head, never to be removed not even in the most dire, calamitous of circumstance!

My recommendation: 4 stars. A favourite read that will make you smile a lot – and smiling is one of my favourite pastimes. Lucy has a pleasing writing style that makes you feel as if you know her personally. But, this novel should come with a health warning: This will make you laugh so much that you will splutter out your tea and biscuits! I reckon our friends across the water will find the copious amount of tea drinking that is a signature style of PorterGirl exceedingly amusing!

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/PorterGirl-First-Lady-Lucy-Brazier-ebook/dp/B01JT0F9QQ

Read other reviews and find out more about Lucy Brazier by following her on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14129066.Lucy_Brazier

Connect to Lucy via her website: https://portergirl.com/

Now for an update for Colleen Chesebro whose book The Swamp Fairy was reviewed by Robbie Cheadle on her blog.

About the book

Fourteen-year-old Abigale Forester, recently orphaned and a ward of the State of Illinois moves from Chicago to Florida to live with her aunt, her last living relative. Magnolia Forester becomes her legal Guardian, and together they claim an ancient inheritance; land that belonged to Abby’s mother’s family for generations.

Holding onto the only piece of her mother Abby has left, a calcite pendant and her mother’s most sacred possession, she discovers the truth of her legacy. The pendant is more significant than she could possibly imagine. Forged from a giant mystical heart-shaped stone found on the very swamp land Abby now owns, it holds the power of her ancestors.

But with that power comes greater responsibility, one that pits her against Rafe Cobb, a greedy land developer, who will stop at nothing to own Abby’s swamp land.

As Abby learns to be part of a family again and explores her love of horses with friends, Savanna, and Blake, the swamp slowly gives up some of its secrets. She is summoned by a primeval nymph, who teaches Abby that her true destiny is to protect the nymphs from evil in an ever-changing modern world.

Can Abby save the swamp and the Naiad Nymph Clan from certain destruction before it is too late?

Robbie Cheadle’s Review: https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/my-review-of-the-heart-stone-chronicles/

This book contained absolutely everything I could wish for in a book including an orphan girl, a trained guide dog, horses, wonderful friends, a kind and loving Aunt and, best of all, fairies. The main character is an fourteen year old orphan girl, Abby, who moves to Florida to live with her unmarried and childless Aunt after living her entire life in the city of Chicago.

Abby has an unusual gift in that she can hear and communicate with all forms of animals and insects and, as she discovers soon into her new life, the ability to see and talk to fairies. Abby relocates with very little to her name other than a calcite pendant that is given to her just before she leaves Chicago by her Mother’s best friend and the papers to a piece of land that has been in her Mother’s family for generations. Abby soon discovers that this piece of swamp land, while seeming to be of little financial value in its current state, is the home to a clan of nymphs who play a vital role in ensuring the continued ability of humanity of fight diseases with medicinal plants. The land is, however, very enticing to an unethical and greedy land developer who seems determined to get his hands on Abby’s swamp regardless of anything and anyone standing in his way.

Abby gradually comes to realise that her gifts come with a great responsibility and that it is her destiny to protect the fairy clan that live in the swamp from the current threat.

The book contains some beautiful haikus and descriptive passages. It is not very often in modern books that you get to enjoy language that brings into play all of the senses in such a delightful way. A few of the passages that particularly enchanted me are as follows:

“Her heart beat rapidly in her chest when she glimpsed the butterflies and the resplendent dragonflies. She was ready for the cacophony of sound that vibrated inside her head. These were the communications of those who shared the swamp with her. And, yet, the acoustics overwhelmed her.”

“The late afternoon was hot, and the air felt thick. The smell of ripe grasses filled her nose. She spotted blue and red dragonflies darting in the field. Their wings sparkled in the sunlight as they perched on the wire fence sunning themselves.

I would recommend this book for children, particularly girls, from the ages of 11 years to 111.

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Stone-Chronicles-Swamp-Fairy-ebook/dp/B01MU69MXT

Find out more about Colleen Chesebro, read more reviews and follow on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16254415.Colleen_M_Chesebro

Connect to Colleen via her website: https://colleenchesebro.com/

The next author for an update is Christoph Fischer with his murder/mystery The Body in the Snow.

About the book

Fading celebrity Bebe Bollinger is on the wrong side of fifty and dreaming of a return to the limelight. When a TV show offers the chance of a comeback, Bebe grabs it with both hands – not even a lazy agent, her embarrassing daughter, irritating neighbours or a catastrophic snowfall will derail her moment of glory. But when a body is found in her sleepy Welsh hamlet, scandal threatens. Detective Sergeant Beth Cooper has a string of unsolved cases to her name. Her girlfriend left her and she’s a fish out of water in rural West Wales. Things couldn’t get much worse – until the case of the Body in The Snow lands in her lap. Can Beth solve the case and save her career and can Bebe make her comeback? All will be revealed in this light-hearted, cosy murder mystery by best-selling and award winning historical and crime fiction novelist Christoph Fischer.

The two latest reviews on Amazon

I have to admit that I’d never actually read a who-done-it, but having read most of Christoph Fischer’s earlier books, I just had to take the plunge. And though I’ve nothing in the genre to compare it with, I was not disappointed. I especially like the setting; the description of the Welsh countryside–where the author now resides–made me feel I a was there. As a permanently transplanted Floridian, I haven’t seen (nor wanted to see) snow in 15 years, but Fischer’s depiction brought me back to the specter of a New England winter with a shudder. There is quite a bit of backstory surrounding the characters, so by the time you learn the truth you know them very well. Or think you know them…

I’ve read few cozy mysteries so I won’t address if or how well “The Body In The Snow” fits that category. And due to personal time constraints, the time it took me to read the book reflects only on my circumstances, not the book.

I will say I always looked forward to reading the next snippet of story I sneaked in at bed before no longer pretending I could still see the print well enough to read (smiles). The leisurely style of the story plus the relatively short chapters did make it easier to pace myself reading. My only regret was that the story finished; I hope the author does create a series (as indicated by the title).

I enjoy shifting points of view and each chapter rotated through an increasingly more interesting cast of characters. Pacing as I mentioned was steady yet with moments of acceleration. Descriptions were crisp and clean adding punch and clarity.

This was a fun read. My solid 4.5 for this story easily rounded to a five.

My short and minor wish list includes a desire for a few well placed metaphors or similes. Like a spritz of lemon or sprinkle of herbs on fresh cooked vegetables, short emotional extensions of a description or the garnishing of a stream of consciousness, would have I think widened my imagination.

Beyong that, I thought the third person deep povs worked really well. It made relating to – and suspecting – nearly every character in the book easy (smiles). Surprisingly, the mystery of identifying the opening scene’s murder victim mid-book layered the mystery-level as a whole to an even more tangled level.

And finally, not meeting Beth, the protagonist, till well past the beginning of the book, created such a sense of relief and footing, I don’t know how else this potentially first in a series could have been written. In other words, the story unfolded naturally and unforced. An easy to read yet complex tale. Highly recommend.

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Body-Snow-Bollinger-Murder-Mystery/dp/1537329766

A selection of books also by Christoph Fischer.

Read all the reviews and buy the books: http://www.amazon.com/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ

Read more reviews and follow Christoph on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6590171.Christoph_Fischer

Connect to Christoph via his website: http://www.christophfischerbooks.com/

Thank you for dropping in today and if you are in the bookstore and would like to share news about a recent release, review or offer, then please get in touch at sally.cronin@moyhill.com..

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