About The Führer and the Dove
My collaborator in this novel of “historical fiction” is my son Daniel, a novelist. The manuscript is still in draft; below I offer two chapters and parts of two others from the work.
Discouraged by previous failures to assassinate Hitler, The Dove Society, a German resistance group, hits on the idea of kidnapping his mistress Eva Braun, and substituting in her place a look-alike actress, Gretchen Kuntz. Her task will be to undermine Hitler psychologically, given the man’s numerous hang-ups, from sexual to social, and thereby to impede his conduct of the war. But her efforts are continually threatened by exposure, first from an actress, Mitzie Steeber, who links this new Eva Braun with a fellow actress she worked with in Cologne, then by two detectives: Lutz Erbing, hired by Hitler himself, to locate Stefanie Jantzen, a woman whose rejection of him in Linz has been festering for many years; and Hans Sachen, charged by Göring and Goebbels to uncover the reason for Hitler’s increasingly erratic behavior.
Complications arise when Mitzie Steeber is mysteriously murdered. Rudi Valoren, who first proposed the swap of Gretchen for Eva Braun, and is shocked by the suicide of Mitzie’s lover Stefan Maditz and the death of several Dove Society members, fails in an attempt to kill Hitler. Then, Lutz Erbing, Hitler’s detective who has switched his allegiance to Himmler, makes a startling connection between a Stefanie Jantzen of Hitler’s days in Linz and Gretchen Kuntz, but is murdered before he can tell his new boss. Having fallen in love with Gretchen Kuntz, Rudi Valoren tries to spring her from the Berghov, Hitler’s Alpine retreat, but is killed in a freak accident. Later, Gretchen and Willi Johannmeier, Hitler Adjutant, become lovers, and when he is transferred to the Berlin Bunker, Gretchen, defying Hitler’s orders, follows Willi. The Führer assumes his Eva wants to die with him. In despair over a false report of Willi’s death on a mission to smuggle a copy of Hitler’s Last Will to Admiral Donitz, Hitler’s designator successor, Gretchen accompanies Hitler to the small room where he has planned their double suicide. But once she learns from him the horrible truth that her “husband” has had Stefanie Jantzen, her own mother, murdered in Ravensbrück, the woman’s concentration camp, Gretchen turns the table on him in a bizarre ending that reworks the facts of Hitler’s death.
Historical fiction, The Führer and the Dove does not alter the public history of the Third Reich, what we know of Hitler’s own life, or the tragic events in Germany and the world of the 1930s and 40s. But it does weave those facts into a new pattern, through the substitution scheme, imagined conversations of well-known Nazi officials, Hitler’s private life he imagines he lives with Eva Braun, and reconstructed personalities of Goebbels, Himmler, Speer, Bormann, and other attendant lords who were, no less, deceived by Gretchen Kuntz and the Dove Society.
The book is both a feminist fantasy about a woman helping to destroy a man who discounted yet feared her gender and also about what happens when her theatre merges with his obscene reality. About love, young and old, blossoming under the most horrendous circumstances, The Führer and the Dove also speculates on what made Hitler Hitler, what factors shaped his personality, questions for which answers are, of course, never absolute. We also try to recreate “life” during the Third Reich, for the Nazi bigwigs, for the average German, and, most certainly, for those patriots who opposed the regime, and those victimized by it.