Under the Shadow of The Swastika
Kathleen Makkreel, author
A timely memoir of life under Nazi occupation vividly reminds us that most of the war's damage is collateral, most of the casualties are non-combatants, and most of their wounds are psychological. A boy and his family learn to survive after German forces destroy and occupy Rotterdam. An uncle reveals traitorous Nazi ties that lead to a commission as Waffen SS officer and his sister takes up with a German soldier and defects to Germany. Meanwhile, teen-aged Jan Makkreel lives by his as he is drawn into an illegal transport of food, assisting Jews, and smuggling resistance information and false documents. Jan is wrongly labeled a traitor at war's end. Charged with collaboration and betraying Jews, he is imprisoned with true Nazis where he comes of age in gritty prison situations that test him as a man. After eighteen months, the police clear him wrongdoing and release him into a society that receives him only as an ex-convict Jan Makkreel's account reveals how the burden of war and occupation leaves wounds and division that in some cases can be neither forgotten nor healed.