Scrapbookpages Blog

August 10, 2015

Novel about an affair, involving a Jewish girl and a Nazi, is causing quite a stir

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — furtherglory @ 9:46 am

The following newspaper caption is on the photo below, which accompanies this news story:  An unlikely romantic hero … Julius Viel a former SS-commander, who murdered seven Jewish prisoners of the concentration camp Theresienstadt in 1945. Photograph: Thomas Kienzle/AP


One of the regular readers of my blog is Wolf Murmelstein, the son of the last Jewish Elder of Theresienstadt. Perhaps he can add some information to this story about a former Commandant of Theresienstadt.

This quote is from the news story cited above, which you can read in full here:

A romantic novel in which a “blonde and blue-eyed Jewess” falls in love with an SS-Kommandant in Theresienstadt concentration camp has caused outrage and offence in the romance writing community after it was shortlisted for two top awards.

Kate Breslin’s For Such a Time is a riff on the Old Testament’s Book of Esther, in which the Jewish girl Hadassah, known as Esther, marries the Persian king Ahasuerus, and saves her people from a genocide. In Breslin’s version, Hadassah hides behind the identity of Stella Muller while working as a secretary for [fictional] SS Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt. She “finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy”, as she tries to save the camp’s prisoners. Eventually, she converts to Christianity.

For Such a Time was shortlisted for two prizes in the Romance Writers of America’s annual awards: best first book, and best “inspirational” – meaning Christian – romance earlier this year. While it did not win, the fact it was nominated for the prestigious prizes prompted Sarah Wendell, author and co-founder of the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books romance website, to write to the RWA’s board of directors laying out why the decision to shortlist the novel was “so offensive and upsetting”.

“This is a romance between a Jewish prisoner and a Nazi officer who was in charge of a concentration camp. To put it mildly, I don’t see this set-up as an imbalance of power that could possibly be redeemed in a romance narrative, nor do I think the setting and characterisation is remotely romantic. But I think this issue is much larger than my individual opinion,” wrote Wendell, in a piece which has since gone viral.

End quote from news story.

I previously blogged about a similar story, in which Rudolf Hoess, the Commandant of Auschwitz, had an affair with a prisoner.

I also blogged about Rudolf Hoess and his affair with a prisoner on this blog post:


  1. First of all: Benjamin Murmelstein had been the LAST JEWISH ELDER – not the last Commandant – of Theresienstadt. Then, as this stupid novel concerns: My Father mentioned one time about an SS man who had had a relationship with an inmate. Furthermore the last Commander SS OSTF Rahm had had a female secretary obviously pure aryan who wore a green-gray gown. As to the comparision with the biblical figure Ester: Ester had been forced to be one of the wives of King Artaxerxes II and she certainly had not married Haman! Mentioning the pretended conversion of a Shoah survivor to Christian fate as a redemption is, indeed, a new form of antisemitism and a way to cancell the fact that the Shoah had been the first persecution of Jews where no one could escape by conversion to Christianity. Among the, at least, six milion victims there had been many who belonged to one of the Churches. Even in a fiction the historical background ought to be respected.

    Comment by Wolf MURMELSTEIN — August 10, 2015 @ 1:20 pm

    • I have made a correction on my blog post. It now says that your father was the last Jewish Elder.

      Comment by furtherglory — August 10, 2015 @ 2:03 pm

    • Thank you very much for your comment. I knew that you would set the story straight.

      Comment by furtherglory — August 10, 2015 @ 2:04 pm

  2. Wendell may be lacking in romantic impulses. Or, such as she has are overwhelmed by her literariness. Or her Jewishness. Or both.

    Comment by Jett Rucker — August 10, 2015 @ 11:08 am

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