Title: From Dust and Ashes
Author: Tricia Goyer
Series: WWII Liberators series
Major Themes: Germany, Austria, Concentration Camps, Christian Fiction
Synopsis: As the wife of an SS guard, Helene’s hands had been tied as far as helping people who were taken to a concentration camp, but after the war was over, she had her chance—but would they accept her help if they knew who she was?
From Dust and Ashes was another book I came across when I looked at the next book in alphabetical order in my Kindle. I had no clue what it was about, but it turned out to be quite a powerful story. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about the liberation of the concentration camps after World War II.
As the war came to an end, Helene’s husband Friedrich took off running. He knew that, as an SS guard, he would be in trouble when the Americans arrived. Helene, on the other hand, was somewhat relieved that he was gone. The man she loved, the man she had married, had died inside several years before when he helped to eliminate children who were brought to the local camp, where he worked. Helene had always wanted to help the people in the camp—now was her chance. Enlisting the help of Peter, an American soldier, she brought two women to her father’s home. With aid from a couple of soldiers, she nursed them back to health—but what a shock to the Americans and to the liberated prisoners when they finally realized who Helene was! Could they ever forgive her or learn to trust her again?
When the Russians moved into this area of Austria, Helene knew she was in trouble. Not only was her life in danger, but her two children’s, as well. What could she do? Her father had a plan . . . but would it work? And when Arno figured out what she was doing, was there any way to escape the wrath of that former SS guard? What about Peter’s attentions to her? Should she encourage him?
I found From Dust and Ashes a very engrossing book. It helped to bring the concentration camps to life in a different way than I’ve come across before, from the point of view of an outsider suddenly coming into them. I had never thought much about the fate of the SS men after the war—Tricia Goyer brings that to life, as well. What heartbreak was faced by the wives of those men—I had never thought about it before. This book is well-done and feels very realistic.
WARNING: Conditions in the concentration camps are described fairly graphically. At one place, Helene is shot at while trying to escape, and later a man is sentenced to be hung.