I was first introduced to the Holocaust as a ten-year-old when I was given a comic book version of The Hiding Place. Fascinated by the story of Corrie Ten Boom, I had both read the full version of The Hiding Place and seen the movie within a few years of that introduction.
As a teenager and adult, I went on to read other biographical and fiction narratives of World War II events, but all of them were from the perspective of the “good guys.” I read stories from the Warsaw ghetto, tales of many (Germans included) who helped fight against the Nazi regime from within and without, and narratives of both survivors and victims. Only occasionally did I truly delve into the darkness that was the Nazi regime itself.
That darkness, however, comprises the full scope of my most recent review novel, The End of Law. Written by Therese Down, this intense novel does not read like a work of fiction. Instead, it feels more like what a stenographer would produce when trying to incorporate real-life stories into her reproduction of notes from top-secret meetings.
I do not say that as a negative assessment of The End of Law. In fact, I believe that presentation, while not as engaging as a more dramatic novel, made this story bearable from an emotional perspective. The End of Law reflects the pure evil behind the Nazi exploration for increasingly effective and efficient methods of mass extermination. It is hard to recommend that anyone read such darkness. Yet, we need the reminder that history repeats itself. This book clearly demonstrates how quickly a disregard for human life descends into pure horror. And the sad truth is that our own nation is one in which human life is not honored.
While the “Judische problem” is mentioned in The End of Law, the story actually focuses more on the elimination of other undesirables, especially terminally ill or impaired children. The Nazis were intent on ridding their society of these “drains” upon their resources, as well as those who marred the purity of the Aryan race. Yet, they knew that the ordinary citizen would not understand the need for extermination of innocent children, regardless their handicaps. Secret meetings of top-level Nazi party members sealed the fate of hundreds of children, quietly murdered by those who were supposed to be offering them care and treatment.
This is the world explored by Therese Down in The End of Law. This is the horror captured within these pages. A dark, hard reality that we hate to delve into yet cannot afford to ignore. This evil exists.
So, do I recommend The End of Law? As hard as it may be to read, yes, I do recommend it. Fiction though it may be, it paints a real picture and stands as a reminder to us that man is capable of pure evil - and a reminder of what we will face if we choose to stand against it.