Three followers of the Third Reich learn that their Nazi beliefs don’t fit well into reality when they are forced to face the horrible truth of Nazism as it relates to the health and survival of a sick child. They decide on their own to do something drastic in order to save her.
In the novel, ANNA’s Bear: 5 DAYS OF MORAL CONFLICT AND PURSUIT, NAZI GERMANY, 1939, the reader follows the lives of four central characters: the docile Pastor Linderman, who eventually has an epiphany of the meaning of real faith; the beautiful Inga Salzer, the epitome of the Aryan race with her blonde hair, blue eyes, and incredible beauty, who has been selected for the Lebensborn Program and is now a breeder for the chosen SS soldiers and the future of the purity of the Aryan race; Max, a young, handsome, strong, and military minded member of the Hitler Youth; and Anna, Max’s sister, who has contracted meningitis and has been selected to be placed into the Euthanasia Program for being impure. Anna, age two, who speaks very little, is actually the pivotal character in the novel, for it is she who helps all of the other characters to find the true meaning of their existence, of compassion, and of loving one another. The story takes place over a period of five days in 1939 Nazi Germany, and it’s in these five days that the reader learns about these characters and their views of the coming One Thousand Year Reich, and how that is changed by a little girl named Anna. Set against an environment of human sheep and wolves, these three central characters, with the help of others, work to save Anna, and, in the process, find or save their own souls.
Shumaker’s writing appears effortless, and it’s quite easy to fall into his novel and become hooked. His extensive research regarding the period greatly enhances the authenticity and reality of the novel, so much so that as a reader one feels as if they are actually in Nazi Germany in 1939. As one progresses through the novel, it doesn’t take long to start seeing how the characters gradually gain an understanding of the true evil behind Nazism, and their need to get back in touch with humanity. As they come to the realizations of what is truly going on around them, Shumaker expertly allows the reader to forgive the characters of their mistaken ideations and to start rooting for them, hoping they succeed in saving Anna. Having a child as the motivator to help bring about this change is what makes the novel so human. Everyone can relate to caring for a child and wishing to protect it.
ANNA’S BEAR is a beautifully written novel of love and compassion in a world turned vicious and insane.