As Governor of Galicia, SS BrigadesfÃ¼hrer Otto Freiherr von WÃ¤chter presided over an authority on whose territory hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles were killed. By the time the war ended in May 1945, he was indicted for ‘mass murder’. Hunted by the Soviets, the Americans and the British, as well as groups of Poles and Jews, WÃ¤chter went on the run. He spent three years hiding in the Austrian Alps before making his way to Rome and being taken in by the Vatican where he remained for three months. While preparing to travel to Argentina on the ‘ratline’ he died unexpectedly, in July 1949, a few days after having lunch with an ‘old comrade’ whom he suspected of having been recruited by the Americans. Here, Philippe Sands offers a unique account of the daily life of a Nazi fugitive, the love between WÃ¤chter and his wife Charlotte, who continued to write regularly to each other while he was on the run.
Gina, the only child of a widowed general, lives a cosseted and carefree existence in Budapest, even in the shadow of the Second World War. When the general sends her to girls’ boarding school in Debrecen, in the east of the country, she is devastated. Her belongings are taken away on arrival, and she is initiated into the peculiar rites of her peers. She soon finds herself ostracised and, desperately unhappy, tries to escape. When brought back to the school, all she can do is entrust her fate to the legendary and mysterious Abigail, a statue of a woman in the school grounds, to whom the pupils confide their troubles in handwritten messages. But who is the mystifying figure behind Abigail, who wishes her well? Eventually Gina achieves hard-won solidarity in a restrictive environment, and begins to discover her place in the world.