World War 2 action, thriller and romance. The haunted mind of a brave, young German patriot; the treachery and bitter betrayal of the Third Reich, soothed by the arms of a forbidden affair.
Explores the Holocaust, the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane, the German occupation of Paris, Coco Chanel's relationship with the Third Reich and British Queen Alexandra nurses posted to Normandy after the D Day landings. Spins some true events.
Action, sadness, hope and a sensual romance between an SS Officer and a British nurse.
‘On Either Side’ is essentially a love story set during World War 2 between a young German SS Officer, Karl Wulf, and an English nurse Brenda King. The couple meet late in the book when Karl is wounded at the Battle for Caen and brought to a British Field Hospital on the outskirts of the city.
Before this Karl is awarded the Knight’s Cross for courage and loyalty to the Reich demonstrated on the Eastern Front, and is assigned by Heinrich Himmler for rest and recuperation to the Sobibor death camp in a benign role to convalesce for a few weeks before being sent back to active service. Here he discovers the true purpose of the camp and is appalled and mentally scarred by the genocide he witnesses. With the help of another guard at the camp he plans a successful escape of a small group of Jewish prisoners. However, he is suspected of collusion with the escape and so sent back to Berlin. But Himmler admires the qualities of Karl, his bravery and conscientiousness, and adopts him briefly as a confidante before being reunited with his Sobibor co-conspirator and being sent to Limoges in Vichy France to take over command of an SS field base at Masset Farm in Oradour-sur-Glane (village infamous for the Oradour massacre).
With the onset of the D Day invasion, Karl’s orders are changed and he is sent to Paris, under the supervision of the German hierarchy, to root out Jews hiding in the city for deportation to the death camps. But his conscience couldn’t entertain such orders and so, before he leaves for Paris, he arranges an escape route, with the help of a local priest, for Jews from Paris to a temporary safe-house at Oradour en-route to freedom in Spain.
In Paris, he meets Coco Chanel and she helps him to arrange safe passage for a few Jews from the city to a safe-house in Oradour before Karl decides that his service to Germany would be best suited in the fight against the allies and so heads for Normandy commanding a small SS battalion. Here he is badly wounded, picked up by the Red Cross and nursed back to health in a British field hospital where he meets and falls in love with Brenda. Inevitable he is deported to England where she visits him when on leave. After the war, and Karl’s release from prison, they plan to marry.
Of course, this is just an outline of the whole story as there are many intriguing twists and turns along the way!