Q&A Marion Kummerow:
Q) Please explain to the readers the true story behind the novel unrelenting?
A) Unrelenting and the two following books Unyielding and Unwavering are the fictionalized account of the true story of my grandparents Hansheinrich and Ingeborg Kummerow who fought in the German resistance against the Nazis.
When I was a child, nobody ever talked about them. You have to understand that they worked for the “wrong” side of the Allies in WW2.
During the cold war they were still considered as traitors, because of their communist/socials ideals.
Only after the German reunification, the political climate changed and they were now seen as “real” heroes who had fought to free their country from its evil government.
I wanted to give them a voice and remind the world about how hard it is to stand up and fight for what you think is the right thing.
Q) Do you feel there is a lack of novels about the German resistance? I know I personally haven’t read that many myself.
A) Probably yes. But I believe the world hasn’t been ready to read them until recently.
As the losing party of WW2 the Germans were the bad guys. You can see that in every Hollywood film. It took at least one generation to get enough distance to be able to see things a bit more differentiated.
Q) There is a real message in this novel of the dangers of fascism and the suffering it brings everyone in society. Do you feel this is something people are too easily forgetting from history?
A) People tend to forget very fast. Fascism is fun and easy in the beginning – at least to the majority of people. It’s a “we” against “them” and humans are prone to think in these categories. You can see similar things happening during any sports game.
But when a talented demagogue uses this sentiment of “belonging to a group” for his cruel purpose, then things get out of control. And people find out too late what they have themselves gotten into.
So yes, I think, we should teach history in school and remind everyone to stay alert to dangers of personal freedom and democracy.
Q) The book is well researched and in-depth. What is something you came across during the research process that surprised/shocked you?
A) We had learned about the Holocaust in school, and most people tend to believe this started during the war.
But when doing my research I was surprised to find out, that Jews had been discriminated even before Hitler’s rise to power. And basically in his first year as chancellor in 1933 he made it pretty clear where he was headed – but nobody believed him. Not even the persecuted Jews.
In Unrelenting, Q’s friend Jakob is one of those person who didn’t think he should emigrate, because things “would pass”. They didn’t.
Jakob by the way is a real person, but I couldn’t find out what happened to him after 1936, so everything about him after book 1 is invented.
Q) I personally think this would be a fantastic novel for teenagers to debate in English or History class. Is that something you have considered, in the UK or Germany?
A) Blushing with pride.
This had crossed my mind, but I haven’t seriously considered it. My book is written in English and would probably be too hard to read for German school kids.
As for the UK, it would certainly be an idea I’m open to, if I can find a teacher who wants to take up that project.
Q) I hope I didn’t shock you with my admiration/love for Q and his beliefs. But there is definitely something about different characters & eras, that women in 2017 can find hugely appealing. I can distinctively remember; how long it took me to get over Leo Demidov from the novel Child 44.
A) First of all thanks, I can understand your admiration for Q. I do admire him myself. Unfortunately I never met my grandfather, but had to discover his personality through his letters and letters from several family members.
On the pictures of Hansheinrich I have, he looks amazingly like my father. And I could see many of his characteristics, i.e. the urge to collect everything, repeated in my father. So I’m sure, Q has many traits of my father as well J Hilde was a lot more difficult to write.
*Thank you so much Marion for your help and agreeing to a Q&A on my blog 🙂