Jay's questions directed our discussion. In most cases, we were in agreement as to the answers to the questions. We brought out a lot of depth in our answers, as usual. One question that brought out some interesting discussion was When did the Dodd family, and particularly Martha, experience a turning point of understanding the situation as an evil one? Pam noticed that Martha went back and forth, for example seeing a concentration camp and seemingly changing her previous view of the attractive Germany but then a few chapters later bouncing back to her tendency to view the persecution as isolated incidents. Rather than a weakness on the author's part, others in our group saw this vacillation of the Dodds as representing to the reader a realistic view of the Dodds being unable to believe the depth of evil that Hitler's early displays of power reflected.
In the book, Larson didn't ever go into detail on the situations in the United States and Russia during Hitler's rise to power. In our discussion, we found that the history of the United States and Russia were significantly related to the success of Nazi Germany. Frank noted that the United States was undergoing the Great Depression, which meant that the American government was focused inwardly. Also, the United States didn't have a powerful armed forces at that time; whereas Hitler spent much of those 10 years building a huge army that encompassed almost every able-bodied young man in Germany. Dennis reminded us that another reason why Hitler was able to work without disturbance from the rest of the world was that there was chaos in many countries at the time after World War I, particularly in Russia, where Stalin was enacting purges and persecution similar to those of Hitler in Germany.
I particularly enjoyed the answers to Jay's question, "What wasn't answered by the book?" Answers about the unanswered included, "Whatever happened to the Jewish family who owned the house the Dodds rented?," "What was Bill Dodd doing during his stay in Germany? (and afterwards, although someone said he ended up as a salesman in the United States)," and "Why didn't Martha's mother rein her in more?" Someone said that we do not know what transpired between Martha and her mother, because there was no diary published about this. I guess that this makes sense but I would add that Martha might have indeed journaled about arguments with her mother and decided later to keep them from the public eye. I admit that "journaled" is a bit of an anachronistic/futuristic term for the 1930s. But Martha did indeed "journal," and would surely have blogged if she were able to!
This book did not gloss over the horrors inflicted by the Nazi regime but gave us insight into the chain of events that climaxed in World War II.
Resources: "Our" Frank Campbell has posted in his new blog about this book, which he read with us. To read his post, go to: http://frankcampbell56.blogspot.com/ The article about the book is called "A Sheep Among the Wolves."
Jay found some books by Martha Dodd that are available in the UT library. You can view them at the library but not borrow them. Thus, they will be there if you go looking for them! Here is Jay's list: