Karl Vanghen My Enemy, My Beloved

ISBN 13: 9780878393848

My Enemy, My Beloved

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9780878393848: My Enemy, My Beloved
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On the day following the historic breakthrough of the American army into Aachen, Germany, sixteen-year-old Elsa Sommer drove into New Ulm, Minnesota, from her father s farm to keep a dentist appointment. A cavity had cost her a night s sleep. Elsa had been farm reared and toughened by weather and labor. Even so, throughout her youth, and by following the example of her parents, she had acquired a belief in God as strong as faith could make it. She thought often about the boys in uniform, innocents caught up in a maelstrom of horror. War news always saddened her, and for that reason it was seldom discussed at the dinner table. Many of the folks in New Ulm were of German extraction, immigrants mostly. Some had arrived in America just before Europe had been swept up in Hitler s fiendish hand. Scores of residents had relatives in Germany, and many harbored strong memories of their homeland. Some looked upon the war with a split allegiance. But although their minds still retained visions of the Fatherland, their hearts prayed for the American boys who had breached the Siegfried Line and were now fighting on German soil. The war had taken away the best of them, and hearts were heavy. Most everyone in town knew of someone in the service. As if to augment the news from Europe, work had been ongoing for some time at the abandoned CCC camp south of the city. Those who kept tabs on such things indicated that it would soon become a prisoner-of-war camp to house a contingent of Germans coming up from Algona, Iowa. Brown County was short of labor, and manpower was needed to keep the factories running at full output. Despite their Germanic ties, many in New Ulm disliked the prospect of having young enemy soldiers living in such close proximity with them. Unfortunately, they had no choice but to go along with the government decree . . .

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About the Author:

Born in 1929 at the beginning of the Great Depression, Karl married and started a family. He served in the U.S. Navy aboard the U.S.S. Wisconsin during the Korean War. After his discharge, he spent years building a career in graphic arts, and using his father s advice to always do more than you re paid to do, he eventually became the company vice president. His interests in writing and painting were put on hold until he had time to pursue those avocations. Before his retirement, he became an award-winning wildlife artist, and, afterwards, a published author. Karl s latest book, My Enemy, My Beloved, explores the life of a young WWII German POW. Karl became interested in this subject when he visited a WWII museum, and learned that Minnesota housed over 6,000 German POW in 1945, living in camps across the state. His hero lands in the U.S. Midwest at the height of hatred and discrimination, only to find love and the meaning of hope in New Ulm, Minnesota. Having relatives in the New Ulm area, Karl knew the residents were primarily of Germany decent so this intrigued him, and he places his hero in the New Ulm camp. Karl and his wife live in Shoreview, Minnesota, where he has started his third novel, also a historical fiction based in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Review:

My Enemy, My Beloved begins where many books end, with victories and defeated armies' returning home to "normal" life on opposite sides of the world. The differerece is what makes this a fascinating and enjoyable read. Vanghen's main talent lies in character study, evident in the admirable sensitivity with which he deals with all the people involved, the other POWs, the Minnesota family and friends, everyone in a tightly knit, upper Midwest community, many of German descent. It is the story of an unlikely couple that meet in rural Minnesota, where the inmate of a POW camp in New Ulm, and a local farm girl, form a lasting bond. --Dr. Drid Williams, anthropology professor, worldwide lecturer, and professional dancer

Karl Vanghen's ability to create suspense is incredible. I was pulled along from beginning to end, always waiting for what was to come next. He never disappointed me, and it's been a long time since a work of fiction has absorbed me so completely. I knew nothing of the history of German POWs here, and his attention to historical detail was amazing. In truth, I was astonished by the power of the story. Thanks for the many hours of most pleasureable reading. --Mary Stewart Swanson, Ph.D, writer, editor and educator

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Vanghen, Karl
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