Eva's Cousin

Sibylle Knauss

Published by Thorndike Press, 2002
ISBN 10: 0786249021 / ISBN 13: 9780786249022
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Synopsis: Book by Knauss, Sibylle

Review: Eva Braun's cousin, Gertrude Weisker, was 20 years old when she played companion to Braun at the Berghof, Hitler's Bavarian aerie. Weisker kept silent about her time as a Nazi houseguest until she finally told all to German novelist Sibylle Knauss. Now Knauss has transformed Weisker's memories into the novel Eva's Cousin. While the novel's protagonist, Marlene, is a fictionalized version of Weisker, the rest of the infamous cast travel under their real names: Braun, Hitler, Goering, Speer. It's an odd and sometimes confusing project. As Marlene accompanies Eva through the final days of World War II--the days leading up to Braun's and Hitler's double suicide--we're never quite sure if we're witness to Weisker's memories or Knauss's invention. At its best, though, the book makes a compelling investigation into the mundanity of evil. Hitler is pathologized, but never diminished, as Marlene and Eva and all the rest tiptoe around him, careful not to upset him: "Nothing takes more courage than to disappoint a despot. Should he ever discover that free human beings with free will exist, it would surely be the death of him." Knauss cleverly counters Marlene's postadolescent musings with the mythically terrible world she inhabits: "I feel so lonely in Hitler's teahouse," she tells us. And "The only person who did understand me was Albert Speer." These juxtapositions indict Marlene for her very innocence, and make Eva's Cousin a powerful document of witness. --Claire Dederer

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Eva's Cousin
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Publication Date: 2002
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Good

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Sibylle Knauss
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