Author: Thasia Frank

Publisher: Counterpoint

ISBN: 978-1-58243-719-4

 
Click Here To Purchase Heidegger's Glasses: A Novel
 
“Truth is stranger than fiction” wrote Mark Twain.  But, is it?   The horrors of Nazi Germany have been the setting of countless books of non-fiction and fiction since WW11 and this book of fiction about that time-in-history is one of the strangest. 
 
Written with prosaic precision, vivid imagination, historical relevance and an uncanny ability to create memorable characters, debut author Thasia Frank has written a book that will take the reader on a journey through a unique program of the Third Reich: the Nazi Briefkation (Operation: Mail).  In this program, newly-arrived concentration camp prisoners are coerced to write letters to loved ones left behind, reassuring them that the deported are comfortable, happy and enjoying their new surroundings.  In reality, most were dead before the letters left the concentration camp.
 
And that’s where Frank’s novel takes a unique and unusual turn – the letters are not sent to their original destination. Instead, they are sent to a group of about fifty multilingual Jewish intellectuals (who had been spared the concentration camps because of their skills and experience as writers, translators, philosophers, linguists) to read and respond.  Many Nazi leaders had an obsession with the occult and were convinced that if letters of the dead did not get a response, the spirits of the deceased would somehow let others know the truth about their friends and loved family members and the Final Solution would no longer be a secret. Thus the creation of the Briefkation.
 
Living in an underground bunker that resembled a city, the scribes are ordered to answer the letters in their original language. One day, a letter written by philosopher Martin Heidegger arrives with instructions from Goebbels (Nazi Minister of Propaganda) personally: answer Heidegger’s letter written to his dear friend, fellow philosopher and optometrist Asher Engelhardt who, with his sixteen year old son, is now a prisoner in Auschwitz.  Heidegger’s letter sparks a tale of boundless imagination and riveting fantasy that could lead to the death of everyone in the bunker.
 
The two main characters in the book, SS officer Gerhardt Lodenstein (in charge of the scribes) and Elie Schacten (whose mission is to make forays outside the bunker to gather supplies), secretly work for the Resistance and Elie’s personal association with Heidegger in her university days compound the “Heidegger letter situation” as do her rescues of an eight year old boy, the optometrist Asher Engelhardt and his son potentially putting everyone in the bunker, at great risk.
 
Reading this book, one can’t help but wonder about the veracity of certain events, incidents, information – was there a Thule Society, a Briefkation, did Martin Heidegger ever write a letter to an Asher Engelhardt, how do Heidegger’s glasses feature into the story, is this a work of historical fiction with a basis in reality or is this all fiction?  The author’s ability to have the reader move beyond the book to seek answers to these and other questions is uncanny and she has a unique ability to weave story with fantasy, fact with fiction, imagination with truth and create characters who live on in the mind of the reader long after the last page has been read and the book has been closed.  And surely that is the mark of not just a good writer, but an excellent writer who hopefully, is working on her second novel which will take the reader on another journey beyond their imaginings.

Click Here To Purchase Heidegger's Glasses: A Novel