Follow Here To Purchase The Ambassador

Authors: Yehuda Avner (Deceased March 2015) & Matt Rees

Publisher: The Toby Press

ISBN: 978-1-59264-388-2

Review of Arc Copy

Yehuda Avner was a former advisor to Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin. He was also the Ambassador to the UK and Non-resident Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland. With his vast knowledge concerning the history of Israel as well as the Holocaust has teamed up with award-winning crime novelist, Matt Rees to craft a story that succinctly can be described as a “what if scenario.”

Taking a page from history, the authors quote in their Preface David Ben-Gurion's letter to Ben-Tzion Katz in September of 1957 when he states: “Had partition (under the Peel Commission plan of 1937) been carried out, the history of our people would have been different and six million Jews in Europe would not have been killed-most of them would be in Israel.” What Ben Gurion was referring to was the British Royal Committee of Inquiry headed by Lord Peel (the Peel Commission) which proposed in 1937 the partitioning of the British Mandate of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. It would have divided the Mandate into three parts; leaving a slice for the British, with the Jews receiving a very small autonomous homeland, the Arabs a much larger one, and also necessitating an exchange of population involving the transfer of some Arabs and Jews.

As the story unfolds, the State of Israel comes into existence in 1937 following the Peel Commission and not as actually transpired in 1948. Israel opens diplomatic relations with Germany and sends its first Ambassador, Dan Lavi, who is the protagonist in the novel to Berlin and who comes face-to-face with Hitler when he presents his ambassadorial credentials. The time frame is a few years before Nazi Germany's plan to systematically exterminate the Jewish population in Nazi-occupied Europe through genocide. This policy was formulated in procedural terms at the Wannsee Conference in January 1942, and culminated in the Holocaust which saw the killing of two thirds of the Jewish population of Europe.

One of Lavi's primary tasks involves the complex scheme pertaining to the implementation of The Transfer Agreement, a deal signed by Ben-Gurion with Hitler's underlings in 1933 wherein the Nazis permitted a transfer of a certain number of Jews to Palestine. As part of the agreement, the Jews were permitted to keep most of their property as long as they left for Palestine. Hitler wanted the Jews out of Europe, where he intended to create his Aryan empire.

Lavi's dilemma was that he is forced to deal with the murderous Nazi, Adolph Eichmann who was in charge with facilitating and managing the logistics of mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps in German-occupied Eastern Europe during World War II. In addition, he also had to deal with the excruciating task in meeting with countless refugees who came to him every day seeking passage to Israel and who informed him of the atrocities that were being committed. When he returns to Israel, what might he be accused of-collaboration with the Nazis?

The Israeli Embassy is also home to Wilhelm Gottfried, a noted violinist who manages to escape Germany after he had been deprived of performing with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra as well as further performances in Germany. Gottfried becomes an Israeli diplomat and is in a love relationship with Countess Hannah Von Bredow, granddaughter of Chancellor Bismarck. The countess was part of a group of anti-Nazi intellectuals, most of whom were killed by the Gestapo or died in concentration camps. As we will discover, Gottfried and the countess play a significant roles in the story.

As the stakes and tensions mount, Lavi learns about Hitler's plan to exterminate the Jews. He must decide if he is going to continue to act diplomatically and deal with Eichmann or become part of a scheme planned by the Mossad station chief in Berlin, Shmulik Shoham to assassinate Hitler. You will have to read the book to learn what course of action Lavi's pursues.

In the Historical Note that appears at the end of the book, the authors affirm that they have adhered as closely as possible to real people real places and events. This is all the more supported with characters who may be fictional or non-fictional that speak with authentic voices bringing to life the horrendous events that came about as a result of Nazism. Moreover, they have honored the true purpose of history, which is to learn from past times so that the future might be better.

Although the novel at times mimics the framework of a haunting thriller and may be a trifle far-fetched, the authors are after something bigger here as they mention in the Historical Note that the underlying message of their book is to remind us that decisive actions in international affairs can make a difference, which is an important one today for a world that is engaged in dreadful conflicts with potential for even greater ones.

Follow Here To Read Norm's Review of Yehuda Avner's The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership