Monday, June 29, 2015

Fatherland, Robert Harris

Fatherland, Robert Harris

The body of a man is found in the Havel river close to Berlin, drowned in his bathsuit. Xavier March, Sturmbannführer in the Kripo, the German Kriminapolizei, is in charge of the case. It appears that that man was Josef Buhler, one of the founder of the Nazi party back in 1933. Herr Globocnik, Obergruppenführer in the Gestapo, is quite eager to close the case, especially with the 75th birthday of Adolf Hitler a few days later. But as other high rank NSDAP officers are found mysteriously suicided, March keeps digging. We are in April 1964, and the Reich dominates Europe from the actual Germany to the Caspian Sea.

This alternative history unveils itself by bits, from the transmission codes changed after having been broken by Alan Turing’s team to the V3 flying over New York after the Hiroshima destruction, and more importantly the guerilla in the Urals still active after twenty years, secretly supplied by the Americans. The totalitarism is complete, its power so pervasive that it has been interiorized to the point that many questions are not asked, even in private.
Drawn up on the runways of the Flughafen Hermann Göring, shimmering through the haze of fuel, was the new generation of passenger jets: the blue and white Boeings of Pan-American, the red, white and black swastika-decked Junkers of Lufthansa.
Berlin has two airports. The old Tempelhof aerodrome near the city centre handles short-haul, internal flights. International traffic passes through Hermann Göring in the north-western suburbs. The new terminal buildings are long, low edifices of marble and glass, designed — of course — by Speer. Outside the arrivals hall stands a statue of Hanna Reitsch, Germany’s leading aviatrix, made of melted-down Spitfires and Lancasters. She scans the sky for intruders. A sign behind her says WELCOME TO BERLIN, CAPITAL OF THE GREATER GERMAN REICH, in five languages.
A TV film has been produced by HBO in 1994, directed by Christopher Menaul, and starring Rutger Hauer as March and Miranda Richardson as Maguire.

Fatherland (edition Random House, 1992, 338 pages), written by (7 March 1957, Nottingham), English novelist.

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