From the Ashes by Sandra Saidak
In a dramatic departure from her popular prehistoric fiction, Sandra Saidak now offers up her first alternate history novel.
Two generations after Germany won World War II, a lonely college student named Adolf Goebbels wanders into a dusty museum and discovers books and artifacts of a dead race called “Jews”. Although a member of the Nazi elite, Adolf resents the oppression, fear, and isolation that are part of daily life in the Aryan “paradise” his grandparents helped build.
As he reads the forgotten books, and meets the outcasts who gather at the museum, Adolf discovers a purpose he has long been searching for—and danger he has never imagined.
Based on real-life Nazi plans for museums of dead races, this sprawling alternate history novel takes the reader from decadent Berlin, the capital of the Nazi world empire, across the conquered nations of Europe to uncover the startling secrets at the heart of the worldwide Reich.
Fans of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle and Robert Harris’ Fatherland will want to read this new voice in alternate history.
The journey to this book began more than thirty years ago, when I watched a documentary on Simon Weisenthal which included a description of Himmler’s plan to create museums of dead races. I immediately saw the possibilities for an alternate history story (at the time I naively believed it would be a short story!)
Soon after that, in another documentary, I learned that Joseph and Magda Goebbels poisoned their six daughters before killing themselves on the day Hitler died. I knew at once that my protagonist had to be the grandson of Joseph Goebbels: propagandist, fanatic, the kind of man who could murder his own children rather than let them live in a world without Hitler. (Admittedly later, when I learned more about the atrocities committed by Russian soldiers against German civilians, I began to see the Goebbels’ actions differently. When my mother compared their actions to Masada, my perception did a complete turnabout.)
My first problem, however, was how to keep Adolf’s last name Goebbels, after the documentary had clearly stated that all six children were girls. After agonizing with me for some time, my husband suddenly shouted: “If Joseph and Magda didn’t die, they could have had more children!” Yes! Perfect! After all, the youngest was only four when she died in 1945. So I invented Wilhelm Goebbels, who became Adolf’s father.
Then, after twelve years, several rewrites, and the invention of the internet, I learned that Goebbels actually had five daughters and one son. (A member of my writing group thoughtfully sent me several web articles and a whole batch of pictures.)
After uttering a few words which will not be printed here, I sat down to begin the next rewrite. It wasn’t that big a deal, I told myself. Just hit Ctrl F and Ctrl H: Find Wilhelm; replace with Helmut. Except it was a big deal. Bringing a nine-year-old boy back from the dead so I could turn him into a convenient villain became a very big deal to me. Maybe that child would have grown into the tyrant he is in this novel. But we’ll never know, because he never got the chance to grow into an adult of any kind. In an effort to show respect for this little boy, and his sisters who do not appear in this book, I learned all I could of the real Helmut Goebbels, and incorporated all five sentences into this novel. So little, and yet it speaks volumes.
Also included are stories people have told me over the years. Within the pages of this fantasy of what might have been, I have incorporated all the reality I could, even the most obscure bits. And if you are one of the people who told me one of those stories, my short “Acknowledgement” section is not nearly enough to express my thanks.