The Hard Way Home by Jean Grainger (The Star and the Shamrock Book 3)
English | 2020 |General Fiction| ePUB | 6.6 MB
I have worked as a history lecturer at University, a teacher of English, History and Drama in secondary school, a playwright, and a tour guide of my beloved Ireland. I am married to the lovely Diarmuid and we have four children. We live in a 150 year old stone cottage in Mid-Cork with my family and the world’s smallest dog, a chi-chon called Scrappy-Do.
Liesl Bannon has never felt like she was truly at home anywhere, not since her mother placed her and her brother Erich on the last Kindertransport out of Berlin in 1939. She’d been so much more fortunate than most Jews, saved from the horrors of the Nazi regime. Being adopted by Elizabeth and Daniel Lieber meant she and Erich spent the war in Northern Ireland, safe and loved, but Liesl always knew something was missing.
When an opportunity to return to Berlin to represent her university presents itself, she is so torn. Should she go back to the city that rejected her and her family, would it be too harrowing, or would it feel like home?
In Berlin, a chance encounter with an old family friend sparked emotions for Liesl that she’d suppressed since she was a child. She finds herself desperately wanting to go back to those carefree days before Hitler, when life made sense, but why was her family so set against her return? Was it because they were worried about her as they claimed, or was there a darker, more sinister reason?
‘Why should a young man from Carlow or Kerry don a British uniform, the uniform that had struck fear and loathing into every seed, breed and generation of his family for centuries, and go to Europe to shoot Germans, who had never harmed a hair on their heads?’
She could see a few slight nods at the rhetorical questions – she was winning. The opposition had brought up that de Valera, the Irish Taoiseach, or prime minister, visited the German ambassador in Dublin in May of 1945 and expressed his condolences on Hitler’s death, but to that she had no answer. Nor could she bring herself to try to vindicate such an action, so she chose to ignore it.
‘When Winston Churchill accused us of “frolicking with the Germans and the Japanese”, it was with the knowledge that the Irish people had, in so many ways, assisted the Allied effort. This country fed Britain during those years, we gave radar and weather information, we returned Allied airmen and tried to repair and return their crashed aircraft – all facts, ladies and gentlemen, of which Mr Churchill was well aware.’
She took a sip of water.
‘We did what we could, and what we should have done in support of the cause of what was right. But allying ourselves to an enemy as tenacious and duplicitous as Great Britain proved herself to be was unconscionable. Historians are doomed, ladies and gentlemen, for they are trying to analyse the actions of those in the past, with the benefit of knowing what comes next. We know now what Hitler and his followers did. Of course we do. But we didn’t know then. Mr de Valera was dignified in his response to Churchill, who described so eloquently how Britain stood alone against an occupied European continent, when our Taoiseach asked, and I quote, “Could he not find in his heart the generosity to acknowledge that there is a small nation that stood alone not for one year or two, but for several hundred years against aggression; that endured spoliations, famines, massacres in endless succession; that was clubbed many times into insensibility, but that each time on returning consciousness took up the fight anew; a small nation that could never be got to accept defeat and has never surrendered her soul?”’