Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The End of Law By Thérèse Down

Two SS officers—both involved in Hitler's Final Solution, both in love with a beautiful woman— but only one can live with his conscience 

The End of LawThérèse Down delivers a powerful story set in Berlin in the 1930s and early 1940s and woven around the fortunes of three people: an ambitious SS officer, Walter Gunter; his naíve wife, Hedda; and a guilt-ridden SS officer, Karl Muller.
Gunter— intensely loyal to the Third Reich, entirely ruthless, with dreams of military renown—is outraged to be placed in charge of the T4 euthanasia program.
Muller, an engineer and trainee doctor, reluctantly oversees the safe delivery of lethal gases and drugs to the killing centers, and is required to convert shower rooms and bathrooms into gas chambers in commandeered hospitals and prisons. Both detest their jobs.
Meanwhile Hedda is treated with increasing brutality by her sadistic and permanently enraged husband. Desperate to protect her two young children, she faces agonizing choices of her own.
A magnificent and meticulously researched novel based on real people and events, The End of Law focuses on the difficult moral choices made by soldiers and civilians under a corrupt regime, and on the disruptive power of an awakened conscience.

About the Author:
Therese Down is currently working as the Head of English at a High School in England and has been teaching English Literature and Language for over twenty years in a range of schools and colleges. She holds a MA in Employment Law and is experienced in personnel management.

My Take:
Being a history buff, I was really interested in this book the first time I saw it. Especially since it revolves around the WWII era, Hitler, Germany and the happenings there. I found it especially intriguing. It begins a bit before the war is in full swing with Hedda, a very worldly inexperienced young woman. She marries well, mostly for wealth and position. But soon her life takes a dreadful turn as the war becomes more progressed and her husband more involved with Hitlers regime and his horrible tactics.

Her husband Gunter becomes actively involved and even in charge to an extent of the euthanasia program. He quickly becomes calloused and the killings of children, elderly, disabled and many others are excused in his mind for the betterment of Germany. Will his daughters accident be enough to change his heart and mind? Or will he continue to be faithful to his country above his family no matter what the cost?

Meanwhile, a long time past friend of Hedda's, Karl Muller, also involved in the program, although much more reluctantly, surfaces in their circles. This character is based on a real life character from that time period. The guilt he feels becomes overwhelming and he finally has to make a choice. The fact that his wife suffers from the mental illness depression and is quite susceptible to the regime's inhumane methods really bothers Karl. 

The author will keep you on the edge or your seat as you get into the story. She will keep you wondering and guessing who will be true to Hiltler, and who will be willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice. I enjoyed reading this book with exception of a couple things. One was the use of some strong language, I would have preferred not to have in the books I read. The other was the chapters were extremely long. The book consists of only fourteen chapters but they can be thirty plus pages long.  I suppose I would recommend this book but with the warning of caution. There is quite a bit of graphic descriptive scenes of those who suffered under Hitler's regime, as well as several swear words. 

A copy of this book was provided to me by Kregel publications in exchange for my honest opinion. 


  1. I can't imagine how dreadful it must have been for the spouses of the SS. Especially the SS tasked with killing the Jews.

    What a great interview. Thank you

    1. Great point Kathy. I can't imagine that either. Most of them had no idea what kinds of things their spouses were involved in.


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