The Pendulum: A Granddaughter’s Search for Her Family’s Forbidden Nazi Past

Julie Lindahl. Rowman & Littlefield, $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-5381-1193-2
In this powerful and solemn memoir, Lindahl (Rose in the Sand), who was born in Brazil, recounts seeking the truth about her grandparents’ Nazi past, which her family hid from her. The secretiveness and inaccurate testimony of her only living source, her grandmother, hinders her progress, leading her to travel to Germany, Poland, and Latin America to search through documents and interview an array of people who interacted with her grandfather during his lifetime, including people who suffered under his hand as children, and relatives she thought were dead. She learns that her grandfather was in the SS; he was Special Führer for Landed Estates in East Prussia and Poland, and participated in the land grab in that region (i.e., forced resettlement of the local population, extermination of Jews, and colonization by Germans) of Poland. In prose that is formal, yet poetic and heartfelt (“While truth can be elusive, often staring at us from outside the rain-spattered window of our own perception, the failure to believe that it exists... is the seed of self-destruction”), Lindahl shares what she learned during seven years of research and travel. Many readers will be moved and find meaning in Lindahl’s journey to come to terms with her family’s past and process the guilt of inherited sins. (Oct.)

Correction: An earlier version of this review misstated that the book author's parents were German. The review also incorrectly stated the author's grandmother was a member of the SS.

Reviewed on: 12/17/2018
Release date: 10/01/2018
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