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The Zoo Keeper's War

by Steven Conte

I could almost feel the ground vibrate as the bombs fell and wreaked their destruction on Berlin and its zoo. The powerful story line captures the claustrophobia of living in communal air raid shelters with both friends and informants whilst unfolding the struggle of Axel and his Australian wife Vera as they battle to save their zoo and those close to them.

Extract

With a little prompting, Erna was willing to talk about her work at the factory, which she said made uniforms for the military, but when Vera explained where she was from, Erna looked baffled. 'What language do you speak?'

The reply fell into a gap between the blasts, and in unison the card players all turned and stared. Vera tried a smile, then more explosions saved her from speaking.

Erna looked alarmed and even glanced over her shoulder. 'Are you meant to be here?'

Vera explained that she was German, but Erna seemed wary. She was sleepy she said. There was work the next day.

Vera returned to Axel's side, mulling over the seamstress's final question. She had no idea of the answer. She looked at the card players and was just in time to see Frau Ritter turning sharply away.

Parallels

The Reader by Bernard Schlink
 

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