Maria Hummel's grandparents lived in Nazi Germany, trying to quietly go about their lives while Hitler came to power. Letters discovered in an attic wall fifty years later gave Hummel the inspiration for this story, as she begins to explore what it meant to her grandparents and father to be a witness to the persecution of Jews and not do anything to help.
Liesl and Frank Kappus married just two months after Frank's first wife, Susi, died during the birth of their third son. Now with three children, Liesl is busy with running a household while Frank, a surgeon, has been called up to serve in the German army, performing reconstructive surgeries on wounded soldiers.
All around Europe war is raging and Liels feels it growing closer to her and her family. She does her best to continue to provide food and clothing even as supplies dwindle, while Frank focuses on his career and finding ways to advance professionally.
The Kappus' are just one example of a German family who went about life as best they could during World War II. While Hummel does not reveal if Liesl and Frank understood the atrocities being committed against Jews and other minority groups, she does briefly explore what happened to those suffering mental illness.
My own grandparents lived their entire lives in the United States, but I have always been curious about their knowledge of this time period. Hummel's novel is one that will stick with me for years. Motherland is a must read.