The Inter­preter

By – November 2, 2020

Kurt Berlin is a young Amer­i­can sol­dier serv­ing in the Philip­pines dur­ing World War II. A refugee from Nazi-occu­pied Aus­tria, he is flu­ent in Ger­man. When the OSS recruits him to work as an inter­preter for Amer­i­cans inter­ro­gat­ing Nazi war crim­i­nals, he reluc­tant­ly accepts and goes to Brus­sels. In the course of his assign­ment, Kurt dis­cov­ers that the SS offi­cer being inter­ro­gat­ed is respon­si­ble for the ter­ror and mis­ery that his fam­i­ly suf­fered dur­ing their escape. He also real­izes that the man may have infor­ma­tion about a young girl that he loved and left behind. His desire for infor­ma­tion and the dis­cov­ery that the Amer­i­cans inter­view­ing the Nazis may be inter­est­ed in more than war crimes offer a moral dilemma.

Based on sto­ries from the author’s fam­i­ly, this excit­ing and per­son­al nov­el gives read­ers a glimpse into the lives of Jew­ish fam­i­lies forced to aban­don their hap­py, com­fort­able lives when the Nazis came to pow­er. Kurt’s par­ents sent him to Brus­sels on a Kinder­trans­port, and return­ing to that city brings back mem­o­ries of his expe­ri­ences. When he is not inter­view­ing war crim­i­nals, he tries to find friends and rel­a­tives who may have sur­vived the war. His efforts will have read­ers turn­ing pages, eager to find out where his search will take him. His­tor­i­cal fic­tion fans and those inter­est­ed in World War II and sur­vivor sto­ries will enjoy this. Book clubs will also find much to dis­cuss, giv­en the moral and eth­i­cal ques­tions raised. The Inter­preter is high­ly rec­om­mend­ed for pub­lic and syn­a­gogue libraries as well as per­son­al collections.

Bar­bara M. Bibel is a librar­i­an at the Oak­land Pub­lic Library in Oak­land, CA; and at Con­gre­ga­tion Netiv­ot Shalom, Berke­ley, CA.