Prinz David’s Castle by Daniel Richard Smith – Book Review

Prinz David’s Castle by Daniel Richard Smith – Book Review

Prinz davids' Castle by Daniel Smith

Prinz David’s Castle

Author – Daniel Richard Smith
Publisher – FriesenPress
Pages – 462
Released – 11th December 2018
ISBN-13 – 978-1525540189
Format – ebook, paperback, hardcover, audio
Review by – Clive
Rating – 5 Stars
I received a free copy of this book.
This post contains affiliate links.
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Germany, 1939.

While Europe braces for the inevitable advancement of the Nazi war machine, Hitler turns his hate-filled agenda on his own people, specifically the portion of the German population least able to defend itself—the mentally and physically disabled.

Aktion T4 is enacted to disinfect mainstream Germany of this undesirable portion of its population by creating killing centres both in Germany and the surrounding annexed countries, most notably, at Hartheim Castle in Alkoven, Austria. Here the Nazis, headed by Karl Brandt and Phillip Bouhler, perfect their art of mass murder, using fake shower rooms as gas chambers nearly two full years before they are ever used in a death camp.

Felix Schmidt is a Jewish former medical doctor who was stripped of his station and rights by the Nuremberg Race Laws of 1935. Since that time, Felix and his wife, Claudia, have struggled to raise their family amid the growing popularity of Aryan supremacy, a challenge further complicated by their realization that their youngest son, David, has cerebral palsy.

Now, Felix must not only deal with the brutal racism that is inflicted upon him, but he must also hide David from view, lest he be swallowed up by the Aktion T4 machinery.

When an unthinkable betrayal finds Felix alone and desperate, he must race against time to find, and save, David from the inevitable end that has claimed so many abandoned souls.

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By now most, if not all of us, are aware that around six million Jews were exterminated by the Nazis during World War Two but lesser known is how they developed their evil crafts by firstly sterilising then removing and killing tens of thousands of their fellow Germans who were considered inadequate through physical or mental disability. In Prinz David’s Castle Daniel Richard Smith has used actual events and fiction to describe Aktion T4 in a way that shook my emotions whilst keeping me engaged.

Smith tells his story in an intriguing manner with the action moving back and forth between 1939/40, 1945, 1976/9 and 2015. Indeed, after the synopsis prepared me for a hard hitting novel I was surprised that the first chapter, all 23 pages of it, consisted of a fairy tale given by a stranger to a young boy waiting for his mother outside a shipping office. Of course, this is relevant but I had to read most of the book for a full explanation. Once you reach chapter two, the real action commences and you will be carried forward.

The author and his wife raised two disabled sons and probably as a result of this he has written with real passion for his subject. I believe that Prinz David’s Castle is his first novel and he has taken the opportunity to pack it full with stories of courage, determination, acceptance and sheer evil. My emotions were pulled in all directions. He writes in an easy style and the changes of setting keep you hooked. There are a number of co-incidental events which helps to gel the various plots.

Most of the book’s locations are real and Smith’s descriptions of life at the relevant times appear authentic. His characters include four real persons: Karl Brandt, Phillip Bouhler, Rudolf Lonauer and Georg Renno. All the characters, real and fictional, have depth and he uses them to show how personal choices at the time were affected by pressures from all sides. Horrendous as the programme was, failure to comply with instructions was extremely brave and generally very costly.

On the positive side, Smith also uses the story to demonstrate how the lessons of history can be used for good purposes and the book ends on a good note with a few unexpected twists. For me Prinz David’s Castle is the best book I have read so far this year and I urge everyone to read it. I have awarded five stars.

Book Reviewer – Clive

Purchase online from: BooksBlackwells

About the Author

Daniel Richard Smith lives in Edmonton, with his wife, Susan. He raised two disabled sons: Matthew, who developed cerebral palsy at six months old, and subsequently passed away at the age of ten due to heart failure, and David, who experienced a global delay at birth. David is currently 27 years old and lives in a group home not far from Daniel and Susan. David has never walked or talked, is reliant upon others for his daily existence, and is the happiest, most loving and courageous person Daniel has ever known.

Daniel has always had an interest in World War II. After learning what had gone on in Germany in the late 1930s and throughout World War II, Daniel remembers thinking, What if my disabled sons had been in that place, at that time? What would have become of them? Prinz David’s Castle was born from that thought. Daniel sees parallels drawn between what happened before and during World War II in Germany, and the social and political atmosphere that exists in today’s world. If it happened before, it can happen again. He believes that today’s divisive and toxic landscape is shaded in examples from the past, and hopes that his writing will help readers draw those comparisons….

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6 Responses

  1. This sounds like a book I would enjoy and 5 stars too. Added to my TBR.

  2. Lixa says:

    Thisnsounds like something inwould love to read.

  3. DJ Sakata says:

    There is nothing I am aware of in this world as vile as the Nazi penchant for unspeakable cruelty.

  4. Gayathri says:

    Oh I love WW 2 fiction. I am gonna grab a copy soon.

  5. vidya says:

    I know I will have to read this to my TBR..

  6. Robin Loves Reading says:

    I read quite a few of this type of book