Book review My father had this Luger
My father had this Luger is captivating, with a cinematic feel, and moments that are truly haunting and memorable
My father had this Luger is a new book that sheds light on the importance Greece played during WWII, a subject matter that has been overlooked historically. It tells the story of the six-year-old Evangelos Louizos - the voice of the novel - who finds himself caught up in the German occupation of Greece.
The book educates the reader, but also engages them, taking them back in time, opening an unseen window into our nation's past.
"Initially it wasn't meant to be a book at all," says the author.
"The scenes were planned a few decades back as a personal catharsis because I wanted to leave my memories as a legacy to my children. I started writing down a few notes; the paragraphs became pages and the pages chapters," Evangelos Louizos explained to Neos Kosmos.
A year ago - after Mr Loizos published his autobiography in Greece - he was approached by the editors of The Zeus Project as they were especially impressed by his work and thought it would be a great idea to use in their campaign.
The Sword of Zeus Project is a multimedia history-as-literature program, dedicated to Greece's role in WWII, concerning the cultural and historical factors surrounding that role.
The story centres around the author's father who came into possession of a Luger (a German semi-automatic pistol) from a German pilot. Later, he has to hand it over to the Germans when Athens is occupied by the Axis forces.
Louizos said to Neos Kosmos he has been blessed with a great memory and he can recall intricate incidents that happened 75 years ago, even insignificant ones, like a name or what his mother gave him to drink when he was a child.
"Most people are unaware that the Greeks fought alone against the Axis powers.
"In October of 1940, most of Europe was defeated, but it was the Greeks who fought and defeated the enemy. Greece not only gave the world's first victory against the Axis powers, but also managed to delay Hitler's plans for one month. Greece gave hope to people around Europe.
They realised that if little Greece could do it, so could they," said Louizos.
Born in Kallithea in 1933. Louizo joined the navy and then moved to the US where he later down the track received an American citizenship and studied social sciences, history, Spanish and linguistics.
In 1980 he moved to England, where he founded and headed the Department of English as a Second Language at the American Community School in Cobham for 18 years.
When I asked him what troubled him most about making this book; he answered that it was mostly the editing.
"We had to be selective with the material as the amount of writing was beyond the limits of publishing. What I wrote was a synopsis, a 'thimble' of the experiences I had witnessed. We tried to condense it as much as possible".
What is truly noteworthy about this book is the fact that it remains neutral towards the Germans soldiers who took control of Greece.
"When you get older, you stand back and see these events from a very different perspective. They are human beings caught in a warzone, some of them unwillingly. With age, you start to realise the humanity. We are all human beings."
There is a very haunting scene in the novel where little Evangelos disobeys the curfew and turns the lights on for a few seconds during the night. The German soldiers mistake this as the signal of some rebel organisation and hurry into the house carrying guns. A scared Evangelos remains under the sheets shaking with fear, when the German soldiers entered the room.
One German soldier lifts the sheet and points his gun towards little Evangelos's head. A few seconds later - after the German soldier realises that the cause of the trouble is just a small child - he simply puts the sheet back on top of him the way that he had found him; he switches off the lights and leaves the room. The only thing that little Evangelos can hear is the sound of the man's big German boots, each step slowly fading away.
Louizos realized later on that the German soldier might have been just as frightened as he was, and may not have known what was hiding underneath the sheet. As far as he may have known, it might have been a gun aimed towards him. War can create monsters out of us all.
This engrossing work, My father had this Luger is described by one very acute witness. Certain passages are thought provoking while some are downright bone chilling, yet all unforgettable. The engaging, youthful spirit of Evangelos Louizos is seen throughout his writing, keeping readers captivated by his every word. He is a remarkable writer with the natural talent of story-telling.
"He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster," wrote the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in his book Beyond Good and Evil, and with this said, it fits the theme of the book perfectly.
For more details about the Zeus Project you can www.theswordofzeus.info You can also order your copy of 'My Father had this Luger' from Amazon's website on: www.amazon.com by entering the title of the book into the search engine on the site.
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