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The German Mother

Published on 31st July 2023

Minki Sommer appears to have everything - a glamorous career in journalism, a close friendship with rising political star Joseph Goebbels and a handsome, rich husband who is close to the seat of power. But when her daughter is born with an illness, she is forced to confront the Nazi Party's evil policies about eugenics. 

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Inspiration for the novel

I was inspired to write this novel several years ago when I read about a German Jewish journalist named Jella Lepmann. As the women's editor of a national newspaper, she was forced to flee Germany in the mid-1930s with her two young children to seek refuge in London. During the war years she worked as an announcer in the newly created BBC German Service. After the war she returned to her homeland, to assist the American authorities with the process of de-Nazification. She was the inspiration for my character Leila Hoffman.

I wanted to contrast Leila with a woman who might not be so straightforward, nor sympathetic. After researching a number of 'right-wing' journalists of the period, I created Minki Sommer - a smart, beautiful blonde, who believed she was above politics, and worked for a right of centre paper in Berlin. Ultimately, however, personal circumstances force her to choose between right and wrong. What happens to her child in this story was a tragedy that befell literally thousands of ordinary families in Germany whose children suffered from minor disabilities.  

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