The horror that rages inside anyone who survived Hitler’s declaration against humanity, particularly those of Jewish descent, erupts with three small words—the title of Simon Tolkien’s latest book—Orders from Berlin. It was here in this formerly innocuous city where the indisputable master of deceit, suffering, pain, torture, and death ordered his Wehrmacht forward. It would turn Poland, France, the Netherlands, Italy, and maybe even Russia into notorious concentrations of humans bidding his will. Yes, this was Berlin—Hitler’s city—in a time that too would live in infamy.
But thankfully for mankind, in 1940 and subsequent years, this master of sedition made a delirious mistake involving England, to Germany’s immediate north, and Russia, to Germany farther east. Increasingly maddened Hitler concluded that there was no logical reason to cross the English Channel and attack the United Kingdom when he had the spoils of so many conquered nations already at his fingertips. According to Orders from Berlin, what Hitler wanted most was to engage Russia, ASAP, to control its people and resources.
In Orders from Berlin, Hitler and his consorts in atrocity decided that rather than invade England, the most effective subjugation would be: bomb the country to its knees and ultimate surrender. A crucial factor in this plot: kill Winston Churchill—the defiant conscience of England who declared repeatedly that surrender could never happen.
The plot of Orders from Berlin thickens into an intricate local London police murder episode when the former head of English Intelligence is shoved over a railing to his death. He falls several stories from his inside apartment door. His horribly broken, lifeless body thuds to the feet of his loving daughter entering the building far below. In her absolute grief, she offers any support or information to the local police who seek her father’s killer.
The story grabs at your sense of morality as you and this grief stricken daughter realize that what police are slowly unraveling is not mere murder. It was a kill to silence the only remaining man who had leads to the mole and his Nazi accomplices about to murder Churchhill. Now, the reader and she are equally at risk in what information you are privy to. Are new found friends really spies? Allies? Whom can you trust? Are you also expendable?
Early on, the characters in Orders from Berlin quickly develop, including the nefarious Hitler who thinks only of himself and world conquest for his Third Reich. So often we’ve seen film clips of him delivering impassioned ranting pleas to the German people about how great a nation they will become under his dictatorship.
But author Tolkien’s thoughtful dialogue also makes Hitler sound illogically more evil—if that is even possible. “That fool Churchill will not give in … he wants this war … you can’t reason with a man like that.”
I would highly recommend this unique spy story to readers seeking fast paced intrigue, with which you will experience the helplessness about whom to trust or who is your enemy. Author Simon Tolkien has a keen knack for disclosing enough bits of information at just the right time to make you feel—first one way, and then the other—about trust and fidelity. Orders from Berlin is a relatively quick read, but not one easily forgotten.