Called "poetic and heartfelt" and "powerful" by a Publisher’s Weekly starred review, read about Julie Lindahl's journey to uncover the truth about her grandfather’s history as a member of Hitler's SS elite.
This gripping memoir traces Brazilian-born American Julie Lindahl’s journey to uncover her grandparents’ roles in the Third Reich as she is driven to understand how and why they became members of Hitler’s elite, the SS. Out of the unbearable heart of the story—the unclaimed guilt that devours a family through the generations—emerges an unflinching will to learn the truth. In a remarkable six-year journey through Germany, Poland, Paraguay, and Brazil, Julie uncovers, among many other discoveries, that her grandfather had been a fanatic member of the SS since 1934. During World War II, he was responsible for enslavement and torture and was complicit in the murder of the local population on the large estates he oversaw in occupied Poland. He eventually fled to South America to evade a new wave of war-crimes trials. The pendulum used by Julie’s grandmother to divine good from bad and true from false becomes a symbol for the elusiveness of truth and morality, but also for the false securities we cling to when we become unmoored. As Julie delves deeper into the abyss of her family’s secret, discovering history anew, one precarious step at a time, the compassion of strangers is a growing force that transforms her world and the way that she sees her family—and herself.
Julie Lindahl is an author, activist, and educator living in Sweden. She is a contributor to WBUR Cognoscenti and has been featured on National Public Radio. Julie holds a BA from Wellesley College, an MPhil in international relations from Oxford University, and was a Fulbright Scholar in Frankfurt. She is the founder of Stories for Society, a nonprofit organization for renewing the art of story-making among youth for social transformation. WBUR 90.9 won the 2018 Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in innovation and the 2018 Associated Press Media Editor’s Award for innovation in storytelling based on a program series featuring her story.
Part I: “Quiet Is Best”
Chapter 1: Sweden, 2015
Chapter 2: West Germany, 1989
Chapter 3: The United Kingdom, 1990
Chapter 4: Germany, 1997
Chapter 5: Germany, 2010
Chapter 6: Germany, 2012
Chapter 7: Germany, 2012
Chapter 8: Poland, 2012
Chapter 9: Germany, 2013
Chapter 10: Germany, 2013
Chapter 11: Poland, 2013
Chapter 12: Auschwitz, 2013
Chapter 13: Bosnia Herzegovina, 2014
Part II: The Red Dust
Chapter 14: Sweden, June 2015
Chapter 15: Latin America, February 2016
Chapter 16: Asuncion, February 2016
Chapter 17: Asuncion, February 2016
Chapter 18: Asuncion, March 2016
Chapter 19: Asuncion, March 2016
Chapter 20: Sao Paulo, March 2016
Chapter 21: Campo Grande, March 2016
Chapter 22: Campo Grande, March 2016
Chapter 23: Maracaju, March 2016
Chapter 24: Maracaju, March 2016
Chapter 25: Brasilia, March 2016
Chapter 26: Stockholm, May 2017
About the Author
An intimate investigation into family truth and lies, shame and grief, anger and indignation. Unfolding like a mystery novel with the very highest stakes, it not only looks with honesty and wisdom at the past but purposefully asks what we're going to make of it for the future. The brilliance and novelty of Lindahl's courageous journey lies in situating her own family history within our collective experience and common pain, thereby reawakening our shared duty to break the silence and go make things better.
As we travel with Julie Lindahl, we gain a deeper capacity for justice, compassion and commitment to confront today’s unthinkable evils. Her investigation and the publication of her excruciating family history have come at a high personal cost—but also with the joy of discovering long-lost relatives and building a global family of survivors and readers. We all are now deeply indebted to her.
6/1/22, The Memory Generation Podcast: Julie Lindahl spoke with Rachael Cerrotti in this episode created in partnership with the USC Shoah Foundation.
8/1/20: The BBC World Service's "Outlook" featured the book; “Discovering my grandfather's secret Nazi past.”
9/17/20: Snap Judgement interviewed author on podcast “Shame.”
10/12/21: The World From My Window (Podcast): The author was interviewed about the book.
7/11/22, TEDx Talk: Julie Lindal gave a talk about "Who has the right to history?"