Speak out for the fate of millions or turn a blind eye? We all have choices.
Germany, 1944. Ernst Beck's new job marks an end to months of unemployment. Working for Erfurt's most prestigious engineering firm, Topf & Sons, means he can finally make a contribution to the war effort, provide for his beautiful wife, Etta, and make his parents proud. But there is a price.
Ernst is assigned to the firm's smallest team - the Special Ovens Department. Reporting directly to Berlin, his role is to annotate plans for new crematoria that are deliberately designed to burn day and night. Their destination: the concentration camps. Topf's new client: the SS.
As the true nature of his work dawns on him, Ernst has a terrible choice to make: turning a blind eye will keep him and Etta safe, but that's little comfort if staying silent amounts to collusion in the death of thousands.
This bold and uncompromising work of literary fiction shines a light on the complex contradictions of human nature and examines how deeply complicit we can become in the face of fear.
"Absolutely exceptional. So beautifully written, with precision and wisdom and real emotional acuity. The horrors are illuminated and rendered on a human scale by Lautner's wonderfully gripping narrative, drawing me in to the intimate story of Ernst and Etta, and their very affecting portrayal as individuals caught up in larger events. With outrage and tenderness he describes a moment in time most of us would say we knew too much about already - and sheds new light on it. A remarkable achievement." (Stephen Kelman, author of Pigeon English)
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