WWII Fiction — Review of Steven Donahue’s Solahütte


If you like WWII fiction set in the German-occupied areas or Holocaust concentration camp-Resistance fiction, Solahütte is one to read. It came out before Heather Morris’ debut release The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Both books are similiar though Morris’ book is a cross between true crime and historical fiction while Solahütte appears to be strictly fictional. Both novels are well-written and have uplifting moments throughout and end with hope, and love, in the future for the persecuted.

Steven Donahue can write. Why Solahütte shows with low readership this reviewer does not know. I encourage all that read in this area to read Solahütte. The one review that is posted on Goodreads and Amazon commented on the lack of emotional depth of Blaz (and other characters). Having read many accounts, both fictional and non-fictional, Donahue did an amazing job. This reviewer did not find the emotional depth of Blaz, the main character, a German solider (not part of the SS) who is sent to Auschwitz for of all things, recuperation, after he had been shot on the Russian front while trying to save his men, lacking. Instead it was realistic under the circumstances. It was a period of time when survival depended on staying under the Nazi radar. The narrative in The Tattooist of Auschwitz incorporates this same lack of emotional depth. It borders on coldness, aloofness. Both Blaz and Lale Sokolov resemble undercover officers. They hide in plain sight though at times their revulsion for their “supposed” tasks and those who they work with or for cannot be hidden and comes out.

In terms of the narrative, there were a few odd choice of words and when Donahue switches from “Blaz did…” to “The officer …” it first threw this reviewer because it seemed that the author was referring to another officer, not Blaz. Other than that, the writing is crisp, the plot did not stall, there were no unnecessary parts, and the narrative flowed seamlessly unlike in The Tattooist of Auschwitz, which had an (understandable) disjointed feel that was confusing at times. This reviewer would have liked to have included more details on the layout of Auschwitz itself and on the Resistance, even if meant moving the story off Blaz’s perspective, which would have been necessary, as Blaz was the typical German solider in the old Prussian makeup and outlook, rather than part of the fanatical Nazi SS jack boot troops. The Blazs fought one war with honor and attention to duty while the other (the Grazfirmers) fought an entirely different war, acting with dishonor, destroying people like they were animals.  In the end, the conflict between the the Prussian troops and the SS helped the Allies’ cause. I liked the the twist at the end about one of the German guards, Kroller. I did not see it coming.

I was provided a copy by the author in exchange for an honest review.