A Novel by David Wessel

Choosing Sides

Choosing Sides is the story of a family caught in the maelstrom of Nazi Germany and the difficult choice each family member must make:

  • to endorse the Party and work toward building a glorious Third Reich,
  • to stay quiet in the hope that Herr Hitler would soon be gone
  • to resist, even at the risk of imprisonment or death, or
  • to leave their beloved Fatherland behind.

It is a story of identity and place, personal belief and ethics, complacency and resolve.

This work of historical fiction tells the tale of a young man who grows up on both sides of the Atlantic just before World War II – and faces a painful choice when his two worlds collide. Having been born in Germany, but moved to America at age four, Karl-Heinz returns seven years later to a changed Deutschland. He meets der Führer personally and becomes active in the Hitler YouthHe idolizes Uncle Ernst, a rising Nazi official. His cousin Peter and his childhood sweetheart Annelies are both Party devotees. But Karl-Heinz also loves the peaceful life he experienced in America. His parents, Diech and Mimi, make their choice – and when he turns eighteen “Heinzie” must make his own.

Every day at school in the U.S. he had recited his “allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands.” Upon joining the Hitlerjugend, he had vowed: “In the presence of this blood banner, which represents our Führer, I swear to devote all my energies and my strength to the savior of our country, Adolf Hitler.” He now had to decide which pledge to stand by – and which to foreswear.

Which land is his home? Which country’s values does he share? Which side will he fight for?



Learn about the author’s very personal connection to this story, along with his interests and background.



Brief reviews on some of the author’s favorite books on Germany during and between the two World Wars (and other related matters).

Interested in a free sample? We are pleased to provide readers with the prologue from Choosing Sides, for personal use only.


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