What if Hitler had a love child? A.N. Wilson's "Winnie and Wolf" is a chilling fictional tale of a clandestine affair.





For sheer number of innocent people exterminated under an infamous regime, Hitler is no match for Stalin. Yet our fascination with the fiery, scary Führer as "the incarnation of absolute evil," as Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel once called him, far surpasses our interest in practically all other hateful villains in modern history. In his highly imaginative novel "Winnie and Wolf," prolific British novelist and historian A.N. Wilson has taken an intriguingly dispassionate look at Hitler's inner circle. The novel, which came out in the U.K. last year, was nominated for the Man Booker Prize. Despite this high level of acclaim, readers may wonder why Wilson would bother taking a sober, realistic look at Hitler and thereby risk humanizing him. But among Wilson's 35 books is a biography of Jesus that is mostly about the impossibility of writing a biography of Jesus; Wilson is not one to back down from a challenge.

Hitler's legacy is so repugnant that even his surviving relatives fiercely guard their privacy and have mostly changed their surname, despite any profit they might make from sales of their famous relative's prison memoir "Mein Kampf" or hawking artifacts connected to the Third Reich. For a rational member of society to speak well of the tyrant in public is to create an outrage. One person who famously did so toward the end of her life was Winifred Wagner, wife of Richard Wagner's son Siegfried, who had a very close friendship with Hitler, or, as her family referred to him, "Uncle Wolf." Winifred Wagner claimed to despise Hitler's politics and treatment of the Jews, and saved the lives of various prominent Jewish people through her sway over the chancellor, but she defended her personal relationship with Hitler until as late as 1975, in a controversial five-hour interview she gave to German film director Hans-Jürgen Syberberg.


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