The reason for which the Saturday Evening Post was “verboten” in Hitler’s Germany has just come out in book form. It is a novel by I. A. R. Wylie bearing the title of “To the Vanquished” and is published by Doubleday, Doran.
In the baldest of outlines “To the Vanquished” is the story of divided loyalties among Hitler’s storm troopers, of soldiers of the swastika whose hearts and whose minds question the brutalities, horrors and injustices which they are forced to commit for that metaphysical entity known as Germany.
The scene is a frontier town in Germany, just before, and after, the call of Hitler to the Chancellorship. Essentially a love story in a social setting, the chief protagonists are Franzl, the daughter of the liberal pacifist, Dr. Roth, and Wolf von Selteneck, a starved lad and head of a gang of starvlings who becomes lieutenant, or sub-leader, of the town’s storm troops.
The story starts with Wolf breaking into the home of the Roths ready to murder for a bit of food and being vanquished by the calm and affectionate understanding in the eyes of Franzl. Then Wolf, by an act of “heroism” in a raid on a pacifist meeting, makes himself a member of the newly quartered troops, and from then on Franzl and Wolf recognize, fight against and finally submit to the love which calls to each across the artificial line of cleavage which Hitlerism has set up.
Although this is the essential story in “To the Vanquished,” it is given in settings which make the book a social-historical document of a minor character. The raid on the pacifist meeting, the raid on the hospital, the raid on the home of the Roths, the parade of the troopers’ victims through the streets, among them the Franzl whose spotless integrity even the troopers have to recognize, and then the final scenes in the concentration camp where a typhoid epidemic lays low prisoners and captors until the final logical, but unexpected, denouement, are among the elements of social data in this book.
The value of the story is in the pleasant fusion Miss Wylie has made of fiction and journalism. Persons who could not be persuaded to read such a work as “The Brown Book of the Hitler Terror” will read a love story in which the social data, although an integral part of the book, does not outweigh the fictional elements. And despite the suppression of the magazine in which the book ran serially, I believe it can be said that Miss Wylie keeps the scales even, giving reasonable motivations to the storm troopers, trying to see in their own terms their justification for doing the things they do. It just can’t be helped if those things outrage a stranger’s sense of justice when she puts them into story form.