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Who knew that the Nazis were fierce ecologists with a commitment to protecting nature from what they considered to be inferior non-German vegetation?
Who knew that "Blood and Soil," the rallying cry of the white supremacists at the 2017 "Unite the Right" monster rally in Charlottesville, Virginia,
Who knew that in the Third Reich pure-blooded Germans were believed to be rooted in the land and the soil while Jews, on the other hand, were said to be rootless city-dwellers, human weeds that needed to be pulled from society as relentlessly as vegetative weeds needed to be pulled from a garden?
Who knew that German plants were seen as the superior species over all flora, and therefore not only did all non-native plants need to be eradicated from the landscape of Germany, but that once Hitler's armies had conquered Europe, all non-German plant types in the Third Reich would be ripped out and replaced with "German" plants, and a master race of Germanized plants would be in ascendance alongside a master race of Germanized people?
Who knew that Hitler was drafting plants into his army?
Much as is known about the preposterous notions promoted by Adolph Hitler and embraced by his followers, who knew that this irrational mindset included the Nazification of plants, as well?
With all we know about Hitler's Nazi Germany, who actually knew any of that?
I didn't. I didn't know any of the above until I read "Crosswind (The World War II Adventures of M16 Agent Katrin Nissen Book 1),"
When a key German operative working for the Allies suddenly disappears, Dr. Nissen is dispatched to Berlin to find him under the guise of attending an academic conference on Plant Sociology, a Nazi construct to the effect that in nature plants form communities among their own kind and seek to weed out foreign or undesirable plants and that, following the dictates of nature, society likewise has an imperative to eliminate foreign or undesirable human beings. Under the banner of "Blood and Soil" the botanists at the University of Berlin are required to present this doctrine as science, just as all German scientists are now required to bend their findings so that they fall in line with Hitler’s ideology.
A mysterious string of seemingly accidental deaths among the University botanists, inexplicably missing and misplaced research materials, and the ubiquitous presence of the Gestapo everywhere from the city streets to the halls of academia, create an atmosphere of fear and danger which Katrin Nissen must carefully and surreptitiously negotiate in her search for an agent who seems to have vanished into thin air.
Now, while I was reading this book, much as I was enjoying the story, I nonetheless found the whole far-fetched plot line about Nazi Plant Sociology so unbelievable that I wondered if the author had made it all up. Turns out she hadn't.
"Blood and Soil" was in fact a key Nazi slogan and the logo of the Reich Ministry of Food and Agriculture,
Though Karen K. Brees's "Crosswind" is a suspenseful page-turner full of quick turns and simmering intrigues, it was the amazing history of Nazi plant ideology in which the espionage story is wrapped- and which I never knew about - that most captivated me.
"Crosswind" is a terrific read and I recommend it. It will surely light up your brain cells and provoke your thoughts. Here's the Amazon link: