S&P, of the S&P 500, issued a warning to the U.S. today about it’s debt load — but it didn’t issue one to Germany. In the April 19, 2011 article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “US Warned On Debt Load” we learned that the US debt load is now 10.6 of its gross domestic product. Britain’s debt load is almost as bad at 10.4%, and they were downgraded in 2009. France’s debt is 7% of its gross domestic product. Germany — and get this! — had a debt load of only 3.3%, the lowest debt ratio in the western world among leading economic countries.

No doubt this is a legacy of Germany’s fear of inflation that dates back to its stock market collapse in 1923. This was far worse than the American stock market crash of 1929. If you held onto your stocks during the 1929 debacle, you would earn all your money back and more. If you held on in Germany in 1923, the stocks would never recover and you would lose all your money. This is the only incident like this in the entire 200 year history of the modern stock market. And it was not by chance that Adolf Hitler attempted his first “putsch” in November of 1923, the Beer Hall Putsch. It failed, but it was a warning sign for the future. It would take him ten more years to gain the title of Chancellor and finally Fuhrer one year later in 1934.

Germany learned its lesson about inflation the hard way. Does the US have to learn the hard way, too?

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Captive At The Berghof begins during the summer of 1935 when the Wares to to Germany to celebrate the Anglo-German Naval Treaty. It ends during the Battle of First Alamein in July of 1942. It explores Hitler’s rapid rise during the late 1930’s until he becomes an unstoppable force by 1938 during his fabled meeting with Neville Chamberlain at the Berghof. At the end the Second World War overwhelms Europe.

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Thomasina Edwina Ware, daughter of Colonel Sir Edward Ware, meets Hitler as a one-month old baby at Carinhall in the Shorfeheide Forest outside Berlin and is instantly enchanted with the “nice man” who presents her with gifts. As she grows older and spends more time in his company and in the company of his National Socialist friends, she grows more and more fascinated with the smiling man who praises her to the skies. She never questions his motives. What child would?

Dora and Edward are appalled when they finally wrest the toddler away from the Dictator to learn that her first spoken word is “Opa”, meaning “grandfather” in German. The child is referring to HItler.

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I was writing a novel about the next 9/11 called The Black Stone a couple of years back and was tracing the origins of Arab terrorism. Naturally this led me back to Lawrence of Arabia fighting the Arab Revolt during World War I, or the Great War.

At first I meant to maintain an American perspective, but soon I found out that Lawrence of Arabia was the lone white man in ihis troop of Bedouins rebelling against the Turks. Only one American figured here, and his name was Lowell Thomas who wrote With Lawrence in Arabia and started the legend that led to the famous 60’s movie.

Lawrence was of course British, and that clinched it. I had to give him a secretary, or adjutant, to observe the action. That led to the creation of Edward Ware, the main male character and the hero of my series of novels about World War I and World War II. No American would work here. We didn’t enter the war until 1917, and our troops arrived even later.

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Back in the 1930’s people generally thought the swastika symbolized a forward looking movement in Germany. They even thought it might be good for all of Europe, especially in the aftermath of the Great War. That’s why the character in the Hollywood movie “The Women” referred to a swastika as a relaxing, peaceful symbol. It was the sort of thing you might put on a T-shirt if that had been in vogue back then. Remember, Hitler was Time Magazine’s Man of the Year in 1938.

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In the 1939 movie “The Women”, which wasn’t at all political, there is a casual reference to Hitler. It’s fascinating because it shows how he was regarded in the 30’s as faraway as America. One of the characters says she wishes she could sit down in this chair and “stretch out like a swastika”. Hitler was considered in vogue, very much “in”, and even what we would now call “cool”.

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Hitler’s kidnapping of the little girl, Thomasina Edwina Ware, is observed througout the novel from the point of view of Dora, Lady Ware. Lady Ware and her husband are buffeted about by Hitler’s doings and the doings of his chief agent, Helga von Wessel. They valiantly fight back, but their opposition is winning. What can they do to succeed? They are successful as long as Hitler doesn’t get his hands on the Lawrence maps. The question is though, what is the cost to Dora and her husband, Edward?

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Hitler’s not exactly the type to bring to mind a father figure image, though he did like to hear himself called “mein Fuhrer” and gave out marital counseling advice and liked to matchmake. He did pose with various real little girls in Germany in the 30’s, but most people think of that as political posturing.

In my novel he kidnaps a little girl from England and then proceeds to convert her to his way of thinking. Thomasina actually likes “mein Vati”. And before that she calls him “Opa”, or grandfather in German. In fact, it’s the first word that Dora and Edward, her biological parents, ever hear her speak.

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Captive In The Berghof was originally book 3 in a 4 book series. First of all we had King Abdullah’s Tomb, which was originally entitled Those Who Dream By Day. Book two was called In the Shadow Of The Sphinx. Berghof was book 3. And Hitler’s Trinity was book four. The first two novels, King Abduallah’s Tomb and Sphinx, have been orphaned and cut off from the main story by later revisions, though they seem to be about the same Dora and Edward. My son calls it an alternate time line. The only two novels that fit together are Berghof and Hitler’s Trinity, which are one and two in a series.

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Hitler knows what he wants, and he wants the Lawrence maps. They are cartographic gems drawn by the late Lawrence of Arabia that explain how to take and defend every major position in the Middle East. Hitler can’t do without them. He knows oil will win the next war, and he doesn’t want to be on the losing side again as he was in the Great War when he was only a corporal. So he does everything humanly possible to get hold of them. This struggle is what makes up the plot of Captive At The Berghof. Dora thinks at the beginning that she didn’t realize when she married Edward that she was consenting to a duel to the death with the Nazi dictator.

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