A castle in wartime One family, their missing sons, and the fight to defeat the Nazis

Catherine Bailey, 1960-

Book - 2019

"A story of one family's extraordinary courage and resistance amidst the horrors of war from the author of The Secret Rooms. As war swept across Europe in 1940, the idyllic life of Fey von Hassell seemed a world away from the conflict. The daughter of Ulrich von Hassell, Hitler's Ambassador to Italy, her marriage to Italian aristocrat Detalmo Pirzio-Biroli brought with it a castle and an estate in the north of Italy. Beautiful and privileged, Fey and her two young sons lead a tran...quil life undisturbed by the trauma and privations of war. But with Fascism approaching its zenith, Fey's peaceful existence is threatened when Ulrich and Detalmo take the brave and difficult decision to resist the Nazis. When German soldiers pour over the Italian border, Fey is suddenly marooned in the Nazi-occupied north and unable to communicate with her husband, who has joined the underground anti-Fascist movement in Rome. Before long, SS soldiers have taken up occupancy in the castle. As Fey struggles to maintain an air of warm welcome to her unwanted guests, the clandestine activities of both her father and husband become increasingly brazen and openly rebellious. Darkness descends when Ulrich's foiled plot to kill the Fuhrer brings the Gestapo to Fey's doorstep. It would be months before Detalmo learns that his wife had been arrested and his two young boys seized by the SS"--

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 943.086/Bailey Due Jun 12, 2022
Subjects
Genres
Biographies
Published
[New York, NY] : Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC [2019]
Language
English
Item Description
"First published in Great Britain as The Lost Boys: a Family Ripped Apart by War, by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Books, a division of Penguin Random House Ltd., London, in 2019"--Title page verso.
Physical Description
ix, 461 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9780525559290
0525559299
9780525559313
0525559310
Main Author
Catherine Bailey, 1960- (author)
Other Authors
Ian Moores (cartographer)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Life on a spectacular estate nestled between the Alps and Venice seems idyllic. And so it was for Fey von Hassell, until the coming of WWII. Her father, Ulrich, was Germany's ambassador to Italy, but, like many German aristocrats, he heartily disapproved of Hitler. Von Hassell married a titled Italian, Detalmo Pirzio-Biroli, antipathetic to the fascist regime of Mussolini. All this put von Hassell and her two young sons in mortal danger as the Allies invaded Europe. Her father was hanged for his connection to the unsuccessful bomb attack on the führer, and her husband joined the Italian Resistance in Rome. She herself was arrested, and her sons were sent to a Tyrolean orphanage. Bailey's deep research and her amazing craft at reproducing in vivid detail the stories of von Hassell and the people she encounters as she is first imprisoned and then shipped through the Nazi concentration-camp system make for chilling prose. Maps and photographs help organize this terrifying story of the costs of political resistance. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Using private family archives, oral histories, and primary sources in a multitude of languages, historian Bailey (The Secret Rooms) adroitly brings together the chaos, pathos, and unpredictability of life within the increasingly panicked and fanatical Nazi terror machine. This book encompasses the shared experience of many upper-class Sippenhäftlinge, whose family members were deemed the worst traitors and enemies of the state by Hitler, and whose fates lay in the hands of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, who had his own secret agenda. As with Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts, Bailey allows the primary sources to blend almost seamlessly into the story while her writing elevates the voice of German author Fey von Hassell's recitation of her harrowing ordeal. Bailey's exhaustively researched work addresses von Hassell's journey from every angle while also addressing the actions, motives, and perceptions of those she encounters across both fronts of the war and in Italy. VERDICT An incredibly sweeping and readable tale, this excellent history is for readers interested in World War II and personal narratives.—Elan Marae Birkeland, Arizona Western Coll., Yuma Copyright 2019 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Drawing from interviews and primary sources, documentarian Bailey (The Secret Rooms) tells the true WWII tale of aristocrat Fey Pirzio-Biroli in this exciting history. Pirzio-Biroli and her husband, Detalmo, an Italian anti-Fascist, had lived a quiet life at Brazza, their lavish estate north of Venice. In 1944, Pirzio-Biroli was arrested by the Nazis and separated from her children after her father, the former German ambassador to Italy, was executed for taking part in plans to assassinate Hitler. After placing Pirzio-Biroli's sons in an orphanage, her Nazi captors sent her and fellow "prisoners of kin," so called for their blood ties to the assassination conspirators, on a grueling months-long journey around German-occupied central Europe. Along the way, they were held in prisons and concentration camps. Their living conditions weren't as horrific as those of Jews and other Nazi scapegoats, and their lives were spared—only because Heinrich Himmler, the head of the German SS, hoped to use them as bargaining chips in negotiations with the Allies. While Pirzio-Biroli and her husband were reunited soon after the war's end, it was a longer and more arduous project to track down their children. This historical page-turner gives a gripping view of the conflict's consequences for one upper-crust family. (Oct.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Drawing from interviews and primary sources, documentarian Bailey (The Secret Rooms) tells the true WWII tale of aristocrat Fey Pirzio-Biroli in this exciting history. Pirzio-Biroli and her husband, Detalmo, an Italian anti-Fascist, had lived a quiet life at Brazza, their lavish estate north of Venice. In 1944, Pirzio-Biroli was arrested by the Nazis and separated from her children after her father, the former German ambassador to Italy, was executed for taking part in plans to assassinate Hitler. After placing Pirzio-Biroli's sons in an orphanage, her Nazi captors sent her and fellow "prisoners of kin," so called for their blood ties to the assassination conspirators, on a grueling months-long journey around German-occupied central Europe. Along the way, they were held in prisons and concentration camps. Their living conditions weren't as horrific as those of Jews and other Nazi scapegoats, and their lives were spared—only because Heinrich Himmler, the head of the German SS, hoped to use them as bargaining chips in negotiations with the Allies. While Pirzio-Biroli and her husband were reunited soon after the war's end, it was a longer and more arduous project to track down their children. This historical page-turner gives a gripping view of the conflict's consequences for one upper-crust family. (Oct.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

The best-selling author of The Secret Rooms documents the experiences of ambassador’s daughter Fey von Hassell, whose family made the brave decision to forfeit their privileged existences to resist the Nazis during the occupation of northern Italy. Illustrations. Maps.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"An enthralling story of one family's extraordinary courage and resistance amidst the horrors of war from the New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Rooms. As war swept across Europe in 1940, the idyllic life of Fey von Hassell seemed a world away from the conflict. The daughter of Ulrich von Hassell, Hitler's Ambassador to Italy, her marriage to Italian aristocrat Detalmo Pirzio-Biroli brought with it a castle and an estate in the north of Italy. Beautiful and privileged, Fey and her two young sons lead a tranquil life undisturbed by the trauma and privations of war. But with Fascism approaching its zenith, Fey's peaceful existence is threatened when Ulrich and Detalmo take the brave and difficult decision to resist the Nazis. When German soldiers pour over the Italian border, Fey is suddenly marooned in the Nazi-occupied north and unable to communicate with her husband, who has joined the underground anti-Fascist movement in Rome. Before long, SS soldiers have taken up occupancy in the castle.As Fey struggles to maintain an air of warm welcome to her unwanted guests, the clandestine activities of both her father and husband become increasingly brazen and openly rebellious. Darkness descends when Ulrich's foiled plot to kill the Fuhrer brings the Gestapo to Fey's doorstep. It would be months before Detalmo learns that his wife had been arrested and his two young boys seized by the SS."--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"I was gripped by A Castle in Wartime--it contained more tension, more plot in fact--than any thriller."--Kate Atkinson, author of Big Sky and Case HistoriesAn enthralling story of one family's extraordinary courage and resistance amidst the horrors of war from the New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Rooms.As war swept across Europe in 1940, the idyllic life of Fey von Hassell seemed a world away from the conflict. The daughter of Ulrich von Hassell, Hitler's Ambassador to Italy, her marriage to Italian aristocrat Detalmo Pirzio-Biroli brought with it a castle and an estate in the north of Italy. Beautiful and privileged, Fey and her two young sons lead a tranquil life undisturbed by the trauma and privations of war. But with Fascism approaching its zenith, Fey's peaceful existence is threatened when Ulrich and Detalmo take the brave and difficult decision to resist the Nazis.When German soldiers pour over the Italian border, Fey is suddenly marooned in the Nazi-occupied north and unable to communicate with her husband, who has joined the underground anti-Fascist movement in Rome. Before long, SS soldiers have taken up occupancy in the castle. As Fey struggles to maintain an air of warm welcome to her unwanted guests, the clandestine activities of both her father and husband become increasingly brazen and openly rebellious. Darkness descends when Ulrich's foiled plot to kill the Fuhrer brings the Gestapo to Fey's doorstep. It would be months before Detalmo learns that his wife had been arrested and his two young boys seized by the SS. Suffused with Catherine Bailey's signature atmospheric prose, A Castle in Wartime tells the unforgettable story of the extraordinary bravery and fortitude of one family who collectively and individually sacrificed everything to resist the Nazis from within. Bailey's unprecedented access to stunning first-hand family accounts, along with records from concentration camps and surviving SS files, make this a dazzling and compulsively readable book, opening a view on the cost and consequences of resistance.