A ‘Slow and Painful Awakening’ WWII novel explores a German soldier’s homecoming By Jenni Herrick Feb. 16, 2016 Shepherd Express Milwaukee, WI
We are all keenly familiar with timeless stories of decorated soldiers who returned from World War II, and many of us likely have family members who fought in these historic battles. We don’t often think from the perspective of returning German soldiers, however. In Kenneth Kapp’s novel The Slow and Painful Awakening of Herr Wilhelm Neimann, we follow the protagonist as he returns from the Eastern Front in 1944 and struggles to reintegrate into a small village in southwestern Germany. As he battles his old wounds and tortured buried memories, he also works as a teacher where he encounters students who believe that the local crematoria is infecting the villagers with the genes of perished Jews. Wilhelm fights valiantly against his inner demons, guilt-riddled conscious and painful past at the same time that he yearns for acceptance by his new community. The Slow and Painful Awakening of Herr Wilhelm Neimann is a compelling tragedy told with historical accuracy through the eyes of honest characters.