Hidden Wounds: A Soldiers Burden
Author: Nate Brookshire, Marius Tecoanta
Publisher: Network 3000 (2011)
Binding: Paperback, 192 pages
April 13, 1945...The last days of WWII...Eight lone German soldiers surrendered. Instead of a POW camp, their steps took them into a shallow grave. John Dougall, an 18-year-old American soldier, stood by as the murderous shots were fired. Laying there among the dead was Rudolph Haas, an officer whose death would burden John for a lifetime.
John sought redemption in the rugged hills of Korea and in the swamps of Vietnam. Chaining him to remorse and guilt were the private thoughts of Haas, written carefully into the diary that John had taken from the German's body.
Six decades later, fate gave John one last chance to set things right and make peace with his past.
This is the story of two soldiers robbed of their happiness, yet both clinging fiercely to their honor; and the stories of their wives, as strong in heart as any warrior.
The journey takes our heroes from the safety of South Carolina to the battlefields of Europe and from the frozen Siberian Gulag to the gothic cities of Bavaria. The secrets of the Journal connect them all and, unbeknownst to John, spark a love that heals their hidden wounds.
Why Hidden Wounds? This story started coming together in the spring of 2004 when two Officer Candidates decided to write a book about an American and a German soldier whose lives and families become intertwined on the battlefield in the last stages of WWII.
Action and inaction has a generational impact as the main character reflects on his choices and deals with the guilt of participating in a war crime. Is it too late at the age of 84 to make things right?
The story has evolved into a discussion of PTSD, addiction, suicide awareness / prevention and forgiveness. Please join us in the journey...
Nate Brookshire and Marius Tecoanta’s Hidden Wounds; a Soldiers Burden draws you in from the time you first read the back cover blurb: April 13, 1945… The last days of WWII… Eight lone German soldiers surrendered. Instead of a POW camp, their steps took them into a shallow grave. This book appeals on many levels—not only as a potential source of healing, but also as a fascinating, well-told story about war and its impact.
Hidden Wounds revolves around World War II veteran John Dougall’s connection to the leader of the surrendering German soldiers mentioned above, named Rudolph Haas. On his body, John Dougall discovers a meticulously crafted journal. The journal chronicles this German soldier’s incredible combat experiences, and a great deal of the book re-creates his tragically short life. It is a compelling, fast-paced, and interesting story.
However, in addition to covering Haas' combat exploits, the journal also highlights the young soldier’s family and especially his young wife. In other words, the journal emphasizes that Rudolph Hess was human being, and not just "an enemy;" and this complicates Dougall’s struggle to find a path toward redemption and closure.
For most of his life, Dougall keeps the journal tucked away in a drawer in his home—just as he tries to keep his own emotions tucked away—unable to come to grips with his past. Haas' story, along with the circumstances of his death, haunts Dougall throughout his life… a secret that might have remained untold if not for a last-ditch effort at redemption. Finally, approaching the end of his life, Dougall (with the unexpected help of the two involved families) commits to confronting his demons and perhaps even finding a way towards healing his broken spirit.
Hidden Wounds is a gritty story of bravery and atrocity in combat; and how these experiences impact the lives of not only soldiers; but their families—across time and space.
Reviewed by: John Cathcart (2012)