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Cursing the Darkness

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In Nuremberg, the city which hosted the annual Nazi Party Congresses in the 1930s, a small group of friends resolve to try and fight back against the pitiless dominance of the Nazi régime. Like many of his fellow citizens, Dr Johann Voss is tormented by his political impotence and yearns to be able to bring a group of people together to take a stand for decency and human values. He sees a first opportunity to do so when a strange patient knocks on his door in the middle of the night seeking medical attention for two bullet wounds.

The patient is Rudi, a cross-dressing cabaret comedian with a strange tale to tell, and the group expands with the recruitment of Thomas, chief mechanic of the city's transport system, who is disgusted at the cover-up of the killing of a young Jewish girl, and his friend Max, curator of the city's museum and art gallery, who has already been protecting and spiriting away significant works of art looted from Jewish homes.

Daring rescues
Together they embark on a series of daring undertakings: rescuing a Jewish family from a railway wagon in Nuremberg's railway marshalling yards, dramatically shaming an SS officer who raped the family's 14-year-old daughter, and causing the spectacular public downfall of an infamous local Nazi aristocract.

Because of their activities, Thomas is faced with the threat of death in a concentration camp and Johann is captured by the SS officer whom he shamed for his actions. The group make a courageous attempt to release Johann from the Gestapo interrogation cells.

It is now too dangerous for them to continue on their present path, but their undertakings have remarkable and unexpected consequences.

A touch of satirical humour
This potentially bleak theme is treated with sensitivity and lightness of touch, and although there are dark moments in the narrative, satirical humour plays a central role. The Nazis are caricatured even more than they are demonised, and the reader is left with a positive and life-affirming insight into the resilience of the human spirit when confronted with what appear to be impossible odds.

The title of the book draws on a quotation from Eleanor Roosevelt: 'It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness'.

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