Title: An Isle in the Sky
Category and Genre: Adult historical fiction
Word count: 79,000 words
The year 1943 hasn’t started well for Luftwaffe ace Georg von Kirchhoff. Shot down in combat, he’s on his way home to recuperate when wound sepsis puts him in a hospital in war-torn Warsaw. Amidst the devastation, Georg is shocked to see his first love, Rachel, cleaning street rubble with a group of Jews from the ghetto. She is even more beautiful in real life than the bygone girl from his memories, but to his chagrin, she denies her name is Rachel and refuses to acknowledge him.
Sulamif escapes from the ghetto to the Aryan side after her mother has been murdered along with three-hundred thousand Warsaw Jews. Bribing guards is easy, but everyday survival in hiding is hard. Blackmailed and denounced, Sulamif accepts help from the confused German who mistook her for a girl named Rachel.
The more Georg gets to know Sulamif, the deeper he falls for this beautiful stranger. Georg is appalled to discover what the Nazis are doing to the Warsaw Jews. No wonder she can’t be with someone who fights for Hitler. Meanwhile, Sulamif makes a discovery of her own: she has become a pariah in her own land. She will have to learn to trust a German or perish with the rest of the Warsaw Jews. Georg can’t desert, but to earn her love, he must find a way out of the war trap. One wrong move against the Nazis will not only end his life but also the life of the woman he loves.
Warsaw, January 7, 1943
Some memories are better left untouched.
Five years after their first encounter, Warsaw was not the city Georg von Kirchhoff remembered. A lighthearted place pre-war, she had grown cold and uninviting, greeting visitors with the eyesores of damaged buildings in place of former architectural masterpieces. Dirty snow covered the ruins in a pathetic attempt to camouflage the sweeping transformation, all in vain, for the gloomy faces of Poles said it loud and clear: welcome to the devastation of war.
The Opel Admiral limousine passed the mauled facade of what used to be a tenement building, judging by the twisted iron remains of balconies attached to the bare walls. Georg raised the collar of his overcoat. Somehow, the chilly draft found its way to his neck through the closed windows of the limousine that belonged to the Governor of Warsaw, Ludwig Fischer, who’d been kind enough to send his personal driver to bring Georg to their rendezvous at Café Adria.
The Hotel European, Enrico Marconi’s Neo-Renaissance tour de force, came into view on the right side of Cracow Suburb Street. Undamaged. An unexpected wave of unctuous pleasure rippled through Georg’s veins, warming his heart. Five years after he and Rachel had won the Junior International Ballroom competition, the European’s grand edifice stood as a monument to the Austerlitz of his youth. At least one intact place remained in Warsaw for an unrushed visit down nostalgia lane later on.
“All right, Hans, I’ve seen enough,” Georg told the driver.