The Bohemians: The Lovers Who Led Germany’s Resistance Against the Nazis

Houghton Harcourt. Jul. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781328566300. $28. HIST
Readers may be familiar with the names of von Stauffenberg, Bonhoeffer, and Scholl in relation to German Resistance during World War II, but other individuals have been virtually “erased” from history. Journalist and novelist Ohler (Blitzed) profiles Luftwaffe officer and early Resistance figure Harro Schulze-Boysen, who has received little attention outside of Germany. With his wife, Libertas, Harro led a group people from different backgrounds gathered by a common goal to resist Nazi oppression. The Gestapo labeled the group the Red Orchestra in an attempt to tie them to communism and Russia; however, it wasn’t so much a cohesive communist ideology for most of the members than an attempt to undermine the autocracy of the current Nazi regime. Each chapter leaves readers wanting more and rooting for the ill-fated group. Harro is a particularly heroic and strongly idealistic figure, who, along with Arvid Harnack, actively and with some success thwarted some of the regime’s attempts at indoctrination.
VERDICT Ohler’s gifts as a writer shine as he brings to life the personalities, motivations, and machinations of the Red Orchestra. Complementary works include Shareen Blair Brysac’s Resisting Hitler and Fritz Stern and Elisabeth Sifton’s No Ordinary Men.

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