Uncommon Enemy – John Reynolds
In this exciting alternative history Nazi Germany is the 1941 victor of World War II
and, together with all her enemies occupies the democratic nation of New Zealand.
“Well written, gives food for thought and interesting. The plot is good the characters are well thought out. I highly recommend it.” – Patsy Wolf
Initially the Occupation regime seeks to win popular support through post-war prosperity initiatives that include child support payments and encouraging a growth in farming. However the regime also begin to clamp down on all personal freedoms and impose widespread censorship.
Stuart Johnson, a university student, encounters the beautiful Carol Peterson on the cross-harbour ferry. She is accompanied by Hamish Beavis who quickly takes exception to Stuart’s obvious interest in Carol. The attraction between Stuart and Carol rapidly develops but Stuart, unaware of the dark secret that she carries, is puzzled by the hold that Hamish appears to have over her.
The grip on the New Zealand population continues to grow as the new regime increasingly clamps down on personal and democratic freedoms. Some sections of the population, for a variety of reasons, cooperate and collaborate with their new masters resulting in divided loyalties and confrontation between families and friends and Carol is appalled when Hamish decides to join the local Nazi Party.
Following a student protest at his university, Stuart is forced to flee and takes Carol with him. After several narrow escapes they make contact with a resistance group – part of a growing resistance network. The thwarted Hamish uses his new Nazi party position to seek revenge on Stuart and to regain control over Carol.
The resistance group provokes the authorities in a series of incidents that increase Hamish’s vengeful efforts. A series of confrontations, betrayals, twists and turns involving collaborators and resistors from all sections of society provide a thrilling background that tests Carol and Stuart’s love for each other.
Uncommon Enemy is a significant addition to the ‘what if’ genre, provides a credible and chilling picture of what might have been, and poses the question: Given the same situation what would you have done?
“I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. The characters had depth, the drama was rich, and the storyline was believable. I appreciated the maturity of the subject. World War Two was a horrible event which took millions of lives. I was concerned that an alternative history could be taking this subject matter lightly. I felt that the author was successful in handling the events of the war respectfully… This book was such an adventure. You do not have history to rely on to know how it ends which made it more thrilling. The theme of fully trusting and taking care of the ones you love was a touching note woven throughout the book… I feel that anyone interested in romance, drama, danger, history, and action will love this book.” – K2rugman, Online Book Club
KEEP READING TO ENJOY AN EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK
John Reynolds is a New Zealand freelance writer, teacher and broadcaster. He has travelled and worked in a variety of countries including England, Canada, Zimbabwe, Malaysia, Australia and the USA. He has also travelled through Western and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, and Russia. All of these experiences have informed his writing.
He has written the plot and lyrics for five full-length musicals: Robyn Hood Outlaw Princess (music by Gary Daverne), Starblaze, Valley of the Voodons, Windust and Sink the Warrior (music by Shade Smith), two novels Uncommon Enemy, Robyn Hood Outlaw Princess (based on the musical), and Writing Your First Novel – a book for aspiring fiction writers.
A qualified teacher, he has a BA (History) University of Auckland,
MA (Educational Technology) San Jose State University California,
and a PhD (Film, TV and Media Studies) University of Auckland.
He is an experienced radio and television broadcaster and public speaker and enjoys doing presentations to groups about his writing experiences, either in person or through social media.
Excerpt from Uncommon Enemy
Speaking in German, von Ribbentrop addressed the assembled New Zealanders.
“Germany has great admiration for New Zealand and its people,” he began. “During the recent battles in the Western desert, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel gained a great respect not only for the fighting quality of New Zealand troops but also the excellent treatment given to the German soldiers that were held as your prisoners – temporarily.”
Von Ribbentrop paused and smiling benignly at the listening delegates, nodded to the interpreter on his right. On the word “temporarily” the German foreign minister’s faint smile grew broader.
“New Zealand is a stable country populated by well educated people,” he continued. “It is our intention to develop a special relationship with your people based on the principles of mutual respect and cooperation. After all your country has a socialist government; our country has a National Socialist government.”
Stuart noticed that Fraser and Nash immediately exchanged uneasy glances.
“Both are based on the principles of giving strength and happiness to our peoples,” continued von Ribbentrop through his interpreter. “We will therefore be establishing a New Order in New Zealand that will be of benefit to all your people.”
He paused, brushed a speck of dust from the sleeve of his dark suit and beamed at his audience. When the interpreter had finished he then invited the delegates to open their red leather folder at the title page.There were only two additional pages. The first elaborated on von Ribbentrop’s earlier sentiments regarding the mutual respect between the two nations and the principles of cooperation that would be the cornerstone of the New Order. The second page briefly spelt out the ‘peace terms’. As the delegates read through each point, it became painfully obvious that room for negotiation was limited. Clearly the German government had already decided on the type of regime that was to be established in New Zealand.
For several minutes von Ribbentrop remained silent but watchful as the delegates perused the document. Then, ostentatiously clearing his throat he continued.
“Tomorrow, gentlemen, you will be given full details of the peace treaty. Unfortunately the Third Reich has received unjust criticism for its disciplined occupation of Poland and other countries. Of course, these are lies manufactured by our enemies. The New Order that we will establish in your country will be based on the principles of mutual understanding and respect. Our prosperity will be your prosperity. Our progress will be your progress.”
When the interpreter concluded, von Ribbentrop swept his eyes slowly round the delegates and drew a deep breath. For the first time he raised his voice and, speaking in English, he intoned, “Gentlemen of New Zealand, together we will build a new and glorious tomorrow!” He paused and thrust his right arm stiffly into a horizontal position. “Sieg Heil!” he shouted. Instantly the Leibstandarte guards stationed round the perimeter of the hall shouldered their weapons and thrusting their right arms forward echoed the Nazi slogan. As the repeated cry resonated from the marble walls and ceiling, the New Zealand delegates sat uncomfortably on their chairs exchanging uncertain glances.
Abruptly von Ribbentrop lowered his outstretched arm. The chanting ceased immediately and the echoes died slowly away. Holding both sides of the podium he frowned at the seated New Zealanders then smiled thinly.
“Gentlemen,” he said in soft, measured English, “it is a common courtesy among diplomats to acknowledge the culture of other nations and join in their celebrations.” He paused, his smile vanished and his eyes narrowed. “Gentlemen, please stand and join with us in a salute to our beloved Führer.”
Each delegate turned his eyes towards the New Zealand Prime Minister. There was a long pause and then, signalling to his colleagues to remain seated Peter Fraser stood slowly to face von Ribbentrop. His face was pale and behind his thick-lensed spectacles he was blinking nervously. He coughed, swallowed and began speaking in his soft Scottish tones.
“Mr. Foreign Minister, on behalf of my colleagues, I thank you for your courtesy and hospitality.” He paused and glanced at the interpreter but von Ribbentrop gestured impatiently. “I understand, Herr Fraser. Continue, please.”
Fraser swallowed again. “We thank you also for the compliment that you have paid to the fighting quality of our soldiers and their treatment of your soldiers.”
He paused and met the ambassador’s unwavering gaze. “Earlier you spoke of implementing a New Order based on the principles of mutual understanding and respect between our two nations.”
He paused again and looked down at the tense upturned faces of his colleagues. “While we respect your right to salute your leader, at this present moment such methods are not part of our New Zealand culture. I will therefore ask my colleagues to confine themselves to standing as a mark of respect between our two nations.”
Fraser made a short gesture with his upturned palms and the members of the New Zealand delegation rose uncertainly to their feet and stood silently. Colour had drained from every face.
The interpreter leaned towards von Ribbentrop but was waved impatiently away.
“You will not salute the German Führer?” asked the ambassador with deliberate slowness.
“We are standing as a mark of respect to you, to the German people and Chancellor Hitler.” The delegates close to Fraser could see that his hands were trembling and that he was making a considerable effort to maintain his self-control. “That is all we are able to do at present,” he concluded looking directly at von Ribbentrop.
“You will not salute?”
“We are standing as a mark of respect to you, to the German—-.”
Von Ribbentrop, while still holding Fraser’s stare, made an almost imperceptible movement with his right hand. Instantly two of the Leibstandarte guards sprang forward. White-gloved hands gripped both of the Prime Minister’s arms. Von Ribbentrop made a second gesture and the guards snapped to attention while maintaining their unwavering grip. A collective murmur of protest rose from the New Zealand delegates. Instantly a tight circle of soldiers, holding their Schmeissers conspicuously in front of them, surrounded the table.
The ambassador’s smile was devoid of mirth. Still holding Fraser’s gaze he spoke very softly.
“Herr Fraser, I invite you to reconsider your position. The cooperation of you and your fellow New Zealanders is very important to the continued success of the peace talks.”
“Do as he says Peter,” muttered Frederick Jones.
“We’ve got no choice, Peter,” echoed Walter Nash.
Fraser made a supreme effort to control his trembling. Then he spoke rapidly. “Mr. Foreign Minister, you referred earlier to the lies about your occupation of Poland. My people know that the Germans carried out mass executions of thousands of unarmed, defenceless Polish citizens within weeks of the surrender.”
Von Ribbentrop opened his mouth but Fraser determinedly pressed on.
“These actions defy every accepted practice of human decency. Therefore, sir, until you are able to demonstrate that such actions are no longer practised by your government, I must advise my delegates to confine themselves to merely standing.”
Fraser’s Scottish accent and speed of speech was beyond von Ribbentrop’s linguistic ability. Beckoning the interpreter forward with a jerk of his head, he listened intently to the rapid, whispered translation. At the conclusion his head snapped upwards. His cheeks had visibly flamed.
“Herr Fraser, I assure you that within the next 24 hours you will have cause to regret your words.”