After 26 books, investigative reporter and true crimes best-selling author Mark Shaw believes his newest book is the most important he has written to date. “Courage in the Face of Evil” is adapted from the actual diary of a German Christian nurse who endured more than five years in Ravensbrück, the only concentration camp exclusively for women in the German Reich. This November will mark 80 years since the camp was constructed, and it is believed that between 90,000 and 115,000 of the inmates at Ravensbrück did not survive. Although the subject matter was difficult, Shaw says capturing the voice of the book’s heroine, re-named Vera Konig in the book, was uncomplicated.
“I wanted this courageous woman’s voice to be heard in this book as she presented it in the diary,” says Shaw. “Therefore, little editing at all exists except toward the back end of the diary, permitting her words to be presented almost exactly as Vera wrote them during her days of fighting to survive the horrors of the Holocaust. We needed to qualify the book as ‘based on a true story’ since I added what her daughter told me her mother’s intentions were after the war regarding saving a Nazi SS prison guard’s life.”
The story, described by Shaw as both disturbing and inspiring, chronicles how Vera became a prisoner of the Nazi regime after helping hide many Jewish people, forging their passports and distributing anti-fascist flyers. Inside the concentration camp, Vera befriends a Russian orphan girl, hides her to save her from the gas chambers and when Vera cannot hide her anymore, risks her life and the little girl’s by trusting the guard who has shown Vera compassion. Shaw says Vera’s faith was tested many times during her ordeal.
“Everyone loses faith at times during their spiritual journey and Vera was no exception,” says Shaw. “When readers listen to her voice they will hear how she tried to understand how the Nazis could be so cruel to others especially the children and, failing that, cried her eyes out on a nightly basis. Several times she asked why God was not listening to her prayers, why He would not provide the miracles she sought so as to help others. During her most difficult times with keeping hope, God brought her, as she wrote, ‘a miracle,’ a young child she could mother and love. This happening renewed her hope and faith, and she was determined to save Andrea’s life at all costs, even if she died doing so.”
Shaw says eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust are not only important for historical purposes, but should be “stop and think moments” for today’s generation.
“In today’s world, we see examples everywhere of hate— school shootings, racial injustice, violation of women’s rights, bigotry— it is unlimited,” says Shaw. “The Holocaust came about because of the overbearing power of a man who believed he was some sort of god who could decide who lived and who died due to a boundless hatred for anyone who disagreed with him. By recalling the events of the Holocaust, we must learn our lesson— that love can overcome darkness. Our society is raising young people who complain when they are unable to use their smart phones for ten hours a day. Hopefully books such as ‘Courage in the Face of Evil’ will help this generation recognize how others suffered unimaginable things from people filled with hatred causing young people to stop and think about what is most important in life, a willingness to spread love throughout the world, as it should be.”