A Granddaughter's Search for Her Family's
Forbidden Nazi Past
Available in hardcover, paperback, e-book (Rowman & Littlefield) and audiobook (Blackstone Audio).
This powerful memoir traces Brazilian-born American Julie Lindahl’s journey to uncover her grandparents’ roles in the Third Reich as she is driven to understand how and why they became members of Hitler’s elite, the SS. Out of the unbearable heart of the story - the unclaimed guilt that devours a family through the generations - emerges an unflinching will to learn the truth.
In a remarkable six-year journey through Germany, Poland, Paraguay, and Brazil, Julie uncovers, among many other discoveries, that her grandfather had been a fanatic member of the SS since 1934. During World War II, he was responsible for enslavement and torture and was complicit in the murder of the local population on the large estates he oversaw in occupied Poland. He eventually fled to South America to evade a new wave of war-crimes trials.
The pendulum used by Julie’s grandmother to divine good from bad and true from false becomes a symbol for the elusiveness of truth and morality, but also for the false securities we cling to when we become unmoored. As Julie delves deeper into the abyss of her family’s secret, discovering history anew, one precarious step at a time, the compassion of strangers is a growing force that transforms her world and the way that she sees her family—and herself.
As a historian, I often wondered how academics could profit from the determined pursuit of haunted family stories by descendents of individual perpetrators – which already forms a branch of its own of WWII and Holocaust literature. Here’s the breathtaking answer.
—Jochen Böhler, Director of the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies
"I have never read a book as perceptive, intuitive, and courageous as Julie Lindahl's memoir. She is the first of her generation to describe the reverberations of that terrible Darwinism, that "Herrenmensch" orientation, and its overwhelming consequences so profoundly. I thank her with all my heart."—Gerhard Hoch, Theologian and historian of Nazism in Schleswig-Holstein
"An extraordinary meditation on evil and complicity, and on the role future generations play when trying to uncover a perfidious past. With a brilliant prose that often reads as poetry, Julie Lindahl explores and discovers her family’s Nazi past. A narrative that is deeply moving as well as informative in its history." --Marjorie Agosin, Professor of Latin American Literature, Wellesley College, and multi-award-winning human rights activist
The Pendulum is an intimate investigation into family truth and lies, shame and grief, anger and indignation. It is a book — a story — that unfolds like a mystery novel with the very highest stakes; one that not only looks with honesty and wisdom at the past, but one that purposefully asks what we're going to make of it for the future. The brilliance and novelty of Lindahl's courageous journey lies in situating her own family history within our collective experience and common pain, thereby re-awakening our shared duty to break the silence and go make things better.—Derek B. Miller, internationally bestselling author of Norwegian by Night