Chapter Seven begins with Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939. The First Mountain Division’s Signal Corps occupied new barracks in Oberammergau and recruited locals who served in France, on the eastern front, and in the Balkans, where divisional units were implicated in massacres, including one featured in the book and movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. World War II brought a leadership shift to a ruling Nazi who was a democratically elected holdover from the Weimar Republic. He served an overcrowded and socially tense village population as evacuees arrived from bombed cities all over Germany. Intrusive Nazi officials relocated a Messerschmitt plant staffed by thousands of zealous Nazi workers and forced foreign laborers housed in a special camp. As bombing fleets roared overhead in 1944, the mayor drew strength from his identity as a Passion player to protect downed Americans from active Nazis seeking retribution.
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