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Eva’s Cousin Reader’s Guide

By Sibylle Knauss

Eva's Cousin by Sibylle Knauss

READERS GUIDE

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. Were you able to relate to Marlene, and if so, how?

2. Would you agree that Marlene, in many ways, seems like a normal girl caught in frighteningly abnormal circumstances? Why or why not?

3. Does reading about Marlene’s complicity make you uneasy at all, and if so, why?

4. Should literature please us or make us uncomfortable? How does Eva’s Cousin do either, neither, or both?

5. How do history and fiction collide in Eva’s Cousin? Do you find “truth” in stories, in facts, or in both? What does “historically accurate” even mean?

6. Hitler himself famously used the Armenian genocide and Europe’s apparent amnesia of it, as an example of how the victors write history. How might Gertrude Weisker’s story have been different had Germany won World War II? What does this say about history’s relationship to fiction?

7. Why would an author choose to fictionalize a story like Weisker’s? How do your expectations change as a reader when you read a novel about an historical event, versus a history book?

8. What constitutes an “historical event”?

9. The Nazis themselves knew that words are dangerous. Do you think Marlene knew this, as well? If so, why?

10. How could Eva Braun love a man like Hitler? What might this suggest about the nature of love, if anything?

11. Would you recommend this book to anyone? Why or why not? Would you recommend it to a German friend? Why or why not?

12. What, if anything, does this book contribute to your understanding of Germany during World War II? Does it confirm or challenge any of your current knowledge about the War?

 
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