Helena Schrader's Historical Fiction

Dr. Helena P. Schrader is the winner of more than 20 literary accolades. For a complete list of her awards see: http://helenapschrader.com

For readers tired of clichés and cartoons, award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader offers nuanced insight to historical events and figures based on sound research and an understanding of human nature. Her complex and engaging characters bring history back to life as a means to better understand ourselves.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Dissecting "Cold Peace" Part IV - The Characters of "Eagle's View" Plot Line

While observers can see what is happening, only decision-makers, or those close to them, know why things happen. A novel which seeks to give readers an understanding of historical events requires some characters with access to the historical figures who made history. The characters in the "Eagle's View" plot line are men on the fringes of those in power.


The most powerful political leaders in the era of "Cold Peace" were the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, the American President Harry Truman, and the British Prime Minister Clement Attlee. That said, while they were the ultimate arbiters of what happened with respect to Berlin, they were not present on the ground nor did the Berlin crisis occupy the center of their focus. The politicians most engaged in Berlin were the respective military governors and commandants of Berlin. Finally, although Germany had no government and Berlin was treated as an object by the four occupying powers, the people of Berlin found their voice and surprised Moscow no less than Washington and London by speaking up. Ultimately, they forced the powerful occupation powers to take their wishes into account. Without doubt, the spokesman for Berlin in this era was the popularly elected mayor Ernst Reuter. 

In short, principle characters in the "Eagle's View" plot line had to be able to interact with the commandants and the mayor of Berlin in order to plausibly allow the reader to look inside the closed rooms where decisions were being made. While the actions of the fictional characters are invented and the dialogues they have with historical personages likewise fabricated, they nevertheless are designed to convey historical facts and events and to accurately depict the historical figures as accurately as possible. 

Throughout the Berlin Crisis of 1948-1949, the Berlin City Council played a critical role -- one all too often overlooked by military historians fascinated by the logistical accomplishments of the Airlift and by political historians of the Cold War mesmerized by the superpower duel that played out in Berlin. To highlight the Berlin City Council and provide insight into its position, I created a fictional member of that body. The Council was 130 members strong, roughly 20 of those members formed the executive body, and the Social Democratic Party formed the largest faction. I made my fictional city council member, Jakob Liebherr, a representative from the traditionally Social Democratic borough of Kreuzberg and his fictional biography corresponds to that of many Social Democratic politicians of this period. Namely, he is a man who had opposed Hitler before the war, voted against the Enabling Law, and spent time in concentration camps for his opposition to National Socialism. Because of his past, Reuter trusts him with a position in the executive body of the city council.

However, the most important fictional character in the "Eagle's View" plot line is Wing Commander Robert (Robin) Priestman, the Station Commander at RAF Gatow. This airfield, which was a sleepy grass airfield in 1947, would become the busiest airfield in the entire world by the end of the Airlift, with more landings and take-offs than New York's LaGuardia airfield. Since an RAF Station Commander is a mid-ranking officer, and under normal circumstances not a terribly important person on the political stage, putting a fictional character into this role hardly "violates" history in a significant way. On the other hand, because of the importance of Gatow to the success of the airlift, the Station Commander there inherently had the ear of anyone involved in the Airlift and the Berlin Crisis, making him an ideal character to convey to the reader the challenges and issues faced by the Allied air forces in attempting to supply 2.2 million people entirely by air. 

Via these two fictional characters, the reader is introduced to key historical figures such as Air Commodore Waite, Generals Clay and Robertson, Colonel Howley and Mayor Reuter -- all of whom have "cameo" roles in the Bridge to Tomorrow Series. 

The historical photo below, while not directly relevant to Cold Peace, in my opinion beautifully illustrates the role that anonymous (or fictional) characters who interact with historical figures can play in our understanding of a period or person.

Cold Peace is Book I of the Bridge to Tomorrow Series. 

Three years after WWII, Europe struggles with rationing, widespread unemployment and a growing Soviet threat. Hitler's former capital lies ruined under the joint control of wartime allies bitterly at odds. With the currency worthless, the population lives on hand-outs or turns to crime and prostitution. Deep inside the Soviet Zone of occupation, Berlin appears to be an ideal target for a communist take-over, putting the defenders of democracy on a collision course with Stalin's merciless aggression. 

A Battle of Britain ace, a female air traffic controller, a concentration camp survivor and an ex-ATA woman pilot are just some of those trying to find their place in the post-war world. An air ambulance service offers a shimmer of hope, but when a Soviet fighter brings down a British passenger liner, Berlin becomes a flashpoint. The world stands poised on the brink of World War Three.


Find out more at: https://www.helenapschrader.com/bridge-to-tomorrow.html

View a video teaser at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTuE7m5InZM&t=5s

Previous releases include:



 Riding the icy, moonlit sky,

they took the war to Hitler. 

Their chances of survival were less than fifty percent. 

Their average age was 21.

This is the story of just one bomber pilot, his crew and the woman he loved. 

It is intended as a tribute to them all.  

Buy now on amazon

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 "This is the best book on the life of us fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain that I have ever seen.... I couldn't put it down."-- RAF Battle of Britain ace, Wing Commander Bob Doe.

Winner of a Hemingway Award for 20th Century Wartime Fiction, a Maincrest Media Award for Military Fiction and Silver in the Global Book Awards.

Find out more at: https://crossseaspress.com/where-eagles-never-flew


 For more information about all my books visit: https://www.helenapschrader.com


Disfiguring injuries, class prejudice and PTSD are the focus of three tales set in WWII by award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader. Find out more at: https://crossseaspress.com/grounded-eagles








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