Published Jan 2010
As the Third Reich lies in ruins, Hitler’s successor Admiral Dönitz and his abortive government retreat north to Lake Plön. In the midst of the chaos Michael Quantz, German ex-intelligence officer, must find his wife and child and establish a new identity under the Allied regime. Thirteen years later, memories of the war are rekindled when the daughter of Paul Dahl, his childhood friend and SS zealot, arrives on the shores of Lake Plön. Submerged beneath the still dark waters of the lake lie the remnants of war – uniforms, medals and weapons discarded by the retreating German army. What secrets will the next generation uncover as they delve into their fathers’ past? And can they move beyond the racial hatred spawned by the war?
The Element of Water is a powerful and compassionate study of conflicting emotions in post-war Germany and the waning British Empire. But it is also a tender love story, raising universal questions about the nature of memory, guilt and survival.