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The sub/subtitle here is: An Extraordinary Woman’s Letters Witness Germany’s Descent into Chaos. And by the time one reads through all the book titles, the contents has already been made clear.  The author of the book is Catherine R. Hammond. Publisher: Nebbadoon Press, 2013.

Dorothy Rose Inness was a young South African woman, born into a highly placed English-speaking family. After meeting and marrying a young German count, she kept up a steady correspondence with her parents as she learned to negotiate the mores of east German gentry, circa 1905. As hard-working mistress of a large, agricultural estate and devoted wife of an aristocrat, she had daily contact with all levels of German society. She learned to love her new life, which eventually included five children, and so does the reader, though both come to see and deprecate the cultural characteristics and political mistakes that made Germany vulnerable to Nazism and Hitler’s rough-shod rise to power.

At the same time, this is the story of the rise of Christian Science in Germany, told from an outside/insider’s point of view. This book contrasts the viewpoint of the the well-known Christian Science in Germany by Frances Thurber Seale, the Christian Science practitioner sent by the church to Germany to introduce that movement.

Count von Moltke, after witnessing an attention-getting healing or two, became a student, took class instruction, and became a busy, full-time practitioner in Berlin. He soon was made the first Christian Science Committee on Publication in Germany, charged with correcting misinformation — rumors and half-truths rampant around the new faith and way of life — that would create impositions on the German public. Dorothy early on saw the value of Christian Science and became an earnest student, too. They both worked on the first translation of Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, into German.

The book consists of letters from Dorothy to her parents in South Africa, woven together almost “as-was” by Catherine R. Hammond. For all the World War I and II films I’ve seen, history lectures attended, etc., this offers the best insight into that period’s sad descent from beauty and purpose into national degradation.  For instance, I had been taught to deprecate Lord Astor’s sympathy with the post-WWI rise of new nationalism in Germany. In Britain, and consequently in America, such Brits were seen as 5th columnists. However, Dorothy saw how Astor’s respectful communication with the new German government helped exempt the burgeoning Christian Science church from the persecution with which the Nazis attempted to flatten other “foreign” churches. By the time Hitler’s radar swept over the Christian Science church, its adherents had been able to grow a much firmer and long-lasting grip on the faith. Astor’s buffer allowed the Christian Science movement in Germany to develop deep enough roots to survive the Holocaust and emerge with strength into modern Germany.

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