Hitler’s Holy Relics: A True Story of Nazi Plunder and the Race to Recover the Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire by Sidney D. Kirkpatrick is a riveting tale that is rich in history and wonder. The author details the near impossible task given to a single American soldier trained in art history; to find the lost relics of the Holy Roman Empire.
The story is breathtaking in both the historical depth that is described as well as the sheer odds that were placed against Walter Horn. The novel tracks the history of the Spear of Longinus and its connection to the power of the Holy Roman Empire and through that, the perceived supernatural and symbolic power the spear would yield in the legitimacy of a Fourth Reich that would have tried to assert itself had the Crown Jewels fallen into the wrong hands.
Kirkpatrick peels away layers of history and brings new light to historical occurrences. The novel, set in Nuremberg, the site of the trials against the Nazi leaders led by the Allies highlights the depth of destruction World War II caused. Nuremberg was once the site of famed Nazi party rallies and was the heart of the Nazi regime is now the heart of their prosecution.
Kirkpatrick’s work is a masterpiece that highlights the reality of a post-war Germay and highlights the familial drama of a German-born American soldier and the pain of reconnecting with his family and friends after such a devastation. It was exactly this subplot that was more captivating and at times painful to read.
Some of his friends had joined the Nazi party for survival and had seen loved ones and lovers directly affected by the Holocaust. One of Horn’s own family members was a proud member of the Nazi party. Towards the end of the novel, Horn rescues his mother from Russian-controlled German land, but his sister refuses to leave. This personal drama, for me was poignant and offered a real look at the way in which this historical tragedy had torn apart so many families on top of the horrific number of lives lost.