The Reluctant Nazi

In Adolf Hitler’s early rise to power, he stirred the souls of impressionable youth in alehouses of Munich and beyond. One such young man, Hans Reinhard Richter, ignored is brother’s warnings about the madman and immersed himself in Hitler’s promise for a greater Germany. “I put on my black shirt and marched.” He joined the Nazi Party and quickly rose in ranks to answer to the likes of Himmler and Göring. As an SS officer himself, Hans was charged with overseeing coal mines, reconfiguring them as gold depositories. He fulfilled his superiors’ orders to steal from banks, museums, and even concentration camp victims to build vast wealth for the party.

After his first wife, an SS spy, died during childbirth, Hans married Irma. By that time, both had become increasingly disillusioned with empty promises of Hitler and his henchmen. They embarked on a dangerous mission to siphon off a portion of the gold, gems, and valuable art they had stolen for the Nazis. Hans and Irma opened accounts under fictitious names and hid their stashes in banks across Europe. Once Hitler initiated the Final Solution, Hans broke with Nazi Germany and courageously joined, first, the OSS and then the CIA to investigate reported sightings of Hitler in South America.

Did he find the Führer, or did he reach a dead end?


“This is a gripping, ripping tale of intrigue involving many of WW2’s prominent people. It probes the evil of National Socialism and the veil of deception and control sustaining it. The protagonist, Hans Heinrich Richter, is an antihero in that he must often abide wrongdoing to do a greater good. Many of the historically curious are baffled at how Germany, a cultured and advanced country, could come under the control of what Churchill called a monstrous tyranny. This novel provides an insight.”  ~Steve Goodrich

Pablo Zaragoza’s historical fiction novel, The Reluctant Nazi, is one of the best war stories written in years. It tells how the Nazis confiscated the gold, diamonds, and precious works of art from occupied countries in Europe; these valuables ended up in the hands of the Nazi elite. It was impossible to put this book down without feeling the terror, cowardice, and immense brutality that the Nazis imposed on all of the countries they conquered. Woven through these horrific acts is the tale of bravery of a man and his woman who became disillusioned with Hitler and the SS. The Reluctant Nazi is balanced and detailed, a heartrending work of art by this award-winning author, Pablo Zaragoza. ~ Amado Vizoso

Reviewed by Review by Grant Leishman for Readers’ Favorite
5 Stars – Congratulations on your 5-star review!

The Reluctant Nazi by Pablo Omar Zaragoza is a fictional insider’s view of the evil that was Adolf Hitler and the German Nazi Party. Hans Reinhard Richter, an accountant by profession, was an early supporter of the idea of National Socialism and the charismatic leader of the Nazi party, Adolf Hitler. He was quick to join the Blackshirts and immerse himself in the rhetoric and politics that promised a reanimated Germany, following the deprivations imposed on the country by the Treaty of Versailles, at the end of the First World War. After all, hadn’t Germany been treated harshly by the treaty and in Hitler, Hans saw a man who could lead a floundering country back to prosperity. As Germany began its moves into Austria, Czechoslovakia, France, Poland, Russia et al, Hans found himself an important cog in the party’s war machine. He was given the responsibility of creating depositories for the immense treasures the Germans were pillaging from the countries they invaded, especially the gold and priceless works of art. Quickly gaining rank and power within the SS and marrying the woman sent by the Gestapo to keep an eye on his accounting and honesty, he began to understand the depravity of his military bosses and particularly the mad evil of the man he once revered, Adolf Hitler. As he and his second wife Irma siphoned off gold for their own personal Swiss bank accounts, Hans began actively seeking to undermine the worst of the projects the Nazis were contemplating, such as bio-warfare, jet rockets, and most importantly, the atomic bomb.

The Reluctant Nazi was a particularly fascinating read because it portrayed both sides of the German soldier, embodied within one person, in Hans Richter. Author Pablo Omar Zaragoza did an excellent job of creating a character that initially displayed many of the character traits that one would describe as evil. Initially, he has no compunction about killing mercilessly and appears, to all intents and purposes, to be the perfect Nazi. He even is prepared to steal from his own masters to feather his own nest. However, when he realizes the extremes to which the regime is prepared to go–the genocide, the determination to rid Europe of the Jewish people, and the crazy military decisions–a moral line has been crossed within his mind and within his faith, so he begins to work tirelessly to thwart the plans of the Party. This complexity of character is what made Hans both so detestable and yet so appealing as a character, and the author can consider that a real triumph.

The story is fast-moving, tense, and at times frightening and yet is beautifully softened by the relationships between Hans, his first wife, and then his second wife, both of whom had been sent to spy on his activities. I particularly enjoyed that Hans was crystal clear that he loved his country. He was indeed a proud German but if he was to stop this madness, he knew he had to act contrary to his masters’ bidding, putting himself and his family in harm’s way. Clearly, the author has done his research and to this history buff the locations, the timings, and the factual events surrounding the fictional character were both believable and recognizable. The author’s thoughtful and liberal use of poems and quotes throughout the story was a bonus in my opinion. I thoroughly enjoyed and can highly recommend this book.

Reader's Favorite 5 Stars