"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
"Tell your story... until your past stops tearing your present apart."
WRITING A NEW SOUTH AFRICA - RADIO 4
"It is the responsibility of the living to heal the dead. Otherwise their unfinished business will continue to play out in our fears, phobias and illnesses.’”
"The intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way, an artist says a hard thing in a simple way.”
Charles Bukowski, Poet
1st February 1945. Berlin.
A ten-year-old girl loses her mother on the platform as they scramble to catch a train out of the city.
2nd May 1945. Italy.
A fifty-two-year-old Wehrmacht General straightens his overcoat and prepares to surrender.
3rd August 1987. Sydney.
A twenty-two-year-old woman is welcomed into a courtyard filled with prisoners and, for the first time in her life, finally feels at home.
In My Grandfather’s Shadow is the story of three generations of one family, knotted together and woven into an episode of history that continues to appal and fascinate in equal measure. A rare confluence of memoir, psychology and a historical detective story, we see the author's determination to unravel her own family’s experiences of the Second World War and to explore the ways that inherited guilt and trauma can leave scars across generations.
‘This is an absolutely extraordinary book. In peeling back the layers of her family history, Angela Findlay reveals a vast, hidden European story that few nations have ever been brave enough to confront.’
Keith Lowe, author of Savage Continent, The Fear and the Freedom and Prisoners of History
‘A page turner of the highest calibre! Meticulously researched, searingly honest and beautifully written, this timely book is a salient reminder of how intergenerational relationships connect threads between past and present.
The author skillfully excavates her grandfather’s life putting the family puzzle together piece by piece to create a forensic and fascinating portrait of the past.
Marina Cantacuzino, author and founder of The Forgiveness Project
‘This is a moving and powerful memoir that illuminates the extraordinary power of unprocessed trauma as it passes through generations, and how when it is faced it can be healed.’
Julia Samuel, author of Every Family Has A Story, Grief Works and This Too Shall Pass
"Can we as individuals untangle ourselves from a past that binds us to the suffering and deeds of our predecessors? This profound question forms the basis of this remarkable memoir and powerful investigation into the individual personal cost that results from wider history, A must read…” Caroline Sanderson, ‘Editor’s Choice' in The Bookseller
‘A compelling journey through guilt and shame that asks fundamental and painful questions about the extent of a family member’s participation in one of the biggest crimes of the 20th century.’
Derek Niemann, author of A Nazi in the Family.
‘An unflinching exploration of shame and pain passed between generations. This is a powerful and important book which will change the way in which we understand ourselves.’
Emma Craigie, author of Hitler’s Last Day
‘Seeking to untangle the complexities of her own life, the author goes in search of a WW2 German general - the grandfather she never knew. The outcome is a powerful and at times painfully honest story that will touch readers at many levels.’
Julia Boyd, author of Travellers in the Third Reich and A Village in the Third Reich
‘In My Grandfather’s Shadow is an extraordinary book. Beautifully written, poignant and acutely perceptive; endlessly thought-provoking and challenging. From the nature of wickedness to the phenomenon of epigenetics, it is also an extremely powerful and different way of seeing the vast and terrible tides of history.’
Sinclair Mckay, author of Dresden: The Fire and the Darkness, The Secret Life of Bletchley Park
‘In My Grandfather’s Shadow’ is a brave, powerful, honest, thoughtful and meticulously researched book. I enjoyed it immensely. It has made me think very hard about intergenerational trauma transfer and explains so much about Germany, and perhaps, in the current context, Russia.’
General Sir Richard Shirreff, former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe and author of War with Russia
‘What do you do if you are British and German and tormented by a vague sense of guilt which is ruining your life? The answer, in Angela Findlay’s case, is you track down your WWII German general grandfather, who waged war on Russia. In a fast-moving story told with great feeling and solid scholarship, Angela Findlay confronts questions of good and evil, generational guilt and reconciliation… This is a fine book: moving, serious and told with compelling verve. The moral is that honest remembrance of the past helps people live better futures.’
Marcus Ferrar, author of A Foot in Both Camps: a German Past for Better and for Worse
‘In this gripping account of a long personal journey to confront a difficult family history, Findlay explores the effects of trauma, reveals the healing power of art, and affords deep insights into contemporary memorial culture.’
Bill Niven, Professor Emeritus in Contemporary German History at Nottingham Trent University and author of Facing the Nazi Past
'A brave and profound book which asks difficult questions about how we live with those parts of history which we would rather forget. Angela Findlay is tireless in her search for the truth - and for a reconciliation process which acknowledges that there can be no neat conclusions. Many readers will find this book informative, healing and inspiring.'
Alice Jolly, author of Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile and Dead Babies and Seaside Towns
'A magnificent achievement. So honest, so thorough and so well written, both Angela’s search for truth and this book are about the deepest possible experience of transmitted collective/personal trauma.'
Pamela Steiner, EdD, Senior Fellow, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard School of Public Health and author of Collective Trauma and the Armenian Genocide
'In My Grandfather’s Shadow is utterly compelling, elegantly written and extremely brave. The beauty of the book is how absolutely clearly it shows the depth and breadth of the author’s research; the care and sensitivity she has brought to bear on the most difficult of subjects. One of the most powerful books I have ever read. ’
Katie Jarvis, Cotswold Life
‘I found too many parallels in your book to mention [but] I want to thank you for the years of effort you must have spent coming to terms with your history. It has somehow relieved me of the urge to replicate your work, and instead, through reading your book, I feel a bit of that heaviness has been lifted from my soul.’
Reader of ‘In My Grandfather’s Shadow’
‘Too much to tell, suffice it to say that your book, read 75 years late has brought Revelation, Understanding, Forgiveness, Healing, Relief and so much more!’
Reader of ‘In My Grandfather’s Shadow’
For as long as I can remember I have written. It started with letters, diaries, travel journals and notebooks. Writing was my way to document, explore, question, understand and share. Words and texts gradually seeped into my artworks until the medium of writing replaced my paints and palette knife as my required mode of expression.
BLOGS - WWW.ANGELAFINDLAY.BLOG
Monthly responses to current affairs relating to my range of interests and expertise in order to navigate pathways towards positive societal change:
- the British Criminal Justice System and art’s role as an alternative to punishment
- World War Two cultures of remembrance in Britain and Germany and the roles of art, apology, atonement and forgiveness in individuals and society
- the transgenerational transmission of unresolved trauma, wrongdoing, shame and how to heal the scars of the past.
Click on the dissertation titles below to read them