By  on December 15, 2006

It seemed like a rural idyll. Mireille Marokvia's sheep and goat had found a piece of land where they liked to graze; it was, however, some distance from her house, and they refused to go there alone. To summon her, the goat would first knock on the door of the house. If that didn't work, it would deliberately go to stand on some high ground that clearly could be seen from the second story of the dwelling, where its mistress spent most of her time. The goat would then proceed to make its hair stand on end and slowly puff itself up. Worried the animal was ill, Marokvia would come out at once. The ploy worked every time. The goat would then deflate itself, and the trio would go off to the pasture, accompanied by Marokvia's orange cat.

Marokvia's house was in Bergheim, in an isolated part of the German countryside, surrounded by forest. But, animal antics aside, it wasn't all a Thoreau-like idyll. World War II was raging, and she had moved there because her town, Stuttgart, was under heavy bombardment. She had to share her house with the family of a Nazi officer who was away at the front. And a local Nazi official had taken an interest in her, finding her presence there suspicious and insisting she report to him weekly.

"Sins of the Innocent" (Unbridled Books) is Marokvia's memoir of how she spent World War II. Marokvia was French; she had married a German man, Artur Marokvia, referred to as Abel in the book, whom she met in Paris. He hated Germany and particularly the Nazis, and she credits him with making her understand how horrible their regime was. "He was very intelligent, and he saw things that other people didn't," she says. "But many people in Germany knew what Hitler was. They were scared. There was a lot of fear; you did not dare not follow the rules. Some were interested, and some gained. They knew how to seduce the people, and many people believed. We had tried to punish Germany too much after the first World War. Not only the Germans were guilty for the first World War. That really is what provoked Hitler."

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