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The Unwanted: an excerpt



It’s September 1939. War has just begun. The Nazis have begun an extermination programme – against their own children.

Late summer. The first day of September, to be precise. And, to a young girl about to die, time, running out, matters above everything.

In the past, on a fine day such as this, this girl, now hunched over her notepad in the back seat of a BMW, might have visited a museum in Berlin. She might have crossbred flowers with her grandmother, studied her precious textbooks, or hiked through her native Bavarian forest looking for plant samples. But this first day of September in 1939 is an unusual day. At 04:45 this very morning, the German army under General von Rundstedt and General von Bock have invaded Poland. World War II has begun.

Does she even care, this girl? She’s only 14 years old. Mind on lock-down, does she notice the forests passing by on either side of her grandfather’s car? The war is distant. Turbulence at home is daily. Does she hear the radio playing, already touting the magnificence of Der Fuhrer’s lightning strike? Does she hear her grandfather’s satisfied grunt – “Hitler is making Germany unrivalled again” – or catch his eye as he darts a worried look toward the female creature whose blood he denies is akin to his? No. She’s too intent on her notepad to notice anything. Writing with a manic intensity that neither of her male attendants understands, she’s bent over her paper as if some weight is forcing her down, never taking her eyes off her work, keeping her creations a secret from the world.

Esh-vie-zet-vie-geh-vie. Esh-vie-zet-vie-geh-vie.”

She mumbles this rhythmic chant over and over, “Esh-vie-zet-vie-geh-vie”, until her grandfather, Friedrich, can no longer tolerate it and turns the knob of the radio to raise the sound, to drown out her existence.

She’s crazy, this one, her grandfather is thinking. Not of my blood. I’ve a clear conscience about this. Not of my blood.

Her name is Hana Ziegler. And though she does have a family, grandparents, and two uncles, Edward and Walter, she’s very much alone in the world. Mother deceased, father an unknown, she has borne her existence through her intellect, her curiosity, her studies of a world that her family, apparently, doesn’t want her to inhabit much longer.


Her lone suitcase sits at her feet, her few possessions thrown in at the last minute. Papers, schoolbooks, gnawed pencils, an eraser, and a sharpener. The sun had barely risen three hours earlier when she was rousted from her bed by her family’s maid. Money isn’t the problem for the Zieglers. Hana is.

In Peter Clenott’s new mystery thriller, The Unwanted, 14-year-old Hana Ziegler is being driven by her grandfather and her psychiatrist to a euthanasia centre; 16-year-old Silke Hartenstein graces the covers of Nazi propaganda magazines; Avi Kreisler is a Munich police detective condemned to Dachau; David McAuliffe’s patrician father wants his son elected the first Catholic president of the United States. In The Unwanted, in the aftermath of war, revenge brings these four people together in ways unimaginable.

Warning: don’t skip ahead to the last page.

  • The book can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Level Best Books.

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