Enemy at the Door - Season 1

Famously, the British Isles held out against invasion by Nazi Germany during WWII – but the Channel Islands – stoutly and firmly British and English-speaking – were taken over and occupied for five years. In fact, the German occupation of the Isle of Guernsey lasted two days longer than Nazi Germany itself, an interesting bit of trivia pointed out in one of the skimpy extras included at the very end of this boxed set. Ever since, the example of the Channel Islands has served as a ‘what if’, for historians and novelists pondering what it would have been like if the Battle of Britain had been lost and the Germans had successfully invaded and occupied Great Britain. How would the citizens of the British Isles behaved under occupation, and how would they have been treated by the occupying Germans; as brutally as the Polish and Czechoslovakians, or with kid gloves as the Danes? What sort of resistance, and what degree of collaboration might have taken place, and how would the tension between those two reactions have played out? “Enemy at the Door” explores all of that through an interesting handful of characters. This is an ensemble cast, headed by the earnest and responsible medical man, Doctor Philip Martel, his wife and outspoken daughter Clare, his neighbor, the wheel-chair bound Mrs. Porteous and her son Peter, the most inept but well-intentioned fictional spy of World War II. In opposition – sometimes, and sometimes more like an ally – is the head of the civil occupation authority, Major Richter. Major Richter is a decent man, with his own sense of honor but with the responsibility of keeping the island firmly under control, and no hesitation in doing what he sees as his duty. He is assisted in this by the commander of German troops on the island, Major Friedel. Neither Friedel nor Richter are particularly dedicated Nazis, or is Lt. Kluge of the Army Field Police. Kluge is a policeman, first and foremost, and the other two are career old soldiers, united first by their responsibilities and secondly in their detestation of the fourth member of the local German command, Hauptsturmfuhrer Reinicke of the SS.

Series one opens with the imminent arrival of the Germans, and through a story arc of 13 episodes follows the island community for roughly the next two years. Doctor Martel, his family and his friends, patients and neighbors adjust painfully to having gone in the space of a week from a relatively free, open and democratic society to one of incomprehensible restrictions and limitations. What is the proper response, given the circumstances of occupation, to a demand to have HG Wells’ books removed from the public library? To having one’s automobile confiscated, or one’s tenants removed from a comfortable farmhouse to an unsanitary, tumble-down cottage? What about turning to the black market, when shortages of food, medicine and coal begin to bite – or worse, threaten lives? How far, exactly, should one go, in order to keep a modicum of peace and protect one’s family and community? How far to go in pursuing those who break various laws enacted by the occupation authority – and what happens when first one young Guernsey woman and then another have romantic interludes with German soldiers? (Both romances end badly, and not just for the woman involved) How far can resistance go – before it boomerangs, harming those whom it is intended to inspire… and yet, to not resist in the face of monstrous evil is almost as soul-killing. How – and where do we stand? That is the question posed in almost every episode of “Enemy at the Door” and it soon becomes very clear that the answer is not simple or easily arrived at. Perhaps the best assessment is that of one of my own characters, in an excerpt from Book 2 of the Adelsverein Trilogy:
“We are not as like to each, indistinguishable as ants in a nest. Men of honor may yet take different roads for good and honest reasons … In the end, what matters is that an honorable man does in fact act with honor. He does not sit and do nothing at all.”

Enemy At the Door is available from Acorn On Line. There are only a few sparse extras: a little information about the occupation of Guernsey, and a promo for “Island at War” – a more current take on the German occupation of the Channel Islands, but much less satisfactory as a series.

Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer and member of the Independent Authors Guild who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her current book project – The Adelsverein Trilogy is also available through Amazon.com. More about her books is at her website www.celiahayes.com.

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