THE STORY BEHIND MARGARET
Warning: contains spoilers.
In 1971, Michael Elkins, an American journalist and the BBC’s correspondent in Jerusalem, published Forged in Fury, first in the US and later in the UK. Forged in Fury is not an easy book to read and when first published caused considerable controversy. In it, Elkins revealed the existence of DIN, a secretive group of post second world war Jews sworn to take revenge on Nazis.
In Margaret Leaving, I place Margaret at the center of one of the events Elkins describes as being orchestrated by DIN: the kidnapping and assassination of SS Obersturmführer Konrad Schumann.
Elkins was a member of the blandly named Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor of the CIA, that operated in Germany immediately after World War Two. This is where Elkins must have acquired some of the information relayed in Forged in Fury. Later, in a kibbutz in Galilee, he met Malachi Wald, the founder of DIN. Wald persuaded Elkins to write about what he knew of the Jewish resistance and the revenge missions carried out in the years following Germany’s defeat. It has been intimated that Elkins was even more closely connected with DIN than his well-documented involvement with the OSS.
The Sam Bourne book The Final Reckoning also tells the story of the Jewish avengers, as a work of fiction.
Margaret Leaving is more concerned with the way our perception of history changes than with the action, thriller approach of The Final Reckoning or the journalistic reporting of Forged in Fury. History appears to shimmer and change, depending on where you are standing. It is incomplete and tantalizing and yet supremely important, because our history is our culture. It’s who we are. And also it’s not who we are, because we are newly created.
History is murky and that is exactly the sort of murkiness I needed for my plot, a mystery to be contemplated if not solved.