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A Child's WWII Memoirs from Occupied Austria

Part I: Nazi Occupation

U.S. Navy veteran and first-generation immigrant, A. P. Hofleitner, captures his grandfather’s incredible World War II experiences of growing up in central Austria under Nazi occupation. 


Heil Hitler, Herr Göd is the first of a two-part novel based on the true-life memoirs of the author’s grandfather. A six-year-old boy born and raised during wartime, Richerl, finds himself surrounded by a confusing and complicated conflict. His childlike innocence provides a new and sometimes humorous perspective on the time, which contrasts to the otherwise tense and horrific reality retold in the novel. With his father at war somewhere on the Eastern Front and having lost his mother in a bombing raid early in the conflict, his aunt and uncle, Resi and Peppi, are tasked with raising the boy. Herr Göd, a staunch Nazi who also happens to be Resi’s uncle, further complicates the boy’s family situation. Peppi’s work at the local factory brings him into close contact with the SS and Jewish prisoners on site. His internal struggle and guilt, driven by the atrocities he sees committed every day by his own countrymen, culminates into a daring and unwitting rescue under the cover of an allied bombing raid.


The author brilliantly weaves the collection of short stories and experiences left behind by his grandfather into one contiguous story that takes place over a handful of days towards the end of Nazi occupation in Austria. The main characters are not heroes of their times, nor are they the traditional villains or victims often portrayed in similar works— they are everyday people trying to make the best of a host of new and unbelievable challenges. From riveting and tense, to heartbreaking and haunting, the reader will be absorbed in Heil Hitler, Herr Göd and transported into this Austrian village, experiencing never before told stories. This unforgettable portrait of family, war, and survival will compel the reader to question how they would have acted, had they been in the shoes of these real-life characters.

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