Author's Words on Lukas Armbrecht

29.11.2014 08:30

Who is Lukas Armbrecht?

Lukas Armbrecht is an important character of the book 'Whispering Birches'. He is Prussian coming from a region of Germany, known for its ability to produce warriors. Lukas is related to a noble family, but the impression is that he is not the main line.

Like Franz, he ends up in Auschwitz as a guard due to war injuries. Unlike Franz, his injury was not through military action but rather through an accident in the administration section. We hear that Lukas is actually a coward at heart. He is also an opportunist, taking advantage of wartime conditions to satisfy his sexual desires. Through this opportunism, Lukas ends up in a position where he witnesses the work of Adolf Eichmann and Dieter Wisliceny, two people who manage the transports. In contrast to Franz, Lukas cannot see anything wrong with the camp. He chillingly regrets not having finished the job and holds this view throughout.

He relates his story later in life when he is haunted by his past. He refuses to deny the Holocaust and agrees to relate his events to the BBC program run by Gerald Angel. However, we are not clear why he does so. Is he just trying to clear his name or is he truly repentant? Lukas is important in that he gives the perspective of a guard and shows how it was ordinary people manning the camps. After the war, he is the respectable Human Resources manager, sensitive to people crying in his presence. He is like any other manager and attends meetings that resemble the corporate meetings of today. This is for me an essential point to understand. The camps are portrayed as horror spots with lunatics for managers. In reality, the camps were managed by ordinary individuals and it should be a warning for anybody to trust the resilience of our institutions. People just doing their jobs is an excuse, but unfortunately it came very close to the truth.

Who was Adolf Eichmann?

Lukas works as adjutant to Otto Adolf Eichmann. This man was responsible for organizing the transports. He was known as a particularly cynical man who was prepared to barter human lives and understood exactly how to subdue the Jewish communities over Europe. At the end of the war he secured passage to Argentina but was kidnapped by Mossad to stand trial in Israel. He was executed in 1962. Please click here for more.

How would you describe his relationship with Franz?

Lukas is Franz's best friend. He contrasts with Franz in that he feels nothing for the inmates.

What is Lukas's religious significance?

Lukas has a mysterious role which will become clearer in the second book. He is a pagan character, although he is also one of the four Apostles of the series. Otherwise, we see in him the distrust and inbred hatred of the Jewish peoples that characterized Hitler's ideology.

What inspired the character Lukas Armbrecht?

Lukas has some similarities to Oskar Grönig who was interviewed for the BBC program by Lawrence Rees. This man refused to deny the Holocaust. At the same time he did not see himself as responsible for the acts. Oskar worked in the Currency Department and in real life more closely resembles another character Otto Grün in 'Smoke over the Birches'. It should be added that in the story neither Otto or Lukas represent the real opinions or acts of Oskar Grönig.


Oskar Grönig      Adolf Eichmann    Dieter Wisliceny