Read The Draughtsman by Robert Lautner Online


Speak out for the fate of millions or turn a blind eye? We all have choices.‘Absolutely exceptional. So beautifully written, with precision and wisdom and real emotional acuity … A remarkable achievement’ STEPHEN KELMAN, author of Pigeon English1944, Germany. Ernst Beck’s new job marks an end to months of unemployment. Working for Erfurt’s most prestigious engineering firmSpeak out for the fate of millions or turn a blind eye? We all have choices.‘Absolutely exceptional. So beautifully written, with precision and wisdom and real emotional acuity … A remarkable achievement’ STEPHEN KELMAN, author of Pigeon English1944, Germany. Ernst Beck’s new job marks an end to months of unemployment. Working for Erfurt’s most prestigious engineering firm, Topf & Sons, means he can finally make a contribution to the war effort, provide for his beautiful wife, Etta, and make his parents proud. But there is a price.Ernst is assigned to the firm’s smallest team – the Special Ovens Department. Reporting directly to Berlin his role is to annotate plans for new crematoria that are deliberately designed to burn day and night. Their destination: the concentration camps. Topf’s new client: the SS.As the true nature of his work dawns on him, Ernst has a terrible choice to make: turning a blind eye will keep him and Etta safe, but that’s little comfort if staying silent amounts to collusion in the death of thousands.This bold and uncompromising work of literary fiction shines a light on the complex contradictions of human nature and examines how deeply complicit we can become in the face of fear....

Title : The Draughtsman
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780008126728
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 496 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Draughtsman Reviews

  • Susan
    2019-03-03 11:25

    Ernst Beck is a young man, recently married to Etta. He cannot believe that his beautiful new wife, Etta, whose parents are much wealthier than his own, has chosen him. It is 1944 and the couple live in Erfun, a small German town, which almost feels as though it has escaped the war. Ernst missed conscription while at University and the fighting seems somewhere far distant. In fact, Ernst’s only real problem is that he does have not have a job, and has been unemployed for months, despite training to become a skilled draughtsman.Then, suddenly, it seems as though his life is taking an upward turn. Ernst finds work at a prestigious engineering firm, which means that Etta can give up her waitressing job and they can pay their outstanding rent. Ernst is a somewhat shy and tentative young man, whose father has drummed into him that he should not push himself forward. So, when he meets the assertive, Hans Klein, Director of Operations, of the ‘Special Ovens’ department, he does not question the fact that so many furnaces and incinerators are required by the SS. Before he realises it, Ernst is visiting camps he was only aware of as frightening names – Buchenwald, Auschwitz. Meanwhile, Etta is not as thrilled at his finding work as he had hoped.This is a beautifully written novel about a normal young man in wartime, who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances. Like so many at that time, he was just hoping he could get through the war intact. However, when he is unable to ignore the reality of what part he is playing in events, he has to make some very difficult choices. I really enjoyed this book. It is not particularly a new subject – there have been other novels about people caught up in the machinery of the holocaust, but I really enjoyed the characters and found this a moving read, which was very well written.

  • Mel
    2019-03-05 07:59

    This book is a 3.5 stars rounded up.Foreward: I studied history, specializing in the Holocaust, in school so this may get very fact based and very long.This is a book I would have LOVED to have my University Holocaust Lit professor read. My professor, on the first day of class, flat out say that we didn't use the 'N word' in his class (he meant Nazi) and that if we wanted to refer to them, we had to call them what they really were, which was Germans. From that moment on I took nothing he said seriously and learned to spit feed him the answers he was looking for, rather than what I thought. To him, all German's were nazi's and all Germans were to blame for the Holocaust. I think that this book is something that would have been very eye opening for him because this book proves that not all Germans were to blame for the Holocaust.In this we follow Ernst Beck and his wife Etta. Ernst needs to provide for his family and gets work at a factory called Topf and Sons. His job is to take designs and transcribe them into something that someone who doesn't know designs can read. Their factory gets contracts from the SS and are the factory that supplied the SS with the ovens they used in the camps. At one point Ernst receives a design for a very terrible oven, one that would have been very horrible had it ever hit production, and he has to decide whether he is going to sit by and let himself be a part of this, or whether he is going to do something about it. First thing, I love that this is loosely historically accurate. This factory really existed. The oven that is designed that would have been catastrophic (more so than what the Holocaust already was) was actually something someone designed. The rest is mostly fiction, but the author seemed to want to point out that the excuse "just doing our jobs" did not have to be the norm for everyone, and that there was always a way to do something. There were people "just doing their jobs" that could have made a big impact had they not done their job. I like that this is what the author seemed to want to portray (in some form) but I think that the presentation was not all there. The job Ernst Beck is doing was not actually that important. He himself was not building or designing the ovens, just transcribing and copying them. Without him, things would still have progressed. I think the real character that portrays this, and portrays it well, is his boss, Hans Klein. He was such an unlikeable character, but every moment I felt something was off about him. He is the character that really shows that there is a point where people need to step up and say something just stop doing what everyone tells them to do.I felt this book was a little long. I enjoyed reading it, but it was slow. There were things that could have been cut, could have been shortened, and the book still would have packed the punch it did. The writing was good, albeit a little weird. The author seems to have a huge hatred of commas. Any sentence with a comma. Had a period instead. It was very. Very. Annoying at first but it grew on me and I stopped noticing. I'm going to come full circle now and talk about my favourite part of the book, and that was the fact that it shows the impact that this had on every day Germans during the war. I am always going to be of the belief that not every German knew about the camps, and if they did they didn't know what was going on there. Most Germans in this book, even the ones in the factory providing the SS with the ovens, assume that most people in the camps were dying from disease. I feel like that is a pretty good representation of the kind of things that normal every day Germans would have assumed, whether out of ignorance or out of denial. This book shows the impact on the food, on money, on families. Women all over with no husbands, starving children in the streets with parents bombed to death. No access to goods. War is hard on all sides, but sometimes more so for the citizens in the losing nations, and I think that's shown pretty well in this.I don't want to yammer on for 10,000 words so I will end this here. I do recommend it, I really do, but it's not your typical WWII book. It's not about the Holocaust and the camps, it's not about the actual war, it really felt like a pretty typical literary setting. I wouldn't read this expecting the same things you generally get from a WWII historical fiction book, but I do think it's definitely worth a read.

  • Zoe Hall
    2019-03-05 11:00

    As some people may have gauged by now, I really relish books set during World War II and this book is no exception. I often hear the words 'beautifully tragic' bandied around but this is what I feel this book is all about. It is Germany, 1944. Ernst has been unemployed for a long time when a job offer arises that seems too good to be true. It entails a new life of prosperity, including a house Ernst could have only dreamed of owning. A new life for him and his wife, Etta. A draughstman, ordered to annotate plans for ovens. Seems innocent enough and Ernst certainly does notseem to understand the bigger picture. These aren'tjust ovens, though. They are crematoria. Crematoria for concentration camps. Ernst works for the SS. The discourse that surrounds whether the SS really did turn a blind eye or were merely acting on orders is something I find incredibly interesting and I was delighted to find references to Milgram's (1974)Obedience to Authority experiment. If Ernst turns a blind eye from the truth, he and Etta will be safe. Staying silent results in the death of thousands. How far would a person go in the face of fear of death?'A war is the vanishing of tiny things. A thimble for a pail. That is how they kill us. The people in the maps'. An astonishing read. Beautifully written and tragically important. I would highly recommend this book. 'That is history. The loudest shout to the mad comes from the gutter'.

  • Mandy
    2019-03-03 08:59

    4.5* Really interesting read with some historical facts. First book I have read on WW2 from a German pov and it was beautifully written. The ending really brought home the horror. What would you do?

  • Jo
    2019-03-15 09:16

    I won this in the giveaways in exchange for an honest review. It's 1940s Germany and Ernst has finally gained employment with the firm of Topf. He's now part of the Special Ovens Department and his job is to draw newly improved equipment for the SS. At first Ernst is quite naive and believes the propaganda about the high body count in the camps due to typhus. But the more he learns, the more he begins to question what's really happening. I didn't expect to like this as I'm not a huge fan of WW2 fiction but it was a very good study of human psychology and poses the question of 'What would you do?'. This is definitely a book to make you think and it will linger with me for the next few days.

  • Heather Hyde
    2019-03-04 15:15

    Some slightly unusual dialogue, almost as if the Germans are speaking stilted English to each other, but the storyline itself is very good and based on the truth that although it was never put into production, it was the desire that a continuous oven for mass use should be designed for use in the camps and the implications this has for the main characters living and working for a company working with the SS when realisation dawns.

  • Windy
    2019-03-16 14:09

    Excellent book telling an uncomfortable story but the narrator draws empathy from the reader

  • Roman Clodia
    2019-03-17 15:12

    There has been much written about the extent to which ordinary Germans colluded with or turned a blind eye to the brutal realities of the Third Reich and here Lautner revisits this theme through the eyes of Ernst Beck, an engineer in the chillingly-named 'Special Ovens Department'. He works with the SS, he visits Auschwitz and Buchenwald and despite his (view spoiler)[(secretly Jewish) (hide spoiler)] wife telling him what the ovens are being used for, he tries to hide the impact of his work from himself - till he's finally forced to face up to it.Lautner revisits questions of complicity and assistance, issues of 'I was only doing my job and following orders' versus the people who refused, who said 'I shall not' even if those were their last words. Important issues, of course, not just for Nazi Germany but also for today. Despite all the good moral and ethical stuff going on here, this feels like a book which is re-hashing old ground - too much has been researched, discussed and written about what Hannah Arendt termed 'the banality of evil' for this book to be adding anything. And by the time Beck does finally face up to things, it seems it's all far too easy for him to make a difference...So a worthy book and an important topic - but best for readers who know little, or have never really thought, about the people involved in the bureaucracy of the Holocaust.Review from an ARC from Amazon Vine

  • Thelastwordreview
    2019-03-02 16:15

    On the cover of Robert Lautner’s new novel The Draughtsman it says ‘We all have choices’ but under Nazi Germany and when you have been chosen to work for the SS do you have a choice? Can you speak out for others and face being found out with the dire consequences for you and your family. It is 1944 and for Nazi Germany the net is closing in as the allies fight their way to Germany’s front door and for Ernst Beck a young unemployed engineer he just wants to work and earn some money for him and his wife Etta so that they can start a family when the war finally ends with a dream of eventually having their own home. Then the offer of a job arrives from Erfut’s prestigious engineering firm Topf & Sons. Now for Ernst he can now feel like a man again and start providing for his wife and make his parents proud. Sometimes though not everything is as it seems and for Ernst he will soon find out what the SS have really been doing. On his first day Ernst joins the Special Ovens Department designing new ovens that can withstand burning all day and night at special ‘prison camps’ at Buchenwald and Auschwitz but as visits to both camps including a dangerous situation it soon dawns on Ernst that he has not been told the truth about what these ovens are for and the story of executing criminals and those that have died of disease cannot surely amount to why these ‘special’ ovens are being designed and why the secrecy as he has to report direct to Berlin. For Ernst and Etta there are some trappings that go with the job as he is a special employee. But soon the real truth comes to Ernst that his employers have been colluding with the SS and now he has a choice to make does he risk his life and that of his beautiful wife Etta or does he start telling the truth that these ovens are part of the Crematoria for the concentration camps and he will have a hand in the Holocaust if he remains silent. The terrible burden ways heavy for Ernst as he weighs up the consequences of being complicit. What would become of his wife and even his parents. There now worrying signs that there is no escaping for Ernst.The Draughtsman is an incredible achievement as Lautner explores how the mind plays out when suddenly life is generous while others struggle and how could he possibly give this new lease of life up. The one aspect of the story is how the war is going for Germany and how close the allies are now as the last months of the war begin. Germany is losing the war there will be heavy price to pay for those found guilty of being compliant and complicit in the Holocaust. This is a dark and at times harrowing read as the themes involved but it is a compelling read and one that will ask many questions of the reader. After you have read this novel ask yourself in a country that was fearful when neighbour turned against neighbour what would you do? This is a novel that should not be treated lightly. The authors note at the end of the book testifies to this. Without doubt a full five star novel. Thank you to The Borough Press for the advanced review copy.

  • Ailsa
    2019-03-10 14:28

    I enjoy stories set in the World Wars - the significance of them is undeniable and I think it's important to keep alive all the heartbreaking aspects of the wars: "Lest we forget." I came into The Draughtsman with high hopes that this would be a book I could recommend to people as another great snapshot that captured emotions and also, given that it's told from the point of view of a man working for the S.S., a different point of view. It let me down a bit.While The Draughtsman is an interesting story, I felt like it took a long time to get going. The author's style also grated on me quite a lot, with his frequent use of incomplete sentences. While it certainly shows the uncertainty of life in Germany during the final months of WWII, and the horrors of concentration camps and bombings, it didn't hit my feelings as much as I had hoped. It's not a standout. It's not that it's a poor story, but I wanted to be blown away, and I wasn't. It might be my own fault for coming in to this with high expectations, but I was let down by The Draughtsman. Interesting book set in Germany during the last few months of World War II, but there are better books with similar settings that I would recommend first. This one gets 5/10 from me.

  • Pam
    2019-03-22 11:11

    I have read books on WW2 from a lot of different characters' perspectives: French women whose home is taken over by an SS captain, the people who hid others from Nazis, people who were hidden, people who pretended to be something other than Jewish and hid in plain sight, etc etc. This was from the perspective of a young German man whose first job after university as a draughtsman ends up being working on plans for the oven used to kill people at the camps. It was interesting to me to see how a person can rationalize what they are doing because as the other says, it's not one big event but happens slowly, bit by bit. I enjoyed it.

  • Helen Carolan
    2019-03-21 14:27

    I really wanted to like this one as the idea sounded so good. Sadly this lacked something. Don't know whether this was translated from another language or whether the authors English isn't quite up to scratch, but he seemed to have difficulty getting the story across. Here a young man finds himself having to make a difficult decision after getting work with a firm who supply ovens to the concentration camps in Germany in the dying days of the second world war. Should he tell the world what he knows or keep quiet to protect his family.Slow and the author seemed to repeat himself far too often.

  • Надежда Сикарева
    2019-03-05 16:23

    Nice, a book "From the other side", not like books I used to, related to this topic. But... The fact, that it is not like the books, written by the soviet authours, most of whom saw the war in reality, this book for me is like juice, mixed with water, while I prefer whole juice. Good to drink, no strong tastes, but not awesome.

  • Matthew Cobb
    2019-03-21 14:09

    I think this book works despite the very tricky subject matter. The author uses lots of short sentences full of meaning which makes it easy to read but also treats the story with respect at the same time. Not an easy feat.

  • janetandjohn
    2019-02-21 14:15

    A brilliant read begging the question "what would you do?". Set in WW2 in Germany, a young married couple are tested to extremes when the truth about what he does for a living is revealed. Heartstopping in several places.

  • Tracey
    2019-03-21 10:11

    Thought provoking - what would you do....?

  • Catherine Copley
    2019-03-11 14:14


  • Mark Renaud
    2019-02-26 09:22

    A thought provoking book - Characters are very real and very human.A reflection on complicity with evil in all its subtle forms.A page-turning read.

  • N Silva
    2019-03-18 14:20

    4.5 stars.This is a very well-written book that I enjoyed reading. I am always interested in questions of people doing the right or wrong thing in times of duress. What would I do? Why do people do evil things? Why do people become part of the machinery? This book examines these types of questions in an interesting manner. The plot, the characters, character development are all good. The Author's Note at the end was enlightening to help me both understand the story and understand the context of Nazi Germany. And even though this is a work of fiction, I learned a bit more about World War II. Lastly, I found the style of writing to be very thoughtful and unfold in a natural way.

  • Raquel
    2019-02-27 14:02

    This is a really unique and emotional perspective on a historical fiction work of WWII. Check out my full review here:

  • Mary
    2019-03-24 09:29

    excellent WWII historical fiction. Linear plot. easy to follow and get lost in. throughly enjoyed it!