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Prisoner Moon

Over 400,000 German prisoners of war have been brought to America during World War II.

Young Edwin Horst is one of them. Captured in France after D-Day, he finds himself in a Michigan POW camp, threatened by a hard-line Nazi sergeant and gets unexpected help from the Grudens, a local German-American family.

Doris Calloway, escaping her past, has come north from Kentucky to work in the nearby bomber factory. She rooms with the Grudens and falls in love with the troubled oldest son, Hans, back home from fighting the Japanese in the Pacific.

Inside the camp Sam Demsky, as part of a secret government program, tries to teach the prisoners about democracy and ends up involved with the headstrong Gruden daughter, Hildy.

Their lives intertwine inside and outside the barbed wire, with friends and lovers betrayed and reconciled.

John Van Roekel recently started work on a screenplay adaptation of Prisoner Moon.


Chapter One

So far today, die Monstren—the monsters—had left him alone.

Fifteen-year-old Edwin Horst, his German uniform dirty and torn where the Americans had ripped away the insignia for souvenirs, cowered alone with his back to the railroad car window, oblivious to the verdant fields of Michigan sweet corn rolling past outside. He was exhausted, terrified, and bored. His eyes twitched back and forth beneath half-closed lids, scanning the car filled with other prisoners and the single guard, watching and waiting. 

Edwin’s thoughts again drifted to his mother, alone in their apartment back in Düsseldorf. His father had died of tuberculosis six years before, his older brother Stefan was serving on the Eastern Front, and just four months ago, when the call came for volunteers as young as fourteen, Edwin had enlisted. 

He had left his mother alone in a time of war.