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the patagonian lament

As World War II was closing down, Dr Heinrich Sultmann skimmed off vast amounts of Nazi gold as it arrived in Argentina. He used the gold to establish a Reich-style colony on a remote island off the coast of Chile. 

Pieretska Mandlikova was a beautiful Jew from the Warsaw ghetto. She had been forced, by Joseph Mengele, to be Sultmann’s partner. Should she not comply, her parents and her infant daughter, Martina, would end up in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Following liberation, Pieretska’s parents immigrated to Australia. Success in their new homeland followed. Martina grew up and graduated from Sydney University. She married a young veterinary surgeon, Paddy O’Reagan, and their honeymoon was a research trip to Tierra del Fuego. 

In Punta Arenas Sultmann stared at the young Australian woman before him. She was a clone of his partner. The scheming German lured the honeymooners to his desolate island to compare the two women. Who were these two identical beauties and what secrets did this strange place hold? 

The security guards ensured that the Australians could never leave the island to divulge Sultmann’s whereabouts to the Israelis and the war crimes tribunal. A desperate Paddy devised a bizarre plan to gain their freedom. Should the plan fail, what would be the repercussions from the sadistic Sultmann?  

In Store Price: $26.95 
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Ebook version - $AUD9.00 upload.

Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 263




J.F. O'Connor
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published:  2016
Language: English




Jim O’Connor was born just after the Second World War to a returning war hero and his childhood sweetheart, the girl from a farm near the beach. He is the oldest of their five children and grew up in a farming community on the North Coast of NSW. His secondary education was at St John’s College, Woodlawn. He is married with three adult children. 

Jim has a Rural Science degree from Armidale University and a Veterinary Science degree from Queensland University. He is a former Rugby Union International, having played against Fiji and the South African Springboks. Since graduation he has practiced on the southern Gold Coast and in more recent years as a locum veterinarian in the UK.


This is his first novel.



a – Auschwitz

 Read a sample:


The railway station had been totally deserted for some time. Not a single locomotive lingered. However, on a siding stood 20 derelict cattle carriages. The human excreta had been hosed out of them three days earlier. Their dead and near-dead occupants had first been removed. The train stood like a haunting monument to the final load of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto that had been unloaded inside the nearby Auschwitz Concentration Camp.

A low mist curled around the desolate carriages as it rose from the frost-covered ground only to be suppressed by a constant drizzle. The eerie silence was punctuated by a monotonous drip-drip-drip as a bucket filled then overflowed under a hole in the guttering. In the adjacent death camp two men dodged the larger puddles as they sauntered around the barbed-wire perimeter fenceline. It was a routine undertaken almost daily, partly to maintain some fitness but more importantly to have a chat. Suddenly the younger officer stopped. He stood motionless, staring up at the chimneys. For some time as they strolled he was aware that this day’s walk was different but he could not work out why. Then it hit him.

“Josef,” he called out.

Mengele had walked on ahead.

“Yes, Heinrich.”

Mengele paused and turned his head towards his colleague, then instinctively turned his gaze skywards in the direction of Sultmann’s.

“The gassings have stopped.” Sultmann nodded as he spoke as if to add credence to his own words. His eyes flashed back to his superior.

“Do you think it is permanent?” he quizzed.

Mengele shrugged his shoulders.

“Maybe,” was all he volunteered. He could have answered ‘Yes’ if he so chose. Being a top-ranking officer, he was aware of all the High Command’s decisions and was privy to Himmler’s latest directive, which was to stop the gassings and destroy all evidence that the process ever existed.

“I hope so.”

“Why do you hope so, Heinrich?”

“Well, I have never particularly come to grips with the stench from those chimneys.”

They strolled on, but Mengele was perplexed. He had assumed the answer would have had something to do with the slackening in the elimination rate of the Jews. He realised maybe he and his protégé were not totally paralleled in their thought process as he had assumed. They walked on in silence, then 50 meters and 50 puddles later Mengele stopped.

“Yes, I must agree, Heinrich, it was rather offensive.”

The younger officer nodded. He was pleased. An agreement from Mengele was, if nothing else, an ego boost.

“But one only smelt them when the weather closed in. Usually the wind blew it away, don’t you agree?”

He added the qualifier after a brief thoughtful pause. Thus his agreement was as usual qualified to ensure he retained his position of superiority. He looked at Sultmann and smiled; it was almost a contented smirk.

“I guess so.”

Sultmann was forced to accept the amendment. He stamped the butt of his cigarette into the sodden soil and moved in the direction of his laboratory.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Josef.”

He didn’t turn to Mengele but raised his right hand in a gesture of farewell as he sauntered off.

“Who gives a rat’s arse?” he mumbled to himself, half hoping that somebody would hear him and ask for clarification of his statement, but nobody did.

He was a very depressed young doctor. It was a deep depression caused by witnessing two years of death and degradation at this horrible place. His survival in one of humanity’s greatest stagnations was achieved by his ability to distance himself from reality. He remained totally indifferent to the plight of the Jews and to the fact that 16,000 humans were being eliminated daily, right before his very eyes. His university and military training had been thorough. He was only interested in the endless supply of guinea pigs that was presented for his research. After all, his research was for the advancement of the German people and the Third Reich.

As he approached the steps of his laboratory he paused and again looked up to confirm his original sightings. His doubt was understandable. Those four chimneys had belched their stinking effluent skywards for as long as he had been in this God-forbidden hellhole and for a long time before that, and now it had ceased. His spirits slowly rose. Was this the start of better times? Could he conduct his beloved research in a more hospitable environment as he had so often requested? Maybe he could return to his native Germany. A weak smile partially parted his lips as he thought of going home. He thought of his Christmas leave that was now only about eight weeks away. It would be great to return to his beautiful Bremen and see his wonderful family again.

It was a family who knew little of his meteoric rise within the ranks of the SS. He knew of his father’s silent disapproval of “that clandestine organisation” and had no wish to fragment the family unit and so kept his achievements largely to himself. His family did, however, remember his graduation and the accolades smothered on him by the great Professor Otmar Freihur von Verschuer on that memorable day which culminated in his acceptance of the university medal. His honours thesis on twin-behavioural patterns was encouraged and possibly over-rewarded. His critics, and there were many, claimed he was just a von Verschuer mouthpiece and his innocence allowed him to publish what the professor dared not. His admirers, on the other hand, claimed he was a genius. They were more numerous and held more sway with the university council and even to a much higher level. His university medal was the only one that had a congratulatory telegram attached to it. The telegram was from the Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler.

Sultmann allowed himself the luxury of the pleasant thoughts. He pictured each member of his family. He could vividly see his bedroom. It had never changed as his mother had promised, though floods of tears, when he’d departed to do his bit for the war effort. He could see it all – the athletic banners, the debating certificates, the blow-up of the action shot when he struck that goal in the Bayern Munich trial game. His thought process aligned as he recalled earlier, happier times. Then suddenly, as it always did, his reminiscing lifeline snapped, his mind recoiled like a wound-up spring and was back to the present. His face portrayed his brain’s alteration and a slight frown creased his brow. His joy about the slowly approaching Christmas break was tempered by the knowledge that his home leave would be very short and in fact he would be back in this wretched place to see in the New Year of 1945. 

* * * 

At 7.15 pm on 24th December, a very tired but happy Dr Heinrich Sultmann drove the Third Reich’s dusty Mercedes into the Ribenentroff Avenue driveway. He was later than expected because the trip from Poland had been hell. He had left in the early hours of the morning and only stopped to refuel. His family had been anxiously awaiting his arrival since mid-afternoon but now, finally, he was home. Brenda, his younger sister, peered through the curtains and, as his car pulled up, screamed with delight then raced down the cobbled driveway and flung herself at him. At first he was stunned. Of course he recognised her but could not believe the amazing metamorphosis that had occurred. Two years was a long time, particularly in the physical development of a young woman between the ages of 15 and 17. That awkward brat who would pester him and interrupt his university studies had turned into a very curvaceous and stunningly beautiful young woman.

“Heinrich, come and see the tree. I have brought you the most wonderful Christmas present,” Brenda said, looking him up and down. In spite of the long arduous journey his uniform was largely uncreased and as usual he presented well. His tall athletic frame ensured that.

“Please tell me that you don’t have a girlfriend and that over Christmas you will take me to all your parties. Mother has several lined up for you to attend you know.” She babbled on, her excitement transferred readily into dialogue irrespective of its meaning or significance.

He put his arm around her shoulder and they strolled up the driveway. Their parents were waiting, smiling, on the porch. Both sets of eyes welled up with tears of joy as they saw their beautiful offspring, arm in arm approaching them. The front door was open and Heinrich could smell the dried pine cones burning in the open fireplace. He looked up and saw the smoke billowing from the chimney and his mind flashed back to Auschwitz.

“Daddy, Heinrich said he would take me to the New Year’s Eve party at the university.” Brenda was testing the water.

Heinrich was hugging his mother, who was now sobbing uncontrollably at the joy of seeing her precious son. Her make-up,  put on specifically for his homecoming, was wrecked. Her face was still beautiful. She was what Hitler envisaged all his good breeding stock should look like. Heinrich looked over his mother’s shoulder.

“Unfortunately, Princess, I will be back at the hospital on New Year’s Eve.”

They knew that he was stationed in Poland but assumed he worked in Warsaw. All his mail was directed to Warsaw, but, unbeknown to them, SS headquarters in the Polish capital relayed it onto Auschwitz. The secrecy of his location was partly security but he had never elaborated on his exact location and they had never asked.

“But I am still your favourite girl, aren’t I, Heinrich?” she asked, ogling him and pleading for an affirmative answer.

“Of course you are, Princess.” He squeezed her gently to him. “That’s if Mum doesn’t mind the bronze medal,” he continued after a pause.

They all laughed heartily.

“So who gets the silver one?” his father asked, having picked up the unintentional slip up.

“Sorry, Dad. What did you say?” He realised his mistake and was stalling for time to fend off the gaffe. “Nobody, no I’m still married to the cause.” He hoped his lie sounded convincing but now was definitely not the time to tell them about Pieretska.





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