|Globocnik and Bouhler|
Wednesday, 4 May 2016
G is for the GOVERNOR OF MADAGASKAR
Early in the plotting of The Madagaskar Plan it became clear that I would need to include the GOVERNOR OF MADAGASKAR, not only to rule the island but also to thwart Hochburg. Three possibilities are mentioned in the narrative.
My research soon revealed that the Nazis had a candidate in mind as early as the 1930s: Philipp Bouhler, Head of Chancellery in Hitler’s personal office and an old comrade of the Führer’s. However, Bouhler didn’t make for a particularly dramatic character. He was too dry, a bureaucrat, so I decided to project the story beyond his governorship.
I considered a fictitious character but wanting to keep things grounded in reality I started looking at other, real possibilities. One name kept cropping up: Odilo Globocnik. He had run the Lublin Reservation in Poland (a precursor to the Madagascar Plan) and later built the death camps; he seemed a very likely contender.
Yet I was reluctant to use him because of Fatherland (where he is the main villain). It was only after I read a biography of him that I realised his potential. Although Robert Harris depicts the psychopathic qualities of his character well, he omitted lots of the bizarre details. I included many of these in Madagaskar: Globocnik’s two wedding rings, his alcoholism, womanising, horsemanship, love of Austrian folk music. All this is true and made him spring alive for me. So is the fact he never employed women older than twenty-four and that he used to speak to Himmler while lying on the floor, raising alternate legs as he agreed with the Reichsführer. As mentioned in my novel, Globocnik had a real breakdown in 1943.
[Spoiler alert.] In the final chapters of the book a replacement for Globus is mentioned – Herr Bischoff. Again he was a real person and was considered by Heydrich to run the island. Bischoff’s reign would have been different to Bouhler’s and especially Globus’s. He was an accountant and married to a half-Jewish wife. This illustrates well my feelings on alternative history. Often people say to me this or that couldn’t have happened, but how can they be certain? All of the three men above when credible candidates as Governor of Madagaskar. Each would have ruled the island in a very different manner.