From Upper-Class German Boy to Steuben Survivor: A Gripping True Story Comes Alive in “Achim’s Story”

From Upper-Class German Boy to Steuben Survivor: A Gripping True Story Comes Alive in "Achim's Story"

Bettina Spicer Owens, a retired IT professional and debut author, unveils her captivating historical fiction novel Achim’s Story.  More than just a war narrative, this unique historical fiction tells the story of an inspiring and courageous journey that takes readers from the gilded cages of pre-war Germany to the icy depths of a WWII maritime disaster.

Achim’s story begins not on the battlefield but in a world of privilege. Born into an upper-class German family, his early life is shadowed by a complex relationship with his mother and a life-altering secret he uncovers as Nazi ideology begins to permeate German society.  Despite his father’s disapproval, a young Achim’s heart beats for the sea. His unwavering dream propels him onto a path that collides with the growing darkness of World War II.

Achim’s Story is not a romanticized portrayal of war.  As a merchant sailor, Achim witnesses the human cost of conflict firsthand.  He receives an Iron Cross from Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, a recognition that becomes a symbol of both courage and moral complexity amidst the Nazi regime.

Fate takes a dramatic turn when Achim becomes one of the few survivors of the Steuben sinking. This little-known maritime tragedy, which claimed over 4,500 lives in the frigid Baltic Sea in February 1945, becomes the crucible that tests Achim’s resilience and forces him to confront the fragility of life.

But Achim’s Story is more than just a tale of survival.  Owens’ powerful narrative delves into the profound impact of choices.  Achim grapples with the decisions that led him onto the Steuben, questioning the path he has taken and the future that lies ahead.  In the aftermath of the disaster, he finds solace and connection in unexpected places – the bonds of friendship forged in the face of tragedy and a love story that blooms amidst the ruins of war.

The novel doesn’t end with the war.  It follows Achim’s eventful early life—a journey as he rebuilds his life in a Danish refugee camp, ultimately finding a new beginning in the United States. In addition to offering a true and genuine historical first-hand account, this unlike novel showcases the human spirit’s ability to adapt and rebuild even after facing unimaginable hardship.

Moreover, Achim’s Story is a captivating and emotionally charged exploration of a life shaped by historical upheaval.  It sheds light on the Steuben sinking, a tragedy often overshadowed by other WWII maritime disasters. For history buffs and readers who enjoy gripping narratives of resilience and the enduring power of the human spirit,  Achim’s Story is a must-read.

About Bettina Spicer Owens:

Bettina is the middle child of seven, a mother of two sons, a retiree from a highly successful career in information technology at LSU Health Sciences Center, and a first-time author who lives in the New Orleans area. As a child, she lived in New Jersey, Georgia, Virginia, Florida, Rhode Island, and Holland before her father retired from the Navy in New Orleans. Bettina’s novel, Achim’s Story, is historical fiction about Bettina’s German stepfather, Joachim Wedekind zur Horst, who loved to tell stories of his past experiences before, during, and after World War II. Joachim was a long-time resident of the New Orleans area and received his United States citizenship while living there.

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