Maria heard stories of Nazi atrocities but no one believed them. They were certainly part of some smear campaign against the Führer, Adolf Hitler. She was not one to turn a blind eye. She wanted to know the truth, so she volunteered for duty that would put her in the right place to witness these alleged war crimes.
She was horrified to discover that the stories of what was being done to the Jews, the disabled, homosexuals, and other minority groups was not only true, but grossly understated. She resolved to do what she could to help, passing extra food and medicine to prisoners. Many times, she faced possible execution for helping her patients, but she stood firm.
Note: After the war, the real Maria Stromberger was broken by the experience, never returning to nursing. She died in 1957 of a heart attack. In this novel, we have fictionalized many of her actions and relationships, and we have given her another decade, having her survive the heart attack in 1957 but suffer from heart disease thereafter.