Two Brothers – Ben Elton


Berlin 1920

Two babies are born.

Two brothers. United and indivisible, sharing everything. Twins in all but blood.

As Germany marches into its Nazi Armageddon, the ties of family, friendship and love are tested to the very limits of endurance. And the brothers are faced with an unimaginable choice….Which one of them will survive?

Two Brothers is a heartrending story of two boys growing up under the darkening shadow of the Nazis. Born in Berlin in 1920 and raised by the same parents, one boy is Jewish, his adopted brother is Aryan. At first, their origins are irrelevant. But as the political landscape changes they are forced to make decisions with horrifying consequences.


Ben Elton is one of Britain’s most provocative and entertaining writers. From celebrity to climate change, from the First World War to the end of the world, his books give his unique perspective on some of the most controversial topics of our time.

He has written twelve major bestsellers, including Stark, Popcorn, Inconceivable (filmed as Maybe Baby, which he also directed), Dead Famous, High Society (WH Smith People’s Choice Award 2003) and The First Casualty.

He has also written some of television’s most popular and incisive comedy, including The Young Ones, Blackadder and The Man From Auntie. His stage work includes three West End plays and the hit musicals The Beautiful Game and We Will Rock You.

He is married with three children.

MY REVIEW:  Published in 2012, Two Brothers is Ben Elton’s most personal novel to date and for reason’s unknown it’s taken me seven years to read it.  Which, in my opinion, is 7 years too long and I really should have read this book sooner.

Two Brothers is based around a Jewish family living in Berlin.  Freida and Wolfgang Stengel are a young couple looking forward to the imminent birth of their twin boys who are born on the same day as the birth of Hitler’s Nazi party but when one of the twins is stillborn they are asked to secretly adopt a non-Jewish baby whose mother died in childbirth.

The story is told through alternating chapters from Berlin in the early 1920’s to London in 1956 and the reader is taken back through history to the beginning of Hitler’s power.  Reading the slow and inhuman the Jews were targeted left me feeling horrified and disgusted throughout the book.  The research and in-depth knowledge Ben Elton brings to Two Brothers enabled me as a reader (and a Jew) to see/feel/hear Freida, Wolf, Otto and Paulus’ story and bring them to life in my imagination.

A very uncomfortable and emotional story based around the atrocities of the Nazi party and whilst the book is a work of fiction,  Two Brothers is a powerful lesson in History and one that I sincerely hope is never repeated.

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