Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Alone in Berlin

Not a single post in over a week. What's up with that? All I can say in my defense is that I have been busy. It's January and that means all the pennies I earned and spent for my doll business last year need to be counted so I can do taxes. This is not much fun at all, but it needs to be done. Those are the times I wish I could make dolls just for fun and give them away. I really don't like counting pennies. Who does?

Aside from that, there was this great 668 page book I got for Christmas. It totally drew me in.  I had to finish reading it. My husband gave me the 1946 novel Jeder stirbt fuer sich allein ( Every Man dies Alone) by Hans Fallada, a German writer. Apparently Fallada is a forgotten author who has been rediscovered recently in Germany and other parts of the world. The book I read hadn't even been translated into English until 2009 when it was published in the UK under the title "Alone in Berlin". 

I found this great summary that a reader from a US library wrote:

Written in 1946, but only recently translated into English, this novel tells the story of a Berlin couple who begin to leave handwritten postcards with subversive messages on them around the city after losing their only son, a reluctant soldier, in the invasion of France in 1940. Based on a true story, the book vividly conveys what it was like to live in a society where everyone was watching - and informing on - everyone else, where all your family and friends were tainted with suspicion if you stepped out of line, and the consequences included prison, concentration camps and the guillotine.

When you are a German national, a person with a German accent, living in the US or any other country, as a matter of fact, you are forever haunted by your history. I cannot tell you how many times the subject of Nazi Germany has come up over the years with various people of different ages and backgrounds. The ignorant things people will say at times still blow me away. I have had children in England, where I worked at a boarding school,  walk up to me with their hands raised Nazi greeting style, saying "Heil Hitler" to me. I had a roommate in North Carolina, mustache added with the other hand, do the same thing. Rather recently, a young boy age 15 or so,  asked me what I did during the war.  I am in my 40s, you know. Seems like there is something lacking when it comes to teaching history and perhaps good manners.

Will it ever stop? I think from now on I will point people in the direction of that book. It is the saddest yet at the same time most beautiful book written on the topic of what it was like to be a German during that time. This book will shake you to the core and leave you with the question: What would I have done if put in that situation? Would I have joined and become part of the system? Or would I have risked my life and stood up for what is right?  Hopefully none of us will ever be to put to the test.


Folky Dots said...

I hope, by God's grace to stand and protect those that are being persecuted.
Like the Jews of those years, it is now becoming the Christians of these years who are hated, ridiculed and persecuted. I pray I have the strength to stand for what is right.

I do not hold you responsible for your countries past. I see in Americans the same symptoms which allowed the "common" German people to turn their heads to the atrocities being committed in their own back yards. This makes me sad. I am and have always been interested in the Holocaust reading books, watching documentaries and listening to survivors when able to. I watched a documentary once that showed the US soldiers leading German people through a concentration camp. They went in smiling and carefree looking. They came out sick and horrified. I often wonder what would become of abortion in the land if we, the American people were required to tour abortion clinics and watch a late term abortion be preformed. We would most likely be like the people who were made to walk the concentration camps that were just a mile from there house.

You are sad at how people view you because of your nationality and the Holocaust. I am sad when my 10 year old son, in a worried voice asks me if the aborted babies get to go to heaven.

I love reading your blog by the way. I love reading of your rich German history. You are blessed to have the heritage you have.

germandolls said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I really enjoyed hearing your perspective.