“Against Forgetting”



German senior citizens write about World War II. - I’ve always asked myself how people could continue their lives as they did. My parents must have grown up in ruins. 70 percent of my hometown were destroyed. How do you deal with something like that? The more I read about it, the more I think the answer is “not at all”. My parents never wanted to talk about their experiences and only today, this chapter of German history is being opened, with long-lost literature being rediscovered.

To get an idea of life in those days see Heinrich Böll’s “The Silent Angel” and “Group Portrait With Lady”. Siegfried Lenz’ “The German Lesson” does not touch the destruction of war but the notion of “duty” and all its implications. “The German Lesson” and “Group Portrait With Lady” probably come as close as you can get to get an overview of what Germans were thinking in those days. Hans Erich Nossack’s “An Offering for the Dead” describes the destruction of a German city - Nossack was a witness of the firebombing of Hamburg. I haven’t read the latter, yet - from all I’ve heard it’s an almost unbearable read.