"The Dark Room" tells three stories that between them trace the legacy of the Nazi period on the lives of ordinary Germans. Helmut is a young photographer in Berlin in the 30's, who lives with a withered arm in a Nazi state that has little tolerance of the less than physically perfect. Finally called up in the closing months of the war, Helmut ...
"The Dark Room" tells three stories that between them trace the legacy of the Nazi period on the lives of ordinary Germans. Helmut is a young photographer in Berlin in the 30's, who lives with a withered arm in a Nazi state that has little tolerance of the less than physically perfect. Finally called up in the closing months of the war, Helmut eventually has the chance to show his patriotic fervour. Lore is twelve as the war comes to an end. As both her Nazi parents are seized by the Allies, Lore crosses Germany, shepherding her three young siblings to eventual safety at the home of her grandmother. Half a century later, Micha, a young schoolteacher, becomes obsesses with the war record of his much loved, and now dead, grandfather, who was in the Waffen SS on the Eastern Front during the war. He eventually travels to Byelorussia, in his grandfather's footsteps, but returns with more questions and fewer answers, as he struggles to love his grandparents and deal with his country in the shadow of their pasts.
Publishers Weekly, 2001-04-30 Three harrowing stories of people caught in the violent snare of Nazi Germany make up this evenly and unemotionally narrated first novel by an English woman living in Germany. Each of the stories bears its main character's name. The first entry concerns a boy called Helmut growing up in 1930s Berlin who has a birth defect barring him from serving in the army. He learns the trade of photography and chronicles in fascination first the evacuation of his native city, then its gradual destruction. Persistently, even when faced with evidence of the war's dreadful human toll, Helmut continues to spout the Führer's rhetoric. The Nazi bravado compensates for his physical shortcomings; at war's end, he is a hollow man. The next tale concerns the flight of a family of five bewildered children, led by Lore, the oldest girl, as they make their way after the Allied victory from Bavaria to their grandmother's house in Hamburg. Dependent on the charity of a fellow refugee (Tomas, a survivor of Buchenwald), the children are always on the verge of starving. After Tomas leads them to safety, Lore's gradual awareness of the Holocaust ages her beyond her years. Finally, in the last section, set in the late 1990s, a young German teacher named Micha digs into the hidden history of his dead grandfather's wartime activity, travels to Belarus to discover the truth of Opa's SS-Waffen deeds and must grapple with the new, terrifying information he unearths. Together, these three affecting works constitute a portrait of changing Germany and a psychological study of the ramifications of Nazi aggression. Seiffert's deliberately dispassionate narrative works to capture the rigid and self-righteous convictions of Germany's general population. Placed alongside the historical record, the tale gives a more complete, comprehensible picture of incomprehensible evil. 6-city author tour. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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