Submitted by: William C. Schrader

I asked my colleague in the Foreign Languages Department, and received the following response. I hope it is useful.

There is one novel I can recommend, from the perspective of a German prof., even if not that of a historian: Heinrich Böll's Billiards at Half-Past Nine. The novel covers a single day in 1958 -- unremarkable except for a parade and a birthday celebration. But in a series of flashbacks several characters tie 1958-Germany (West, of course) into the German history of the entire half century. There are recollections of the grandfather dating back to the early part of the century, but the main flashbacks have to do with the later part of the Hitler years. There is also a bit of prescient writing, it seems, in that the grandson represents German youth at a crossroad -- go along with the consumer society or attack it as the RAF terrorists did a decade later. When asked which part of the construction business he wanted to be in -- demolition or construction -- the grandson says: "Bauen oder sprengen? das weiss ich noch nicht." And "sprengen" can be interpreted as either the expected demolition of an existing building (many historical buildings were destroyed in the first phase of German reconstruction before historical conservation took over) or the unexpected bombing of a building as a terrorist attack.

Böll's novel plays with the concept of time, with an interweaving of past and present, and even a bit with the role of "rehabilitated" Nazis in German society.

A few short Böll stories would make a nice supplement to "Billiards" without overloading the reading assignments.

An alternative is the much longer Günther Grass novel The Tin Drum, which combines the history primarily during the war years with the post-war period. The film, by the way, covers only the former. It is excellent but a "tough" film. (I always warned my students that there were some vulgar scenes, and not all of them had to do with sexual situations!)

I recall from some years ago a film called Stunde Null, which covered the time around the exact end of the war. I don't remember the director.

Hope this helps.

Phillip J. Campana
Dept. of Foreign Languages
Tennessee Tech Univ
Cookeville, TN 38505


Submitted by: Jutta Tragnitz

Hi -- How about some women authors???? Brigitte Reiman: Franciska Linkerhand.... (1974) about the Wiederaufbau ! der DDR and a woman architect's problems...

Christa Wolf: Geteilter Himmel about East/West Berlin/Germany division within family/love ... this is an early one by Wolf and still has more pro-regime efforts than her later ones...

Christa Wolf: Kindermuster.... about WWII and after effects on Germans from the now Polish territories.

Irmtraud Morgner: Leben und Abenteuer der Torbadora Beatriz... very intresting and ocmplicated novel including many aspects of life seen from a perspective of a travelling songstress...

There are others: Maxie Wander; Sarah Kirsch; Bachmann;

Also Uwe Johnson: Mutmassungen über Jacob; Jahrestage.

Some of these are available in English. Good Luck... Jutta Tragnitz


Submitted by: Michael Neufeld

A very readable novel that gives the atmosphere of Berlin in the 70s on both sides of the Wall is Peter Schneider's The Wall Jumper (early 80s). I know from experience that students find it interesting.