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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Gudrun Pausewang
Age Range: 12+
Gudrun Pausewang’s novel contradicts the popular perception that all Germans
were Nazis, and therefore evil, and that all Germans knew of the atrocities being
committed in the name of the Fatherland. Anna lives in a remote village where the
population is part German, part Czech, the former, in varying degrees, supporting
Nazi ideology, the latter equally varied in the degree of their opposition to Hitler’s
During the closing months of the Second World War, Anna stumbles upon a fugitive – a Russian and enemy – in her family’s barn. Though her brother Felix accepts the Nazi propaganda unquestioningly, Anna cannot, and she sees each human being for themself, even if they are ‘enemies’. Her dilemma is searingly portrayed, and is painfully obvious to readers: the views of the fervent Nazis in the village, including her uncle, are pitted against those of her grandmother, whose religious beliefs cannot allow Hitler to supplant God.
Constantly questioning the individual’s role, the novel’s shocking ending with its dreadful denouncement underlines the futility of war. An incredibly moving book, which will draw readers into Anna’s agonised decision making.
(Outside In: Children’s Books in Translation, Milet, 2005)