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American Jewish World: Germany's postwar hardship

By Neal Gendler
American Jewish World

Dagerman_German coverAlthough the Torah frowns on joy at other people’s suffering, perhaps Jews may be permitted, if not Schadenfreude, at least some lack of sympathy at the postwar hardship of millions of Germans.

In German Autumn, Stig Dagerman paints an unremittingly dismal picture of the defeated perpetrators of World War II in the gloom of November 1946. This first American edition is worthy reading, especially for those for whom the war is mostly a distant event in black and white. Essential background is provided in American author Mark Kurlansky’s foreword and translator Robin Fulton Macpherson’s introduction.

Dagerman, an acclaimed Swedish writer at 23, traveled across the United States and British zones as rain, cold and snow enveloped a crumbled, occupied and impoverished nation. Although many country Germans apparently lived much as before, particularly in little-damaged Bavaria, those struggling amid the skeletons of shattered and burned cities get most of Dagerman’s attention.

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German Autumn