Page 27 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 24

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a priest to atone for the fa ther’s sins. Koeppen’s thesis is clear.
T h e Pfaffraths are prepared to help the ruthless Judejahns again.
Judejahn , who recognizes a Jewish woman from his home town,
and shoots her in a Roman window, is prepared to kill the Jews
again. T h e opposition, represented through the weak members
of the family, are still no match for the shrewd Pfaffrath or the
criminal Judejahn . Significantly Koeppen sees in the Pfaffraths
the clue to the German past and present. Since they have no t
changed, Koeppen is no t filled w ith pleasant forebodings.
In much of the above literature the Jew is anonymous victim,
a tool for recognizing or devolving guilt, an instrument for
appraising the German situation. In a few other novels, notably
W alter Jens’ excellent
Der B linde
(The B lind Man) and Albrecht
Goes’ much discussed
Das Brandopfer
(The Bu rn t Offering)
the Jew emerges as a statuesque, semi-biblical symbol, possessing
deep moral awareness, patriarchal wisdom, born of suffering and
persecution. In
Der Blinde
Jens uses a concentration camp gradu­
ate to help a German school teacher gone b lind to re tu rn to
spiritual health. “T h e Bu rn t Offering” has a saintly rabb i per­
petuate an image well known in philo-semitic literature .
Like Boll and Jens, Stefan Andres is one of the better known
German literary figures. His
Sperrzone
is a short drama of guilt.
Dr. Schneider, recently re tu rned from a P.O.W. camp in Russia,
visits a small German town seeking to establish itself as a resort.
All is well, except the controversy over the uncomfortable
cemetery located on the site of a former concentration camp
for women. T h e local bigwigs, some of them erstwhile Nazis,
want to be rid of the ugly cemetery which mars the town and
which, according to what a child has been told, has
only
Jewesses
in its graves. But young Welch, a teacher at the Gymnasium,
opposes this move, eager as he is to teach his charges about the
criminal past. He himself had “reason taken away from him at
sixteen,” bu t “in the prisoner camps i t had come back with a
vengeance.” To the town leadership Welch is a nuisance. They
work with his principal, the politically active and compliant
Dr. Kaiser. T h e latter, with the town officials, wants the past
forgotten. But this morning Kaiser was visited by the former
director of the concentration camp who, in the closing days of
the war, had tried to create a good image by warning Kaiser
the camp was to be blown up. Kaiser had taken no action to save
the women. Here is his gu ilt—silence and acquiescence. But
Kaiser, like most Germans, had been raised to regard duty to
the state the highest duty. T h a t n igh t Kaiser, the issues finally
made clear by Schneider and Welch, resolves to side with those
who remember and assume the unpopu lar and dangerous re­
sponsibility. T h e cemetery will remain.
K
a h n
— T
h e
J
ew
in
P
ostw ar
G
erm a n
L
itera tu re
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