Saturday, 27 November 2010

My Amazon review of W G Sebald’s Luftkrieg und Literatur

Exposure of the tainted authors of the Third Reich

In exquisite and clear, if complex, language - I read him in the original German - Sebald explains how the work of authors who went through the purgatory of the Third Reich was contaminated, rotten in the centre, and full of excuses and self-justification. They wrote novels showing how they SHOULD have behaved, a cover-up. He cites in particular Alfred Andersch, who was married to a Jewish woman, by whom he had a daughter. He sacrificed both by divorcing her, so that she lost the protection of an 'aryan' husband, and was subject to the terrible treatment the Nazis meted out to the Jews. After the war he used the fact that he had been married to a Jewish woman to gain favour with those in power. He was a shit. Obviously, his novels handled the material of his life to show him to advantage. Sebald also suggests that the Germans never faced, admitted, worked through, healed themselves of, the terrible trauma of their suffering from the bombing and conflagrations of their main cities. I knew from my friends the Dabelsteins in Hamburg, as we drove through the ruins of the city in 1946, where they didnt know which street they were in, as the rows of rubble were all the same, utterly unidentifiable, that the firebombs produced such huge areas in flames, that people were sucked into them.

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