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Monday, December 07, 2009

The Good German

An easily accessible thriller, Joseph Kanon's The Good German was made into a film a few years ago which I had seen. The story taking place in post war 1945 Berlin, I was (inevitably I suppose) intrigued. There isn't much to say about the novel per se. It is a crime novel. The American hero returns to his post war home of Berlin in search of his erstwhile lover whose physicist husband has become an important cog in the scientific Nazi research team at Pennemuende. Both the Russians and Americans are trying to recruit those scientists, our hero is trying to protect his love interest while working on the murder of an American enriching himself through the black market. Confusion ensues, but, of course, this is a laid back crime novel after all, life never becomes really bad.

What is far more interesting are the (apparently and apart from a few irritatingly Anglicized German plurals: ein Greifer, zwei Greifers) well-researched facets of life in Berlin during the summer and fall of 1945 and the early American occupation. Among the most interesting or shocking of these, was the process of a Jewish girl which had worked for the Gestapo looking for Jews who were then deported. The apparent (and near total) breakdown of discipline within the US armed forces. And finally, the American willingness to ignore or even to hide the Nazi past of important scientists, recruited in preparation of the confrontation against the Soviet Union.

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