As an avid student of the Second World war, and an obsessive collector of books on the subject, I looked forward to plunging into the frigid waters of reality that I knew I would find in Dr. Feigel’s latest work. I was not disappointed. Disseminated throughout the 148,000 words – not counting 74 pages of notes, acknowledgements, bibliography, and index can be found harrowing descriptions of everyday existence in Germany after their defeat. Not missed either were the manifestations and evidence of the atrocities perpetrated on the Jews.
But that was not the point of the book. Dr. Feigel has attempted to impress her readers by the efforts of a few to make Germany more livable for themselves and acceptable to the outside world.
These champions of peace had slithered into the safety of America at the start of the war, and only surfaced when the danger had passed. Mostly German and British, these writers and poet’s only claim to fame was a propensity to lechery, pedophilia and homosexuality together with an ardent desire to commit suicide – some of whom succeeded. Dr. Feigel seems to view the cowardly act of suicide as a literary achievement.
I realize that I am not the intellectual equal of Dr. Feigel. I have no doubt that somewhere in oak paneled rooms greater minds than mine are discussing the finer points of this poem or that play. But in the real world, these literary giants who are the subject of this book, were parasites on the backs of ordinary German people whose only concern was where their next meal would come from. I doubt that starving people appreciate the complexity of literary theory.
With the help of America and Gt. Britain, and despite Russia, Germany survived her flirtation with National Socialism and all that that entailed and became a rich and powerful Nation again. Perhaps others will be persuaded that someone who attempted suicide with morbid regularity contributed to that success? I’m not one of them.
Notwithstanding the above (as they say), this is an excellent book, extremely well written and researched, and well worth a place on your library shelves.