WW2 Novels from the German Perspective?

(31 Posts)
TooLaidBackForMyOwnGood Fri 09-May-14 23:00:28

I am looking to get a bit of a historical perspective on the lives of the normal German family during WW2. I have read around the Blitz etc but since fleetingly coming across the lives of Germans in various books and TV programmes I am intrigued on how they managed to survive (or not) and how they viewed the Allies and Russians etc, but essentially a more in depth social history. Any good recommendations out there?

antimatter Fri 09-May-14 23:41:29

I heard about this book on Good Reads on R4

My friend who lives in Germany ind is very well read never heard of it but after my recommendation she read it and loved it
is on my "to read" list smile

chubbleigh Fri 09-May-14 23:42:44

Try some Heinrich Boll. Well written stuff.

Youdontneedacriminallawyer Fri 09-May-14 23:49:28

Have you read The Book Thief, or The Boy in Striped Pyjamas?

Raia Fri 09-May-14 23:49:34

Hans Fallada's Alone in Berlin is brilliant

FuckyNell Fri 09-May-14 23:52:01

All quiet on the western front

WidowWadman Fri 09-May-14 23:57:06

Wolfgang Borchert's short stories are well worth reading. Yes, they're not novels, but really highly recommended.

WorldWildWifeFund Sat 10-May-14 00:01:26

Das Boot (The Boat). It's a memoir about being in a submarine crew, but lots of everday detail and attitudes. The misogyny may shock you, but I fear it is accurate.

NigellasDealer Sat 10-May-14 00:02:31

A Model Childhood - Christa Wolf

NigellasDealer Sat 10-May-14 00:05:18

or 'Patterns of Childhood' depending on translation

maillotjaune Sat 10-May-14 00:16:52

A Woman In Berlin is a very well written book, although not a novel (diary) and I found it upsetting and disturbing and hard to read. That said, it should probably be on a must-read list for everyone.

I was going to recommend Alone In Berlin, but I see Raia beat me to it smile

TooLaidBackForMyOwnGood Sat 10-May-14 08:31:30

Thank you all, I shall get ordering and add them to my ever increasing pile of books by my bed.

doradoo Sat 10-May-14 08:47:07

Another vote for Alone in Berlin - read it recently and enjoyed it very much.

Also there is Winter by Len Deighton which is a family saga type thing - enjoyed that one too!

pearlgirl Sat 10-May-14 08:54:34

I have Alone in Berlin in my to read pile - I must get on to it. There is also a series of books set over about a hundred years (3 books - each one a different time period) in Berlin and I think one of those is set in the 30s and 40s - I just can't remember the name of them.

Nightwriter Sat 10-May-14 10:28:03

I recommend two novels by Gert Ledig The Stalin Organ and Payback. Ledig fought at Stalingrad and was back in Germany when their cities were being flattened by bombs. So these books are not easy reads but you will never forget them once you have read them.

hackmum Sat 10-May-14 11:56:30

Alone in Berlin is a marvellous book.

Not a fan of The Book Thief.

BasketzatDawn Sat 10-May-14 22:32:04

Some more ideas ....

Other G Grass ones include Dog Years; Crabwalk
Rachel Seiffert: The Dark Room
Bernard Schlink - The Reader and Homecoming both involve ww2 (with flashbacks, I think).
Cristabel Bielenberg's memoir is good
The Blind Side of the Heart - Julia Frank
Soldaten - written in English - forgotten the author (it's about military)
Klaus Mann did a sort of satire on Third Reich base don Faust story - Mephisto (I haven't read it - yet)
Two Brothers - Ben Elton - involves both Jewish and non-Jewish characters thought the main family is Jewish.

TwoAndTwoEqualsChaos Sat 17-May-14 22:27:36

Was going to recommend Christabel Bielenberg's two-volume memoir: obviously not a novel, but very interesting as an English-woman married to a German.

DuchessofMalfi Sun 18-May-14 06:53:51

Can't see Schindler's Ark by Thomas Kenneally mentioned on here, so am adding that one. Harrowing read - had to study it for A Level English, but so worth ploughing through.

EduardoBarcelona Sun 18-May-14 07:06:14

Agree with bielenberg

mimbleandlittlemy Tue 20-May-14 17:04:26

The Undertaking by Audrey McGee is about soldiers out on the Russian front and those left in Berlin. One of the current Bailey's Prize shortlist books. It's an interesting read (I have caveats about the writing and I don't think it will win the prize but that's another matter!).

Another yes for Christabel Bielenberg.

I read a book about fifteen years ago called True To Both My Selves which is about a half German, half British girl who grew up in both countries. I found it fascinating.

It's quite expensive on Amazon, so I would try ordering it via your local library.


MollyGuacaholly Fri 23-May-14 18:05:47

The Twins by Tessa de Loo is a beautiful book.
It is about two girls that get separated, one grows up in Germany, the other in the Netherlands.

Igneococcus Sat 24-May-14 12:10:57

I don't know if this has been translated into English but Isabella Nadolny's memoir Ein Baum waechst uebers Dach covers her life before, during and after the war. It is beautifully written, well worth reading.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now