The memoir by Uwe Timm is an interesting insight to life post WWII, with an emphasis on comparing two generations in Germany at that time. Uwe’s writing consist of his personal memories from childhood – the memories are unclear and seem to be nothing more than fragments of what he can recollect. The memories are in no chronological order, including the letters from his older brother Karl-Heinz, who was a member of the Waffen SS Death’s Head Division and away at war.
Timm describes how the Nazi regime recruited boys to join the “youth groups” that taught Nazi ideology. The Nazi ideologies included the fact that females were the inferior gender and were best suited for a life of “motherhood.” Uwe’s father, Hans, heavily grieves the loss of his eldest son Karl and shows little affection to his firstborn child who was a girl named Hanne. While Uwe describes the challenges of life post WWII, he is reflecting on the things that Karl may have done while away at war and questions what his brother really did. It seems as if Uwe likes to believe his brother, his blood, would not partake in such hateful and inhumane events. The guilt that Uwe feels from this is what I believe restricted him from writing this memoir until later in life. The closing sentence in this book is the last sentence that his brother Karl wrote in his diary, it states, “I close my diary here, because I don’t see any point in recording the cruel things that sometimes happen.” On page 139, this is the sentence that Uwe says he has read over and over – that this sentence is a glimmer of light in the surrounding darkness. The symbolism found in this single sentence reflects how one generation suffered from guilt that was resulting from the actions of previous generation’s immoral acts.