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Date Posted: 14:07:31 12/11/09 Fri
Author: dea
Subject: all that Esther said >>>
In reply to: Fel 's message, "In here, please>>>>>>" on 15:09:23 12/09/09 Wed

and a bit more. something that comes to me as perhaps not quite accurate is the way of speaking and behaving. they sound a bit too American to me. and it seems to me that they touch too much. as far as i know, Germans are colder, even in their family relations. and they are in the military, what enhances the coldness. i think you should research about the use of the language and expressions of that period.

the other thing is background. it does not seem that they come from the military aristocracy in Germany, who were not very fond of Hitler. their father was in the industry/sales business, so i guess middle class. something tells me, but i’m not sure, that the access to the SS was not so easy to such young soldiers without political influence.

recently i watched the rerun of this movie, i think it’s called “The Poet”, where a German soldier falls in love with a Jewish girl, and this turns his initial discomfort with what Hitler was doing to his country, to Poland, to Russia, to the Jews, gypsies and other “minorities” targeted by the Reich, into treason and murder. heroism, on “this side”. that’s a good example of how a somewhat romantic notion of war and patriotism can be smashed by reality when there’s a sense of humanity in the character.

as for impressions… i confess, i stopped reading by the time they began to talk about family. sorry. thanks to Esther i read it through, with her comments. something feels wrong, actually from the first lines of dialogue. this is the phrase that shocked me the most:

“How can you live so close to them? Doesn’t it bother you to have rats and vermin living so near to good, upstanding Germans?”

but probably not for the reason one might think. of course that was the idea behind it, that was the message conveyed in speeches. but in day-to-day life, and officially, they were referred as “them” – Wilhelm is right on that – or “the problem”, “the load”, “the cargo”. impersonally. like a nuisance. eventually, like a business, an industry. systematic, efficient.

the way i see it: Heinrich joined the army following his brother, and with this romantic notion of war. he goes to the front and sees the reality of the battlefield.

about the “Jews issue”, you have two choices: either you follow the version in which for some time most of the people did not know what was going on in “working camps”; or you follow the version – maybe more than a version, considering the evidence in film – that the local population used to watch the early extermination of Jews as part of a Sunday walk, with children and dogs, when it was made with shots to the heads and burying in mass graves, long before there were gas chambers and crematoria.

yet, you might choose to have the issue not affect him so much, because he’s young and brave. if he doesn’t know, and he’s really naïve, the remark about “rats and vermin” would be misplaced. and he would be totally shocked when he found out about his new task. he would wonder if he had made the right choice, that running a “working camp” was not vacations in the country as he might have imagined. and he would be shocked to realise that Wilhelm is changed but not only in appearance. what does he do next? does he accept the idea? does he embrace it? or does he go numb and go with the flow of events? does he go crazy? is there redemption, or he goes beyond redemption? is he the hero or the villain? i mean, what is the relevance of the story you’re trying to tell?

i see a lot more tension in their reunion, not all that amicability. Heinrich does not recognise his brother. Wilhelm is tense and cold. is he happy to be in the camp? is he happy that his little brother is there? how does he feel about “introducing” his little brother to that reality? afraid of his reaction, afraid of losing his respect, his love? proud?

if they are both all right with everything, then there’s not need for comments about the smell and the rats and vermin at all. i mean, it should be completely matter-of-factly, so why comment?

sorry, i did not mean to go so far, but i can give you that, you have opened a can of worms here. as usual, feel free to ignore me. :)

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Replies:

[> [> [> Thanks dea !!>>>> -- Fel, 13:40:55 12/14/09 Mon

>and a bit more. something that comes to me as perhaps
>not quite accurate is the way of speaking and
>behaving. they sound a bit too American to me. and it
>seems to me that they touch too much. as far as i
>know, Germans are colder, even in their family
>relations. and they are in the military, what enhances
>the coldness. i think you should research about the
>use of the language and expressions of that period.

I don't know too much about how Germans are supposed to act or talk, but I shall do some more research into getting them to act more like Germans and less like me, an American.
>
>the other thing is background. it does not seem that
>they come from the military aristocracy in Germany,
>who were not very fond of Hitler. their father was in
>the industry/sales business, so i guess middle class.
>something tells me, but i’m not sure, that the access
>to the SS was not so easy to such young soldiers
>without political influence.

Right. I was thinking that Wilhelm could have gotten Heinrich into the SS with his influence as a Kommandant and being a somewhat prominent Nazi officer. I'll do some more research into this matter.
>
>recently i watched the rerun of this movie, i think
>it’s called “The Poet”, where a German soldier falls
>in love with a Jewish girl, and this turns his initial
>discomfort with what Hitler was doing to his country,
>to Poland, to Russia, to the Jews, gypsies and other
>“minorities” targeted by the Reich, into treason and
>murder. heroism, on “this side”. that’s a good example
>of how a somewhat romantic notion of war and
>patriotism can be smashed by reality when there’s a
>sense of humanity in the character.

Yes. Heinrich's notion of the romance of war had already been pretty shaken up, but it is further destroyed by what he witnesses at the camp.
>
>as for impressions… i confess, i stopped reading by
>the time they began to talk about family. sorry.
>thanks to Esther i read it through, with her comments.
>something feels wrong, actually from the first lines
>of dialogue. this is the phrase that shocked me the
>most:
>
>“How can you live so close to them? Doesn’t it
>bother you to have rats and vermin living so near to
>good, upstanding Germans?”

>
>but probably not for the reason one might think. of
>course that was the idea behind it, that was the
>message conveyed in speeches. but in day-to-day life,
>and officially, they were referred as “them” – Wilhelm
>is right on that – or “the problem”, “the load”, “the
>cargo”. impersonally. like a nuisance. eventually,
>like a business, an industry. systematic, efficient.

I probably should have posed a question before putting this story up here, asking if everyone would be okay with me having a story about Nazi's and death camps posted. I'm glad you stuck out reading it. I'll change how Heinrich and Wilhelm talk about their Jewish prisoners, then.
>
>the way i see it: Heinrich joined the army following
>his brother, and with this romantic notion of war. he
>goes to the front and sees the reality of the
>battlefield.
>
>about the “Jews issue”, you have two choices: either
>you follow the version in which for some time most of
>the people did not know what was going on in “working
>camps”; or you follow the version – maybe more than a
>version, considering the evidence in film – that the
>local population used to watch the early extermination
>of Jews as part of a Sunday walk, with children and
>dogs, when it was made with shots to the heads and
>burying in mass graves, long before there were gas
>chambers and crematoria.
>
>yet, you might choose to have the issue not affect him
>so much, because he’s young and brave. if he doesn’t
>know, and he’s really naïve, the remark about “rats
>and vermin” would be misplaced. and he would be
>totally shocked when he found out about his new task.
>he would wonder if he had made the right choice, that
>running a “working camp” was not vacations in the
>country as he might have imagined. and he would be
>shocked to realise that Wilhelm is changed but not
>only in appearance. what does he do next? does he
>accept the idea? does he embrace it? or does he go
>numb and go with the flow of events? does he go crazy?
>is there redemption, or he goes beyond redemption? is
>he the hero or the villain? i mean, what is the
>relevance of the story you’re trying to tell?
>
>i see a lot more tension in their reunion, not all
>that amicability. Heinrich does not recognise his
>brother. Wilhelm is tense and cold. is he happy to be
>in the camp? is he happy that his little brother is
>there? how does he feel about “introducing” his little
>brother to that reality? afraid of his reaction,
>afraid of losing his respect, his love? proud?
>
>if they are both all right with everything, then
>there’s not need for comments about the smell and the
>rats and vermin at all. i mean, it should be
>completely matter-of-factly, so why comment?
>
>sorry, i did not mean to go so far, but i can give you
>that, you have opened a can of worms here. as usual,
>feel free to ignore me. :)

I don't mind at all dea!! I just never even thought about how other people would read some of my word choices here. I guess because I have a historical view point, of just portraying an event in history, no matter how disturbing it really is, that it may not be quite as shocking to me. Am I disturbed by what really did happen? You bet I am. I imagine that soon the emotional drain of writing about this will get to me and I'll have to take a break from this for a while. But for right now, I seem to be okay.

Thank you so much for your comments! I really appreciate it.

Fel

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