An affecting memoir from Kuehn--a survivor of WW II-torn Berlin, and a writer of obvious depth and talent. What made Kuehn...

READ REVIEW

MIXED BLESSINGS: An Almost Ordinary Life in Hitler's Germany

An affecting memoir from Kuehn--a survivor of WW II-torn Berlin, and a writer of obvious depth and talent. What made Kuehn ""almost ordinary"" was that he was half-Jewish and half-Catholic in a land where either half might have been sufficient for condemnation. Instead, Kuehn was able to mix into the society, having been granted one of those ghastly Nazi designations: ""Mixed Breed of the First Degree."" Though he detested the Hitler regime as ""uncouth, mindless, and blusterous,"" he never thought of fleeing the country. Instead, he volunteered for military service and was assigned to the Labor Service five months prior to the war's onset. But on weekends, he worked in a Benedictine priory: ""I was the wanderer between both worlds, the world of an isolated Benedictine convent and the world of the German capital drunk with. . .the Germanic lust for battle."" Kuehn writes in a most evocative style of the images that surrounded his haunted life. In a scene right out of Cabaret, he helps a dance-hall girl to button up her gown while she queries him, ""They tell me you are a Jew""--causing his heart to pound until she assures him that it doesn't matter to her. In a time of food shortages, Kuehn learns to make the most of potatoes, preparing a wide variety of potato soups, ""from broth-like liquidity to pastelike density."" And--in a particularly gripping image--he describes how the meter of a Holderlin poem recited in the classroom would be cadenced by the beat of combat boots on cobbled pavements outside. Later, Kuehn writes of his emigration to Milwaukee and his determined mastery of English that carried him from the factories of Wisconsin to editorial work. An artfully written work that depicts a life lived quietly within the drama of battles and politics.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1988

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Univ. of Georgia Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988