BAVARIAN STORY by Ethel Mannin


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A story told on a pre-war and post-war level, the setting a Bavarian village near Munich, the characters those anti-Nazis who suffered first at the hands of the blustering newcomers to power, then -- with their fellow-Germans, the aftermath of war and the occupation. The first two thirds of the book, with a closeup of the brooding menace of Nazism, the mockery made of things sacred, the enforcing of membership in various state organizations, the interference with liberty of thought and action, recalls rather vividly the atmosphere and mood of Feuchtwanger's memorable The Oppermanns, and reminds us that the insidious worm of totalitarianism operates by devious methods. Miss Mannin's earlier Late Have I Loved Thee, while wholly different in theme and setting, shares with this the dominance of the Catholic theme -- in Bavarian Story a vital factor in life and death. Gabriel Weber, organist and music teacher, tied to a good-for-nothing wife, and the tenuous, almost fragmentary love story in which young Lucia Freyer plays the part of a silent, worshipping girl who knows marriage is not to be mentioned, provides the central theme. Weber is railroaded into Dachau, and eventually -- in part II (after the war) reappears, a changed and saddened man. How much of the change is due to his war experiences, how much to his discovery that Lucia has an American G.I. admirer, the Freyers do not know. And when Lucia becomes engaged to Michael Gerathy, Gabriel is silenced. But not the priests. It is really their intervention that ultimately persuades Michael to make the break -- and shoulder the onus of faithlessness to love. An unconvincing finale, for a story that has much to recommend it in its faithful portrait of village people caught in the maw of a system -- and a war.

Pub Date: June 23rd, 1950
Publisher: Appleton-Century-Crofts