BACK TO BERLIN by V. B. Carleton


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If I allow myself to hate the Germans, then I am hating myself. If I cry out 'I am not a German but a Jew'- then I am saying to the world 'Hitler was right.'""- this is said to Eric Devon (ne Erich Dalburg) by a former friend when Devon returns to his birthplace, Berlin, for the first time since leaving Germany. It also proves to be the answer to the conflict which has brought Devon to the edge of a breakdown at the time this story begins- aboard a boat to England- when the author met the Devons and became their intimate friend. For in the years since Eric left Germany to become an English citizen, he had completely repudiated his German background. Encouraged by his wife, and the author, he agrees to return to Berlin and to the family (only part Jewish) he had not contacted since the war; his Aunt, his cousin Kathe (""I never thought you'd have the guts to come back. You were always a coward"") who had lost her husband in the Resistance as well as a child; and some of their mutual friends. He found that Germany had not changed materially; the Wehrmacht has been rebuilt; Fascism is more than a memory; ""that Jew-Park"" Belsen attests to the enduring feeling of anti-Semitism; and along with the general denial of culpability, there is a complete cultural sterility. For Devon the story ends a year after his first visit, when he returns to stay-to assume the responsibility for what had once happened here by trying to see that it will not happen again, and in so doing he absolves the guilt which had made his assimilation in another country impossible....A highly personal story reaches an individual solution to the problem of the man without a country, one which- while unacceptable as it would be to most of the people who left Germany- is still a considerable challenge. And while this is primarily Devon's story, in terms of sites revisited and contacts renewed, the broader view of Germany today is a disheartening one.

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 1959
Publisher: Little, Brown-A.M.P.