Friday, May 3, 2019

Belonging

 Belonging: A German Reckons With History and Home, by Nora Krug

This showed up on the new books cart at work and I couldn't resist.  That happens a lot, and it's becoming a problem, because I can't read as fast as I can take books home...so I'm trying to only take the books that I don't have on a list.   It probably isn't helping much, but maybe I can read a lot over the summer.  (I say that every summer and it never works.)  Anyway, this was a graphic novel of sorts, and therefore wouldn't take long...

It's actually more like a scrapbook, collage, and diary.  Nora Krug grew up in Germany, and must be just about exactly my age.  This the record of her struggle with being German in the wake of the 20th century; growing up as a child with this sense of collective shame and guilt, while also not quite understanding what actually happened, and having these blank spaces where family members might have been.  The questions: what did her grandparents actually do...or not do?  How did they feel?  How do you develop a sense of heimat, of your home space, or is that not possible?

As an adult, Krug moved to New York City, married a Jewish guy, and continued to wrestle with her family history  -- her lack of knowledge of it.  This is the record of her search for information, interspersed with memories of childhood, favorite German things (often familiar to me too), and historical items picked up at flea markets.  It's entirely absorbing.

Krug keeps her focus right on World War II, and not a lot else.  There is almost nothing about the split between East and West Germany, though she spent her childhood in it.  There is nothing about reunification, which must have happened when she was about 15 or 16.  This is excellent for the memoir, but I would have been interested.

A really good read.


2 comments:

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

I saw this at the local comic book store when I was traveling for a recent conference, and I had to buy it. I'm so fascinated with how people grapple with their heritages -- it's always complicated and interesting, and this seems particularly so because the history she's exploring is so recent. I can't wait to read it!

Jean said...

Jenny, it was so interesting! I look forward to your thoughts.