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Silent Close No. 6 by Monika Maron
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Silent Close No. 6 (1991)

by Monika Maron

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Stille Zeile sechs was written whilst the dust of reunification was still settling, and is clearly meant as a gesture of closure. It deals with the classic problem that (metaphorically, at least), you have to kill your parents to make a revolution. As the only group of Germans with a solid, documented claim to have resisted Hitler, the reactionary generation of Stalinists running the DDR had an even stronger psychological advantage over their children than most, and Maron (who happens to be the step-daughter of a government minister from the early days of the DDR) is essentially saying with this book that it was only the death of her parents' generation that made the reform of the DDR possible, and that her own generation had to deal with this symbolic parricide before it could move on.

The narrator is Rosalind Polkowski, who has given up her academic job researching the early history of the labour movement in Saxony and Thuringia because she can no longer bear to "think for money". Instead, she agrees to take on the relatively mindless task of working as amanuensis two afternoons a week for an elderly man, Herbert Beerenbaum, who is writing his memoirs. Beerenbaum is a communist of the first generation, survivor of concentration camps and Russian exile, and has held important offices in the Workers' and Peasants' State. And of course it becomes increasingly difficult for Rosalind to take dictation and keep her mouth shut as he piles up the lies and platitudes and ignores the harm he has done, particularly when she finds out that Beerenbaum was responsible for hurting one of her own friends.

The big political story of this surprisingly short novel is mixed in with other threads of discussion about the anti-intellectualism of the founding generation of communists, about the male community of the local pub, the geography of Berlin, the untranslatability of Don Giovanni, and much else. Very rewarding and entertaining. ( )
  thorold | Sep 22, 2016 |
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für Jonas
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Beerenbaum wurde auf dem Pankowwer Friedhof beigesetzt, in jenem Teil, der Ehrenhain genannt wurde und in dessen Erde begraben zu werden der Asche so bedeutender Personen wie Beerenbaum vorbehalten war.
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