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Friedrich (1961)

by Hans Peter Richter

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8401519,282 (3.58)1 / 14
A young German boy recounts the fate of his best friend, a Jew, during the Nazi regime.
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English (11)  German (3)  Catalan (1)  All languages (15)
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00009533
  lcslibrarian | Aug 13, 2020 |
The nameless narrator recounts a series of memories that illuminate Friedrich's story as a Jew in German society during the thirties and early forties. There is no concentration camp or ghetto in this narrative, but rather the gradual discrimination that the family endures, never believing that there is a real threat; never in this century could people revert to the savagery of the middle ages.

The narrator explains what he did, what he thought, how the friendship grew & changed, but never seemed to feel guilty or really torn for not doing much to make a difference. There were no lessons learned,no predictable character growth which sets this apart from much young adult fiction out there. I liked the fact that the protagonist and his family had no names, as they didn't do anything truly honorable, and it's the Schneiders who will be remembered. One would expect the story to be narrated from Friedrich's point of view, but Richter's choice of making his friend tell the story is much more poignant, lending insight into how such events were even possible.

There were no scenes to make your stomach turn, fortunately, but enough information to ignite fury. Ultimately, this novel shows the persecution of the jews from a gentile perspective, of a gentile who disagrees with what's happening but doesn't have the motivation to object or pass up the benefits of joining along (the more common story). Nothing extraordinary to aspire to here--more humdrum real life and boy does it suck sometimes.

( )
1 vote engpunk77 | Aug 10, 2015 |
  justwordedlines | Apr 4, 2015 |
Read during Summer 2002

A very powerful story of pre and WWII Germany. It starts as a series of vignettes of two families; One Christian and one Jewish, who live in the same apartment house. The two boys are the same age and they and their families become friends but the prejudice that would fuel the Nazi party and the Holocaust is already starting. I find often that the children's books about the Holocaust are often more compelling since they can be so straight forward. Horrible in a way that teaches but does not lecture and is not sensational.
  amyem58 | Jul 14, 2014 |
You may be inclined to ask what more can be said about the horrors of the holocaust. If so, then read this book.

While somewhat slow in pace, hanging in there will bring reward. In fact, the pace appears deliberate and analogous to the creeping dangers of the Nazi party, that when in full horrific elevation many looked back and realized the day to day progress as one denial after another slowly happened to Jews.

This story is told by Hans whose family is struggling. Out of work in a post WWII German economy, Hans' father worries about how to feed his wife and son. Above them lives his friend Friedrich who is Jewish His father is a government worker with a stable job. Generous with his resources, Friedrich's family graciously assists where and whenever they can.

As the Nazi party takes hold, Han discovers that his father has a very lucrative job. Joining the Jungvolk, Hans is enamored with a sense of purpose and belonging. When Friedrich is denied education, his father losses his job and the Nazi's destroy their apartment, killing Friedrich's mother, Han and his family must make a moral decision to help.

They do so reluctantly but not at the level that would place their status in a precarious manner.

Not wanting to spoil the ending, I'll simply say I encourage you to find a copy and read it. ( )
2 vote Whisper1 | Sep 27, 2011 |
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Someone had called him Polycarp, and he kept this name all the time he ruled over our front garden.
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A young German boy recounts the fate of his best friend, a Jew, during the Nazi regime.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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