About this item
Surviving Berlin is a rare first-hand account of the tumultuous Nazi and post-war years in Germany, and one man’s poignant journey to finding the unvarnished truth. In the most improbable place—the archives of a southern American university, twenty-one-year-old Karl von der Heyden discovered the answer to a question that had plagued him as he came of age in his native Germany: What had his parents known—how much could they have known—about the atrocities that the Nazis had committed? As a student at Duke University in 1957, von der Heyden found issues of the Nazi party's newspaper, Volkischer Beobachter (The People's Observer), dating from 1932 to the end of the Second World War, with its editorials blatantly justifying the organized anti-Semitism; slowly he was able to fill in the gaps that had developed in the silence of his father and mother's generation. In the aftermath of the war, very few Germans spoke about what had happened, and when they allowed themselves to do so, they seemed to lump the horrors of Nazism in with those of wartime survival. Or they placed the blame on Hitler alone. Once Hitler committed suicide, the adults ostensibly moved on psychologically, leaving it to the next generation, the "Kriegskinder," children of war, to bear the shame for the heinous crimes of their country's past, and for their parents' possible participation--whether it was no more than a tacit show of acceptance for the regime. For von der Heyden, his own regret was particularly acute with the knowledge that his father had been a member of the Nazi Party.Equipped with new insights, von der Heyden was equally stunned to see a "parallel injustice" between the experiences of the Jews in Nazi Germany and of the blacks in the segregated South--the North Carolina university itself did not admit African-Americans until 1963. At once affecting and thought-provoking, "Surviving Berlin" is a remarkable story, whose themes are as profound today as they were seventy years ago.
Number of Pages: 191
Genre: Biography + Autobiography, History
Publisher: Itasca Books
Author: Karl M. von der Heyden
Street Date: June 20, 2017
Item Number (DPCI): 248-46-9060