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Heinrich Böll

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Where were you Adam?

Heinrich Böll
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1917-1985

Had a particularly happy childhood. Parents were devout Catholics Böll was highly spiritual but rejected institutionalized religion Father was a carpenter Both parents treated children with respect and tolerance. Taught children to live by character alone Middle Class Education: Köln Went to Gymnasium; wanted to study literature but it called for party membership Someone intervened: only in uniform for 2 weeks Arbeitsdienst: Labor Service told it would last 6 weeks, it lasted 6 years. Throughout the entire period he hoped that Germany would lose the war. Never went beyond the rank of corporal (unusual (usually the Gymnasium students were automatically lieutenants. He saw to it that he was always demoted. He had a disdain for rank and medals. 1940 Wounded in Poland; transferred & injured in France 1942 Married childhood sweetheart, Anna Marie Transferred to Eastern Front injured again, sent to hospital at Odessa Tried by malingering to avoid further service Wife injected him with a serum to treat syphilis so that he could be hospitalized Went into hiding then went to the front to avoid endangering his family. Entire time he never fired a shot POW April 9 1945 - two weeks later the war was over Experienced the Weimar Republic / End of WWI/ ascent of Nazism Hunger, poverty, Treaty of Versailles Germany’s Shame Won Nobel Prize in 1972 for Books about WWII. Decent man, just wanted to make it through the war. He knew only of the Holocaust at the end of the war. Quote from diaries: “ I believe one of the most important principles in judging literature is to project oneself into the time period ...into the mind of the Nazi arrogance. “ Slips into the psyche of the characters Detailed picture of the people who fought both actively and passively: from fanatics to draftees. Books published in the 50s when collective guilt was an issue: Böll said this was not true: it would be immoral to blame everyone.

Historical Background
• People didn’t want to know the facts” Just functionaries. • Traditionally, officers were former aristocrats (Took an oath) • Wannsee Conference 1942. Top Nazis meet: Final Solution.

Heinrich Böll:

Where were you Adam?

• Bombardments. Main targets were industrial /strategic. (Why Dresden) Resistance was not a cohesive movement . Strong in Holland and France but in Germany they were fighting their own government. (Protestants vs. Catholics vs. Communists, Athiests) Catholics did not interfere with Nazism. • 1933 Concordat-Treaty between the Vatican and Germany. PIUS XI: Spoke in generalities. Did not take a firm stand in public. Galen ( Bishop of Münster) spoke against Euthanasia. It stopped. • Protestant Church (Deutscher Christians) went along with Hitler. (Confessing Christians) against Nazi Regime Niemöller / Bonhoffer hung and executed. • Communists were active (Rote Capella) most effective Red Orchestra. • Students and academics; i.e. Weiße Rose (Maximillian University) Münster Bouquet of White roses today honor the Scholl family ( Sophie Scholl) arrested / killed by guillotine. • Army: Several (55) attempts on Hitler’s life. • Count Klaus von Stauffenberg. • Too many different opinions. • Count Von Moulten • 1945 BRD / May 1949 Konrad Adenauer, first Chancellor • SS Black Uniforms / Waffen SS Fighting Army • Most officers came to US as scientists, etc. • Bertold Brecht: Scientists have no conscience Play: Galileo • SA: Many Homosexuals (Milch) Jewish / Göring “I determine who is Jewish”

Where were you Adam?
• • • • • • • • • • • • No Linear Structure: Montage technique (patchwork quilt) War is chaos / No order / unstructured kaleidoscope Question of Moral Responsibility Entire book took 5 months Fall of 1944 to Spring of 1945 From Rumania to Hungary / Slovakia/ Germany --- Americans arrive NO ALL KNOWING NARRATOR In order to understand a political system, one must project oneself into that system and into the mind of the individual character. Good Picture of war: Open to interpretation The purpose of a war novel is to present a philosophical viewpoint; a meaningful pattern Pessimistic: no social causes First scene sets the tone, stage, introduces main characters

Recurring Symbols / Leitmotiv • Cup (Mother would treat guests with a cup of coffee or tea} In {Adam,{ the cup suggests the opposite... SYMBOLISM: dehumanization • Colors: apricot, yellow, blue • Alcohol: Schnapps. Champagne

Heinrich Böll:

Where were you Adam?

• Shells (Most Predominant Leitmotiv • Pictures • Byelygorsche • Medals: Meaningless trash: Distributed more as defeat becomes imminent. • Hospital: The absurdity of war • Decorations: Manifestation of war • Yellow coffin: (Feinhals) • Faith • Impatience

Characters General • General w/ yellow face commands shooting of Jews while singing • Big jaw / Black Hair • Interested in the arts • Mechanized and perverted art • Kafkaesque: lived up to ideal in art • Der Sturme: Nazi Propaganda: Distorted view of Aryan People. Naive Soldier: FEINHALS • Reminds us of Böll • Autobiographical elements ( Wants to stay as uninvolved as possible) • Killed by one of his own because of mother’s white tablecloth • Army is one big beaurocratic machine that functions lethargically • NO HEROES: NO NEED FOR HEROES • ordinary background / architect • put into hospital to draw maps • Loves Ilona even after he discovers she is a Jew • “Are we like animals?” YES • tired, apathetic, tries to remain as uninvolved as possible; loner • We have to pray to give God a chance • Lost faith but goes through the motions • Search & Wait: Existentialism • Family home of no strategic importance • COFFIN: Symbol of what will happen to Feinhals\ • Visits Finks family • Can’t bring himself to tell them of Fink’s Death • PTSD: Shell shocked, anxiety, depression BRESSEN • Yells for champagne • Modest Background but aristocratic features / Maitre’D • Fakes illness when he sees the war is ending • War enabled him to rise through the ranks • Champagne, girls

Heinrich Böll:

Where were you Adam?

• Feared by innkeeper (Walked in on Bressen in compromising position (possibly homoseual) BAUER • Byelogorsche : Dies of head wound • Injured: went over landmine w/o helmet • Helmet stands for safety & protection • Sold sweaters (middle of the line) not very successful • Never cheated on wife who had cancer GRECK • Chronic Stomach Condition / Nausea, Disgust • Sells pants to Jewish Tailor to defy mother (No contact between Germans & jews) • Family barely survived • Mother always served potato salad / bad diet cause of chronic disorder • LEITMOTIV: Denial • Officer because he went to the gymnasium • Father was a doctor • monotonous: torments and humiliation • rebellion: swing boat • Defiance • Repetitive behavior: always washing hands : Preoccupied with dirt • only character who referred to the Jews as dirty • restlessly moving around • spent money on prostitutes • humiliating, degrading death: glaring contrast to hero’s death SCHNEIDER • Sergeant, drinks apricot schnapps methodically • Killed during Russian attack, stepped on dud while walking towards tanks with flag SCHMITZ • Dr Stayed with Schneider to be with patients • No camaraderie • Killed during Russian attack SZARKA • Produce girl about 15 ILONA • Extremely religious / Converted Jew / English Teacher • Prays to “console God” • Must hold onto faith • Captured by Germans on her way to visit her family. • Sings Classic German music in Filskeit’s choir / Shot to death FINK • Buys wine for Bressen • Fears Bressen... for his life PLORIN /SCHRÖDER • Blind Obedience • Non questioning functionaries • Follow orders

Heinrich Böll:

Where were you Adam?

• holding on to normalcy (eating lunch while transporting Jewish prisoners • Engine - Machine (Army) • Indifference / Fear SUCHAN & MARIA • Slovakia • Normalcy Storyline Bridge - Slovakia : Tranquil Pastoral Soldiers sit & watch and wait Build Bridge / Blown Up again Pointless absurdity of war • General w/ yellow face commands shooting of Jews while singing Fanatic: FILSKEIT • General w/ yellow face commands shooting of Jews while singing