During World War Two, 131 German cities and towns were targeted by Allied bombs, a good number almost entirely flattened. Six hundred thousand German civilians died a figure twice that of all American war casualties. Seven and a half million Germans were left homeless. Given the astonishing scope of the devastation, W. G. Sebald asks, why does the subject occupy so little space in Germany s cultural memory? On the Natural History of Destruction probes deeply into this ominous silence.
This is one of the most amazing books I have read this year. For numerous reasons. It is in line with the topic of my reading projects and readalong and contains descriptions that I have never read like this. On the other hand it gave me the opportunity to see another side of Sebald. One that I didn’t expect. If you are familiar with his fiction, notably if you have read them in the German original, you know that he is a very challenging writer. His sentences follow a rhythm that is very much his own. He tends to use old-fashioned and also invented words. And as far as I know he is not very humorous. The two essays contained in the German original of this book, the first on the description of the destruction of the German cities in German literature – or rather its absence – and the second on Alfred Andersch are so different from his fiction. The style is fluent, accessible and he is extremely funny. The essay on Andersch made me laugh out loud. Sebald’s analysis and description of this conceited writer is hilarious. But that essay is not the topic of my review. I’d like to focus on Sebald’s Luftkrieg und Literatur whose English title is On the Natural History of Destruction.
The book is based on Sebald’s lectures which he held at the university of Zürich in 1997. Those lectures had the impact of a bomb. What Sebald stated was outrageous and had never before been said like this and analyzed with so much detail and force.
What Sebald does in this book, and that is why it is so amazing, is showing what post-war German literature failed to do and doing it at the same time. It is a reproach and a demonstration how it should have been done. Some of the descriptions are not for the faint-hearted, they are quite gruesome.
When I started to read I was puzzled at first because he wrote that hardly any German writer had tried to describe the enormity of the destruction of the German cities. I thought he was wrong in stating this but soon enough I understood why I thought so. I’ve always loved Heinrich Böll. Especially in my early twenties he was my favourite German writer and I read most of his books, one of them The Silent Angel. For some reasons I didn’t know that this book had been written in the 50s and was never published because editor and writer thought the topic was inappropriate. Together with Gert Ledig’s novel The Payback (possible choice for next year’s Literature and War Readalong), it is the only Western German book that chose the massive bombing and its aftermath as topic. Only, The Silent Angel had to wait almost 40 years for its publication.
Sebald analyzes in great depth why these were two of the few books. If I hadn’t seen the corny TV production Dresden I wouldn’t have had such a good idea about what it meant to bomb a city as radically as the German cities were bombed. That’s why I would urge you to watch Dresden (forget about the romance).
There are a few things that Sebald underlines. First how widely those cities were bombed. The RAF flew 400’000 missions dropping one million tons of bombs on 131 cities, some of which were flattened completely. 600’000 civilians lost their lives, 7’500’000 were homeless.
The second thing Sebald shows is that these are simply numbers. They seem enormous but they don’t let you experience what it meant to have been in one of those cities during the bombing or to have lived in one of them afterwards. There are accounts of this, like in the books of Nossack, but apart from that a lot of the documentation comes from foreign journalists. German writers and diarists hardly mention anything. As mentioned before, one of the rare writers who didn’t shy away from the topic was Gert Ledig. Already his first novel The Stalin Front or Die Stalinorgel depicted explicitly the atrocity of the Eastern Front. In his later work Payback aka Vergeltung he wrote in great details about the destruction. Unlike Böll’s novel, Ledig’s were published but he wasn’t republished and was finally forgotten, even excluded from the collective memory, as Sebald writes.
But what did Germany want to hush up and why?
When you bomb a city like they bombed the big German cities what follows is a huge surface fire followed by a firestorm that will make everything burst, sear and singe everything and was literally an extremely strong wind that blew even bodies away. What this heat does to a body is described by Sebald, mostly quoting Nossack, in gruesome details. What is also described is what happens later in a city full of rotting corpses. Rats will swarm the place. The stink will be insufferable and the flies unbearable.
This massive destruction and its aftermath filled the Germans with shame, according to Sebald. That’s why they didn’t want it mentioned, started to repress it. They even went as far as saying the bombing had a good side. Many of the old buildings would have needed renovating anyway, many of the factories were dated. Rebuilding was cheaper than tearing down and rebuilding afterwards. This is amazing thinking. The Wirtschaftswunder made the rest. The incredible efforts put into rebuilding and the economic growth helped the Germans forget and repress.
On the other hand, as Sebald states, it would have been rich of Germany to complain after having tried to exterminate a whole people and bringing war and destruction on everyone. As proof of this reasoning he mentions that the British never tried to repress the Blitz. It was a topic in books and documentaries and mentioned in various other forms of writing.
This urge to repress could even be seen immediately after the bombings. Sebald quotes Nossack twice on this. He describes a woman who was seen cleaning her windows. The house in which she lived was the only house in the whole neighbourhood that hadn’t been destroyed. He also saw people sitting on a balcony, drinking coffee although the house and those next to theirs were the only ones left intact.
As is usual in Sebald’s books there are a lot of photos which add another dimension to this excellent book. I think this is an absolute must-read for anyone interested in German literature, post-war Germany, the mass destruction of the German cities and the psychological mechanics of repression.
This review is part of German Literature Month – Week I – German Literature.
Don’t forget to visit Lizzy’s blog. Tomorrow she will review Alina Bronsky’s The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine.
62 thoughts on “W.G. Sebald: On the Natural History of Destruction – Luftkrieg und Literatur (1999)”
This sounds amazing and eye-opening. I would love to read it along with The Silent Angel. Most of my war related reading has been from an Allies perspective – the few exceptions I can think of are books about Japan. It would be wonderful to have a glimpse of what happened on the other side.
Nymeth, it really is amazing. It’s unimaginable what it must have been like and that a whole nation just went mute… And those who didn’t were punished for it. It’s very complex. Shame, guilt. When I watche the movie Anonyma – A Woman in Berlin based on the diary of a German woman in Berlin when the Russians came, the mass rape … Still today some Germans said it wasn’t acceptable to say they had been victims, they were not allowed to say so because what they did was too horrible.
The bombing of cities like Dresden, that was really payback and I cannot imagine how helpless one feels as a civilian when that happens…
It a great companion to The Silent Angel.
I’ve seen some of the photos of Berlin. I don’t think there are words to describe it adequately. I have a couple of Sebalds on the shelf that I haven’t got to yet. Not this one though.
Nothing can describe it. I had to swallow hard a few times when reading this, I had no idea.
Sebald is a very special writer. I was amazed about the tone in the second essay. Sarcastic and funny.
This has been written in 1997 (published 1999) and since then Gert Ledig has been reissued and many other people did work on the subject but then it was a sensation.
Fascinating. I didn’t know it was repressed to this point.
I’ve never read Sebald’s fiction, he’s not so famous here and actually I’m not really tempted. (despite all the good things I hear about him)
Have you read Slaughterhouse Five? It’s fantastic.
He is often compared to Proust. I see why and at the same time he is very different.
Not an easy read at all. In German. I don’ think you can translate thim. i read the first pages of Austerlitz in English on amazon… Very different. Fluent. In Germany it’s hard to get into flow. Once you’re there it’s fantastic. Hypnotic almost.
I will read Slaughterhouse-5.
New here… arriving via Bookslut. My German isn’t good enough to tackle Sebald in the original, so I’ll just say that however inadequate the English translations may be, they are still extraordinarily good books. In English too, they are slow to enter and mesmerizing once you’re there.
I haven’t read this one yet but have just ordered it. I’ve been reading quite a lot of war novels lately, and have a couple to suggest: Pat Barker’s WWI trilogy, Regeneration, The Eye in the Door, and The Ghost Road–all three beautifully crafted and very good on the impact of the war on individuals. The scenes on the battle front belong to the same world as Otto Dix. They are classic war novels (Remarque is clearly a model for her), but less sentimental than most.
Also Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon. Not entirely a war novel, because it tells 3 interwoven stories–one in the WWII Pacific theater, one in England and the North Atlantic in WWII, and one in the 1980s in America and the Philippines. The sections on Pacific war are among the best war writing I’ve ever read, very harsh in places. Stephenson got his start writing sci fi, and is not usually taken too seriously, but Cryptonomicon is a seriously good book. He has a tone of ironic distance and uses stylistic flourishes that are not in sync with many of the more directly realist reportage war novels you’ve been looking at, but, like them, he is very honest and refuses to downplay the suffering on all sides.
My third rec is Shohei Ooka’s “Fires on the Plain” (and the stunning film made from it).
All of these books fall within the kind of truth-saying about war that Sebald calls for.
Hello Eve, thanks for visiting. Sebald is a mesmerizing writer, indeed. I want to read his work slowly, one after the other. I just had a look at the beginning of Austerlitz in English and found it easer to read but still very unique.
I have read the Pat Barker trilogy and loved it, and Sebastian Faulks Birdsong which I think is outstanding as well. Those and All Quieton the Western front gave me the idea to my Literature and War readalong.
I’m at present compiling the books for next year, so I’m very grateful for suggestions, I will definitely have a look at Cryptonomicon and Fires on the Plain (the movie as well).
If you would like to join in te readalong that would of course be great.
Cryptonomicon sounds particularly interesting. Max from Pechorin’s Journal did recoomend The Forever War which is a sci fi novel and I thought it was a good idea.The author was in Vietnam and chose to write about it in sci fi form.
Thanks again for your suggestions.
This sounds like something I would really like. I will have to see about getting a copy. Great review!
Thanks, Kailana. It’s an amazing book. I think you should find it in a library. Wouldn’t you like to join our readalong of The Silent Angel? It’s a quick read 180 pages and only due on Saturday 26.
Your review is so good. It has made me very interested in the book. The silence, regarding the devastation that Germany suffered during the war, is indeed problematic.
Thanks, neer. I just think whenever we experience something horrible, it’s so much better when you can talk about it. Repressing has ususally consequences. But on the other hand, that woman who was cleaning her window in a devastated landscape, maybe that was the only way to keep her sanity.
Coming from a city which suffered in the Blitz, I can confirm that we English were not so silent on the topic…
I think the German reaction to the war is an interesting one, but perhaps understandable. In comparison to the Japanese response , for example (which can range from begrudging acknowledgement of fault to flat out denial), the German acceptance of guilt and the need to move on seems sensible. Although I’m not sure that psychologists would agree that repression is the best policy…
In any case, I’m very keen to try Sebald, and I’ve got a copy of ‘Die Ringe des Saturns’ on its way to me – Qantas permitting 😉
Repression was certainly not a good thing and the old spirit did still reign. It took a lot and a long time to change. The Wirtschaftswunder is quite amazing. they built a booming economy out of nothing.
I hope you get your Sebald soon. That is certainly one author you will find worthy of re-reading
Fantastic post, really eye-opening and uncomfortable for me. History is written by the victors, they say, and that’s clear here. Lots of books and novels commemorate the Blitz in the UK, still, all this time later. I was taught at university that the Germans felt so bad about Hitler after the war and the Holocaust that they felt they had no right to complain about anything that happened to them. That’s understandable, but not right. It’s a shame that the allies didn’t make more of an effort to honor Germany’s losses, too. Well, there is so much to learn from war, I guess, not least that it brings out the ugliest behaviours of mankind.
Thanks, Litlove. I think it isn’t a coincidence that someone like Sebald, who chose to live in the UK rather than in Germany wrote a book like that. He was not liked for this.
I find it inadmissible that the fault of a country and/or a government means the individual victim should have no right to talk about the suffering.
It struck me when I heard about the mass rapes of German women by Russian soldiers upon their arrival in Berlin that this was hushed up and to this day, the Germans feel they have nor right to complain. As you say, understandable but not right.
Grass is one in Germany to tackle very uncomfortable topics. This doesn’t go down well very often.
I’m very glad I read this. Sure, Sebald says, the Germans would have flattened London givena a chnace, they would have erased Paris after the war – the plans already existed but that doesn’t mean this wasn’t highly traumatizing for the people.
I ve not read this but have read his novels ,I lived in a town that was bombed during second world war in germany kleve there was an article in papaer my dad showed me when I lived there about a pilot from the raf that went back to kleve as he’d flown missions over it during the war a touching story of the horrors of war ,all the best stu
I can imagine. many of the RAF pilots had a huge problem bombing those cities. They didn’t do it lightly at all and it must have been heavy on their conscience.
Your review communicated very well the power of this book. It’s a controversial position but Sebald articulated it convincingly.
It is powerful, isn’t it? I think he did a very good job. He ceratinly stirred up soemthing and I’ve done some research there have been quite a few publications on this topic since but hardly anything before.
Yeah. I think Böll was all for publishing The Silent Angel, but the publisher turned him down. Some would also argue that The Tin Drum of Günter Grass and Bernhard’s memoirs also contain depiction of destruction from bombing. And Ledig’s novels were finally republished, after Sebald’s essay appeared and, alas, just after Ledig himself died.
The English version of this book, by the way, contains two additional essays on Peter Weiss and Jean Améry.
But not the one on Alfred Andersch? It’s so funny.
I don’t remember how big that part is in The Tin Drum. I don’t think he would have included Bernhard who is Austrian.Ii think he also mentiones there were Eastern German authors writing about it. He is still right, there are not many.
The one on Andersch was also included, so four essays in all.
Strange that they left the other two out in the German edition.
I have never read Andersch, I always thought “Die Rote” – “The redhead” should be quite good. I think he mainly attacks others of his works.
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The bombing of Dresden is the pivot upon which Slaughterhouse Five turns. The book’s complex time-line shifting can be confusing, but it all revolves around Vonnegut’s experience in Dresden and how it relates to modern life as a whole. The film is OK too, perhaps a bit overmuch 70’s Hollywood, but it does retain the book’s themes.
How nice to have you visit! I will have to read Slaughterhouse 5, there is no reason apart from time why I didn’t so far. Thanks for the nudge.
There’s a review on my blog if you’re interested.
I’ve read very little from the German perspective about the war–there is simply so much written from the Allies’ perspective (also until this year I’ve read nothing really about the Italians in the war either), but I did read A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous and it was so horrific yet so matter of factly written–I was shocked on both fronts. Women and children always seem to suffer the most in wars–not just enduring bombings but further physical violations. It’s all nasty business, and very complicated since innocent people on both sides get caught up in it. I’m even more curious now about Böll. I tried to read Sebald (Vertigo) earlier this year, but I must admit I gave up. I just wasn’t quite up for the challenge, but I would be very curious to read him at some point.
Sebald takes time, I agree. This one was a very easy read. I haven’t read A Woman in Berlin because I watched the movie and wanted to let time pass first. Women and children, I agree, they suffer so much. Rape happens in all the wars. It was one of the “features” of the war in Yougoslavia, done on purpose and systematically. Anonyma, the movie is very well done.
I hope you will like Böll’s book. I got the Ledig meanwhile and it’s probably not a good choice for a readalong. Too graphic.
Wonderful review, Caroline! I want to read this book now! It is sad that some events in history are suppressed and sometimes historians and people are silent about uncomfortable things. I remember reading somewhere that when Konnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse Five’ was published, it made some people uncomfortable because it depicted the Allies in poor light. I feel that there are no winners in any war – everyone suffers – and when the history of that war is written it is skewed and one sided and never gives the complete picture.
That’s so true. There has always been a debate whether the bombing of Dresden (Slaughterhouse Five’s topic) was a war crime and I suppose so. It was something so radical,I’m somehow suprised the Germans didn’t go into collective depression.
No. there are not winners in any war. Lord Wellington is quoted as having said after the battle of Waterloo that “Next to a battle lost the saddest thing is a battle won.” I think he is very right.
Sebald’s book is worth reading. And if you are like me you will end up buying other books he mentions.
I have been a little lucky with my wishlist(s), so today I put this on my it. Hope I get it soon. Have a look, if you are interested
Thanks, neer, I will have a look. I hope you find as interesting as I did.
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I Finally have time to read this…I hate fastreading your review, I better wait for a perfect time to fully read it.
I honestly don’t know about such bombing…I mean comparing to Japan bombing, it was tottaly well-known. It must be a tragic book. Reading about that woman and her window must have been so sad. I can’t believe the country is ignoring this sad part of their history. thank you for sharing this Caroline.
That’s so nice of you Novia. I also hate “fastreading”.
It wasn’t much different from what was done in Japan but withouth the A-bomb. They sytematically flattneed al the big cities until there was only rubble left.
In some German cities you can feel that all is new and hardly anthing from before.
How could non a-bomb can do such thing? That must have been one intense bombing 😦
That’s what it was. They dropped down thousands and thousands of bombs and the flames created a storm wind that burned everything down. That’s why people said then and now that it was a war crime. Some cities were flattened. It’s amazing they managed to rebuild it all.
Btw You should enter Lizzy’s crime giveaway.
Great review & discussion, Caroline.
Sebald is one of my writing heroes, I think he’s truly remarkable. I read this a while ago, and I agree that the phenomenon he describes is both surprising and complex. The unacknowledged horror of the bombing and the failure of post-war culture to challenge what was I suppose a political and emotional consensus raise some tough questions.
I can recommend a couple of other books on this topic: The Fire, by Jorg Friedrich and Among The Dead Cities by AC Grayling. The first is an historical account of the bombing campaign, from the perspective of the German population. It’s a tough read as it describes raid after raid and campaign after campaign of truly incomprehensible violence and destruction. So Friedrich is explicitly answering Sebald’s challenge to acknowledge “this happened”. Grayling’s book is an attempt to balance the quality of the act, ie was it moral? was it justified? Grayling has become a bit of a “celeb” writer/philosopher recently but this was writeed possibly 10 years ago and is worth looking for.
He is truly one of a kind. I hesitated for a long time to read him but now that I started with Austerlitz (not finished yet) and this, I really want to read all of him.
The way the bombing was treated in post-war Germany and many other horrors they underwent is unhealthy but they way the victors reacted as well. I think Ledig’s choice of the word Payback is spot-on.
thanks a lot for the recommendations, I want to have a look.
Did you read Böll’s The Silent Angel and/or are you reading along?
I think there should be quite afew people joining. Although… we know how plans go..
It would be great to have.
I haven’t read Böll, but I have finished von Kleist and am trying to write something coherent for Emma to post. I plan to read Visitation as well as i have it on the shelf.
The problem with this initiative is the flood of suggestions and new writers!
More than one person already said they had a feeling is was turning into German Literature Year. It’s always a risk.
I already had a few new addiotion to my stacks. The excellent review of Te Oppermann’s by Alex from The Children’s War, is the last one I got.
I’m looking forwad to your reviews. I hope you get to review Visitation. Not every book triggers interesting reviews but this is one of those who does.
And I also meant to say – the humour in the Andersch essay really didn’t come across to me – probably as I hadn’t heard of him before.
That’s interesting and I do have a feeling the humour was lost in translation.
I had just been reading Ausetrlitz and when I started the Andersch essay I couldn’t believe the tone. So dry and funny, maybe the translator didn’t think it was appropriate and toned it down.
I’m sure as Rise read it as well he would have said something about it.
I have not read Andersch although I have one of his books but they wa he described him, giving bits of his really bad writing… It’ was funny in German.
I know he worked closely with Anthea Bell on translations of Vertigo, The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn and Austerlitz, but I’m not sure of the situation with this book.
I have a collection of interviews with him called The Emergence of Memory that I have been saving reading for a while. And of course there’s always the opportunity to re-read. I believe there is at least one new English translation planned, but I’ve forgotten where I saw the details.
I saw today that the first critical book of his biography and his work came out tis September in German. It’s tad costly but I might get it. the reviews were execllent, It seesm the guy who wrote it was either his assistant at uni or at least one of his students and focuses on all three elemenst, biography, fiction and hist academic work. Sounds very inetersting.
I’m extremely intrigued by his use of photography. It’s fascinating but I cannot fully interpret it.
I hope Emma sees your comments. She is still reluctant to read Sebald.
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I’m fond of Stephenson as much as the next blogger, but I would caution that he can in my view be a slightly flabby writer, and he can’t do endings to save his life. By flabby I mean he doesn’t cut when he should. His books are bursting with invention, with real creativity, but there’s so much of it that the structure can get lost. He needs I think to be more ruthless. Everything cut would be a loss, because he includes llittle that isn’t in its own right excellent, but the whole ceases eventually to be the sum of the parts.
If you dig around mine the (post-)war book I’d particularly recommend is Akira Yoshimura’s One Man’s Justice. I can’t recall now if you saw that one, but it’s about a Japanese war criminal hiding out in post-war Japan. It’s an examination of what it means to be defeated, to be a victor, what makes a war crime (and there’s no question but that he is one), and what makes justice. A tremendous book.
On Sebald, this sounds marvellous but I have his Rings of Saturn as yet unread. That’ll therefore be my first by him.
Thanks for the clarifications on Stephenson. It does sound interesting but I cannot choose such a long book for a readalong. I did it this time and eneded up being the only one finishing it and it was hard. I’ll stick to shorter novels. I wanted to inlcuded Forever War but it’s too special and I want to read it on my owm and pair it with Dave Grossman’s “on killing” which is the first book I have ever seen to touch on this topic. It occurred to me when re-watching The Thin Red Line that soldiers had a real horror of killing before Vietnam.
I wasn’t sufficiently aware of this and the fact that killing for the individual soldier wasn’t that frequent – direct killing I mean.
I wil have a look at your Yoshimura post. It does sound very good but the choice for this year’s Japanese novel will be Masuji Ibuse’s Black Rain.
Of all the novels I chose this year people had the most problems with Endo’s The Sea and Poison.
I have still not finished Austerlitz but I think I want to read all of Sebald. This one is a very quick read, the stely is very different. I saw there is a new German biography of one of his students that should be great. It ananlyzes the man and his work.
Sebald has something Proustian in the way he evokes memory and the past. Settings and temes are different but there is a similar feel. Unfortunately these are not the type of books to be read post-work.
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Just looked back on these comments Caroline.
I just read The Forever War – did you ever get to it?
I also have that Grossman book on the shelf, but I haven’t looked at it yet. It is rare to have a book address the idea of what being trained to kill does to people so directly.
I still didn’t get around to The Forever War and/or Grossmann. I wouldn’t know of any other book looking into this. It’s a topic that is on my mind since I realized that in WWII it was very hard for soldiers to kill. It’s only after whole generations were systematically taught how to do it that it seems to have gotten easier. What a thought!
My understanding is that it’s not so much a generational change, as once the issue was recognised military forces became much better at training people to actually kill. Previously they assumed that if you trained people in how to fight, they would then kill. What changed was the realisation that the training had to show recruits not just how to use their weapons but make them willing to use them.
I see what you mean but I still think we could call it a generational chnage, triggered by an other type of training. I believe that soldiers brought this home and that had an effect on the society as a whole. There is so much more visible violence around usnowadays, that would have been unthinkable in the 40s/50s. Violence found it’s way into popular culture. Don’t you think that this was like a chain reaction? What books and movies like Generation Kill illustrate is that the latest generation of soldiers is even more easily ready to kill or shoot which they do not even connect.
Plus the role of therapy. Soldiers before Vietnam hadn’t learned to speak about what happened to them and what they did.
There’s more visible violence, but that doesn’t mean there’s more violence overall.
Gang violence definitely existed in the UK in the 1950s. Domestic violence was I suspect more widespread, as there were fewer means for women to escape it (and the concept of marital rape was then considered oxymoronic so a woman raped by her husband had literally no legal redress, and would likely be returned home by the police if she complained).
Crime statistics, in the UK anyway, show a long term downward trend in violent crime. Perceptions of the rate of violent crime though have increased. Perceptions don’t necessarily match reality.
I suspect too that a lot of stuff that was always happening is now reported, where once it wasn’t. Child abuse for example. In the 1950s I don’t think the press would have thought it proper to address it as openly as it is now, so leading to victims being silenced.
I’m not persuaded we live in a more violent age. I do think we live in a more prurient age, and as a flipside to that a more honest one. The prurience wasn’t there in the same way in the 1940s and ’50s, but that’s because those were unusual decades. Go back to the penny dreadfuls of the 19th Century and there it is again, together with rates of violence that make today look positively pacificistic.
In a way I think it’s because violence is less common now that it fascinates us. Most of us never actually experience it, but that’s a very recent development. My father’s was the first generation not to know war. Violence now is glamorous and on widespread display precisely because we no longer have real risk of experiencing the reality of it. If the reality were better known I suspect we’d have far less depiction of it in film, tv and games.
Yes I agree that perception and reality are not always aligned. In the case of Switzerland I can assure you crime rates go up and so does violenece but the questions is whether this sin’t because they were less reported. Child abuse was certainly not less frquent before but less known.
I was also living under the impression that the US got far more violent than they used to.
Your father could have been in the Falklands war but I suppose there was no draft. my father being French had the missfrotune of being drafted and served in Algeria. I know what it’s like to grow up with someone with PTSD. And who saw people get killed and had to do it as well.
If you go back in histoty, there were far more violent eras than ours that is for sure.
I think I was mixing up the live of soldiers and civilians. Bottom line of Leroy’s and my dicussion was, based on Grossmann’s book, that soldiers didn’t kill as easily in WWII than in Vietnam.
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Thanks for this interesting blog and also the comments. Sebald was such an outstanding author and it’s such a pity that he left us comparatively early.
I published recently a review of his excellent collection of stories “The Emigrants” on my blog:
He is outstanding I agree. I started reading The Emigrants not too long ago but stopped because I liked it so much and anted to keep it for later but I need to get back to it.
Thanks for the link, I’ll have a look.
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