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  1. We Germans is a thoughtful novel. It takes the form of a letter from a former German soldier who had fought on the Eastern front in World War II, answering his Scottish grandson Callum's question about what life was like in the War. And interleaved are Callum's reflections, now an adult remembering his deceased grandfather. This is an extremely nuanced narrative point of view. It is unusual to hear a German perspective from World War II, but this clearly is a narration that the reader should assume has been sanitised by the grandfather. So we have a grandfather who is repentant at having stolen food from starving Russian peasants, but who scarcely mentions the deathcamps. There is almost no mention of the Nazis, the German government, the deathcamps. At one point, the Grandfather recalls that the main difference between his own comrades and the Russians was the shade of green of their uniforms. Now perhaps a naive soldier at the time might have been oblivious to the politics, but it is simply not conceivable that an elderly German looking back at the War would think that the politics - the genocide - was not worth a mention. This looks like a man who is admitting to letter offences to avoid responsibility for the big thing. There is narrative about the campaign in Poland and the Ukraine; the degeneration from theft through to combat and killing. There is a story about soldiers who are detached from their Regiment trying to decide whether it would be better to be captured by the Russians or by their own side. There are issues of officers living the high life while the troops starve. This is all written in rather plain, almost journalistic prose. This can create a rather sterile feel, but adds to the feeling that this is a carefully rehearsed story. The lingering impression is an elderly man pretending to offer an honest analysis while willfully denying any stake in the Kollektivmitschuld - while his grandson clings to the belief that his grandfather was an honorable man. ****0
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