“Meines Vaters Land. Geschichte einer deutschen Familie” by Wibke Bruhns
6th edition published in 2006 by Ullstein, 412 pages

The last book for this year.

Wibke Bruhns, a journalist (and the first female anchorwoman of the ZDF), watches a report on TV about the July 20th plot of 1944 and the trials before the People’s Court where she suddenly faces her father, Hans Georg Klamroth. He was sentenced to death and executed in 1944 when she was about six years old.

Seeing him on TV she realizes how little she knows about him which motivates her to  get to know him. She starts a travel into the family’s past during which she introduces her paternal family to us, a wealthy mercantile family in Halberstadt which she compares to the Buddenbrocks. They wrote a lot – letters, diaries – which built the main source for her search.

Bruhns focuses mainly on her paternal grandparents and her parents, and tells us about their lives and point of views.

It is indeed a fascinating book, especially as she can cite from so many written material on which basis she draws a portrait of three generations, including her older siblings. It is a very personal book as well: her attempt to get to know her father, questioning and dealing with his actions, especially his militarism and enthusiasm during WWI.

And these passages became tiresome for me after a while: she interprets and comments his behavior and thus leaves not really space and need for the  reader to build an own interpretation or opinion. Luckily this changes through the book.

The first three sentences:

“ICH HABE EIN FOTO VON MEINEM VATER GEFUNDEN. Es gibt Hunderte – in Alben, in Umschlägen, verstreut zwischen Tagebüchern, Zeugnissen, Briefen. Hans Georg als Kind, als ernster Halbwüchsiger, in Uniform im Ersten und im Zweiten Weltkrieg, als Ehemann, als Kaufmann, als Vater mit uns Kindern.”