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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

EXISTENTIALISM  AND   SURREALISM               483

material of history loosely shaped to a gigantic symbol; it has
been classed as a 'monumental morality'. Tatsachenroman hits it off
best perhaps. The dramatispersonae are types, not characters; and
therefore there is no psychology, but just man in the mass and
massed effects which, as such, are sensational. The colonel of an
armoured division and a gravedigger stand out from the rest. The
gospel presented is that the individual does not exist; what does
exist is Massemenscb (to quote the title of Ernst Toller's play), the
mass made up of men who count only as counters in the mass.
There is the same mood and method in Plievier's following fiction:
Das gefrorene Her% (1945) lashes out at the madness of war; Im
kt^ten Winkel der Erde (1945) exposes the exploitation of labour in
the saltpetre mines of Chile and brings in personal experience of
Chile and its coast as Plievier had done in his earlier novel Zmlf
Mann und em Kapitan (1930) and as he does in Haifiscbe (1949), a
sequel to 1m let^ten Winkel der Erde. Moskau (1952) is on the grand
scale of Stalingrad, but falls below it; even the language has lost
brutality, and there is some attempt at balancing, for both sides of
the front come into the picture. Of the other novels which de-
nounce the war Hinter Gottes R.ucken (1948) by BASTIAN MULLER
(1912- ) has its scene of action in Germany and the occupied
countries in the period 1938-46; the author began as a goatherd
and described his early struggle in Die Eulen (1939). HANS WERNER
RICHTER (1908- ), the son of a fisherman on the island of Usedom,
had a hard struggle with privation in youth; notorious for anti-
Nazi speeches, he had to flee to Paris in 1933, but was driven by
hunger to return to Berlin in 1934. Forced into the army in 1940
he was taken prisoner in 1943 and was sent to a camp in the United
States. On his return to Germany he founded Gruppe 47, a con-
fraternity of writers to which these leftist writers belonged. His
novel Die GesMagenen (1949) begins in Italy; its highlight is the
battle of Monte Casino. WALTER KOLBENHOFF (1908- ), the son of
a labourer, threw up his job as a factory worker when he was
seventeen and tramped Europe as a street singer; afterwards he
was a journalist in Berlin, fled to Denmark in 1933, was pitched
into the German army in 1942, and went through the hells of
Sebastopol, El Alamein and Monte Cassino; in 1944 he was cap-
tured by the Americans, and while a prisoner wrote his novel
Fkisch undftlut (1947); his theme is the misery of those who hate
the Nafcis and are forced to fight; Heimkehr in die Fremde (1949)