Claus Neumann

Why would I, a German, read an autobiography by a German which he wrote in English? Because I am not Neumann's indended audience. He wrote it for his fellow Americans, his countrymen since he arrived there in 1954, to answer their questions about life in East Prussia, being a member of the Hitler Youth, digging trenches on the Eastern Front in WW2 and of being stuck in the newly-Sowjet part of Germany in the years following WW2.

Claus Neumann (born 1929) lived in Germany for 21 years, across Europe as a travelling apprentice and then in the U.S. for 55 years (as of completion if this book).

His countrymen expect him to acknowledge the incomparable guilt which the Germans put on themselves. But they also expect him to spend most of his words on his story - his personal circuumstances and his transformation. Neumann does not speak about racism and fascism in each chapter, but when he does, he puts weight on his words. He mentions hearing about and discussing concentration camps, for instance. One can argue about whether he dealt enough with his families' shortcomings, besides giving some hints, but I won't. Otherwise, he is telling his story to the point, and one can tell that his storytelling is of American nature: picturesque, without unnecessary detours.

This is, for the most part, a fascinating view into a world that is basically dead - the Germans living in East Prussia. Of course there are many people who wrote down a lot of facts and stories. But this account can do without most of those dramatic layers which many who still yearn for their lost home use when they talk about it. This is what I believe makes this a rare and valuable document of history.

# lastedited 11 May 2017
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