Translated by Setareh Notaj in Persian, Tehran-based Qoqnoos Publishing Group has released the book, originally published in 2008.
This novel by the German writer Walter Kempowski, who died in 2007, is influenced by his mighty collection of diaries, letters and memoirs, Das Echolot (Echo Soundings), a 10-volume collage of the collective German experience throughout the Second World War. He began work on the project after finding some old photographs and letters lying in the street, and deciding to “bend down and pick up” the testimonies of all, from concentration camp prisoners to the Reich’s high command – leaving nothing out, simply presenting.
It follows the fortunes of a family in East Prussia, between January and May 1945. In January 1945, as the German army retreats from the Russian advance in East Prussia, a wealthy family seal themselves into their manor house. They are cut off from the chaos around them – until they decide to shelter a stranger for the night. Kempowski’s atmospheric novel powerfully conveys the delusions and indecision of the last days of the Third Reich.
Kempowski was known for his series of novels called German Chronicle (“Deutsche Chronik”) and the monumental Echolot (“Sonar”), a collage of autobiographical reports, letters and other documents by contemporary witnesses of the Second World War.
Kempowski’s first success as an author was the autobiographic novel Tadellöser und Wolf, in which he described his youth in Nazi Germany from the viewpoint of a well-off middle-class family. In several more books, he completed the story of his family from the early 20th century into the late 1950s.