Essay: Reunion by Fred Uhlman

Appetizer
Heroes 1XP
I think Konradin von Hohenfelds is the hero in the book. It is hard to explain and understand why I believe he is a hero for the simple reason that he is also a follower of Hitler. Konradin is the son of a very rich and aristicratic family in Germany. The background of the story is the rise of Hitler and anti-semitism. Hans is the son of a jewish doctor. The two boys enjoy a special friendship. Konradins family appears to believe in nazi Germany and this puts their friendship at risk. Despite the background differences between the two boys they keep seeing each other. Hans suspects Konradin to be ashamed of him because he doesn’t introduce him to his parents. They argue about this and Konradin tries to explain his situation.

‘ The reason , I swear by all the gods, has nothing to do with being ashamed – it is far more simpler and more unpleasant. My mother comes from a distinguished – once royal – Polish family, and she hates Jews’.

‘And if you want the whole truth: I’ve had to fight for every hour I’ve spent with you; and the worst of all ; I didn’t dare talk to you last night because I didn’t want to hurt you’.

These quotes tell us how difficult and sad the situation is for both boys.
After their dispute Konradin asks Hans to accept him like he is.

‘Please accept me like I am, created by god and by circumstances which I can’t control. I’ve tried to hide it from you’. ‘ Am I responsible for my parents’?

Poem/Songs 1XP

Poem by: Friedrich Holderlin:
When I was a boy”
a god would often rescue me”
from the shouting and violence of humans.”
Then, safe and well, I would play”
with the meadow flowers,”
and heaven’s breezes”
would play with me.”

And as you delight the heart”
of plants, stretching their tender”
arms toward you,”
Father Helios,”
so you delighted my heart,”
and I was your beloved,”
holy Luna, just like Endymion!”

All you faithful”
friendly gods!”
I wish you knew”
how my soul loved you!”

Naturally I couldn’t call you”
by name then, nor did you use”
mine, as humans do, as if”
they really knew each other.”

But I was better acquainted with you”
than I ever was with humans.”
I knew the stillness of the Aether:”
I never understood the words of men.”

The euphony of the rustling”
meadow was my education;”
among flowers I learned to love.”

I grew up”
in the arms of the gods.

H”lderin was the favorite German poet the boys loved best. The two boys share their most private thoughts and trips to the countryside of Germany. They discuss poetry and the past and present of their country.

Are you my friend?
You Say you are my friend”
But i don’t think that’s true.
You never take the time for me
Like i make time for you.
I talk to you and tell you things
But you don’t even react.
A friend would do he would respond,
But you don’t that’s a fact .
I seem not that important to you
as you are , to me.
So I think this is it for us ,
And I will lett you be.
I don’t wanne beg to be your friend
It hurts that you ignore .
If you don’t respond this is the end ,
And i will close that door .
Thanks for the time that we have spent
You gave me happy days.
But if you don’t respond to me
We are going separate ways.

This poem is about friendship between the boys. Konradin is not able to respond because his parents are Nazis and Hans is a Jewish boy. Hans can only visit Konradin’s home when his parents are absent. Finally the rise of Hitler and anti-Semitism forces them to end their friendship and their childhood.

Poem by A. E. Housman

Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.

Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose
But young men think it is,
And we were young.

In this poem Housman talks about the sacrifices young adults make when fighting for their nation. The poem discusses war and death. Konradin is also a victim and died during WW2. He tried to assassinate Hitler but the attack failed and he was executed.

Poem by Jennifer M

Soldiers
are average men
Who do
courageous acts.

Konradin is a German soldier in Nazi Germany. The courageous act in the poem could be that Konradin was implicated in the plot to kill Hitler.

Starters

Similarities and differences 2XP

The main characters Hans and Konradin have very much in common. The two schoolboys, one the son of a Jewish doctor, the other a German aristocrat, discuss poetry and history, the past and present of their country and argue the existence of god. They share the same interest like traveling and collecting coins. At sixteen Hans didn’t really have a friend until the arrival of Konradin and was slightly apart from the other boys in his class. Konradin, also lonely, is like Hans very happy with this new friendship.

The following quote illustrates this similarity; ‘ I can’t remember much of what Konradin said to me that day or what I said to him. All I know is that we walked up and down for hours, like two young lovers, still nervous, still afraid of each other, but somehow I knew that this was only a beginning and that from now on my life would no longer be dull and empty; but full of hope and richness for us both’.

The setting of the story is Stuttgart during the closing years of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Hitler. The very important differences between Konradin (rich and aristocratic) and Hans (a middle class Jewish boy) are the main themes in the book. The background and the history of their families play an important role in the story. Konradins family is a supporter of Hitler on the assumption that this will be the solution for the bad economic situation. The father of Hans thinks that the rise of the Nazis is a temporary illness. But Germany is changing and it comes to a point that Hans was send to the United States.

The following quotes illustrates the differences between Hans and Konradin; ‘You won’t agree with me but I can’t see any other hope for Germany. Our choice is between Stalin and Hitler and I prefer Hitler. I’m sorrier than I can say that for a time there won’t be a place for you in this New Germany. But I can’t see any reason why you shouldn’t come back later. Germany needs people like you. I am convinced that the Fuhrer is perfectly able to choose between the good and the undesirable Jewish elements’.

I presume that you understand that this was an unacceptable point of view for Hans and his family.

At the end of the story you can say that the difference between them is vanished. Konradin was implicated in the plot to kill Hitler and executed. In a review I read that life may sometimes have more than one act. I was impressed by this conclusion.

Main course
History 3XP
I think there is an important historical subject in the book that’s shows a lot of similarities with the historical attack on Hitler called Operation Walk”re. This historical event took place on July the 20th in 1944. The conspiracy against Hitler was an attempt to commit a coup. It was a plan of several officers of the Wehrmacht. The leader of the complot was Hennig van Tresckow, but he couldn’t participate. From this moment on the leadership was in the hands of Colonel Count Claus von Stauffenberg. The complot didn’t succeed because the bomb for the attack was accidently replaced by a German officer. All the officers have been executed.
In the book this historical event plays an important role in the storyline. Konradin was one of the officers and was executed after the attempt. At the end of the story the reader is stunned by the twist in the final paragraph. Hans is surprised and relieved that his best friend led the conspiracy.
‘ What difference would it make if he were dead or alive, since dead or alive I should never see him again? But could I be certain? Was it completely out of the question for the door to open and for him to walk in? And wasn’t I even now listening for his footstep? I took hold of the little book and was on the point of tearing it up, but at the last moment held my hand. Steeling myself, trembling, I opened it at the letter ‘H’ and read, van Hohenfels, Konradin, implicated in the plot to kill Hitler. Executed.’

100 years 3 XP
For sure this book is also a must read book for the young generation in 2017. The book is about a youthful and innocent friendship. A friendship that comes brutal to an end due to different backgrounds of the main characters. This theme is of all ages. These are the things the years ahead will bring, even if their pattern will not be fully the same. The important message ‘that life may sometimes have more than one act’ will always stand. In conclusion this book learns us also that all human creators are equal.
Poem 3XP
Still Listening for his footstep

Two worlds, divided
Two friends, united

Sijtje Burgering

Dark clouds

Walking in the mountains
Seeds for bombing in the air.
Please don’t led me down
And be aware.

Sijtje Burgering

( I think my two poems are beautiful despite the fact that I only have 8 sentences)

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