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This book is an illustrated/graphic memoir as the author endeavours to learn more about her grandparents and their role in Nazi Germany. An interesting way to tell a story, but it is not that insightful.
In Belonging, German emigre Nora Krug grapples with her bloodline as she investigates her family's history during World War II and the complex nature of German identity. She has been told stories about her family during the war ("Grandpa was never a member of the Nazi Party, he hid his Jewish friend in a garden shed behind his house!"), but what is true and what is the gloss of a people doing what they can to downplay their role in one of history's most horrific periods? This is a fascinating read with a fresh point-of-view and Krug never lets up in her quest for the truth, even when the truth is upsetting. Krug's blend of illustration, collage, and text makes for a tremendously innovative and moving work of graphic non-fiction.
Marvellous interview with Steve Paikin on The Agenda. May 22,2019
She is German, an illustrator, married to a Jew. (S Paikin part Jewish) attractive, so well spoken.
Coming to grips with her heritage , and sees similar in the USA , where she lives , and the rise of the Far Right there.
Nora Krug, born in Germany, now lives in the United States. Growing up in Karlsruhe, she struggled to understand her country's actions during World War II and the Holocaust. As an adult, she resolved to get answers about her own family's involvement in the war. This graphic novel, interspersed with family photos and war memorabilia, is the result. I especially enjoyed the eight short chapters on German items that she still misses from home.
As someone with German ancestry, I had many of the same questions as the author, albeit on not so personal a level. Her search, her discoveries, and her reactions to those discoveries were very poignant and moving. I absolutely loved the graphic format! Her handwriting, along with the documents, pictures, and drawings, all added immensely to the emotional impact this book had on me. I will seek out more books done in this style.
This one is a knockout. I've been interested since childhood in WW2, the Holocaust, and the story of how many German people could have enabled and helped Hitler and his thugs to kill millions of Jews. Krug sews many different threads--her shame at being German, the way she was educated about WW2, her mixed feelings about home and her heritage. In particular, she visits Germany (she now lives in the US) to consult local archives about her mother's father, talks to family members, and gets as close to the truth as she can.
Krug is also a cartoonist and graphic artist, and this book is a beautiful piece of creativity, filled with drawings, paintings, and family photographs. As I read the book, it reminded me of a recent thought I've had about history--that our family's history and our country's history still lives within us, no matter who we are. The past doesn't die. I admire Krug's hard work to find what she could, to face the truth and make peace with her place in the world.
The drawings and photographs in this historical graphic novels bring the subject to life. I've read extensively on WWII and the Holocaust and have often wondered about the average German citizen- what rolls they played in this nightmare. This is the story of one woman's journey to find out what her grandparents did or didn't do...
Must write a detailed review later but I have many, many thoughts.
- It seems the author's central motivator is ascertaining what amount of guilt and shame she feels (personally, ancestrally, culturally) is actually hers. Along the way, the actual suffering of Jewish people in WWII (including intergenerational suffering for their descendants, some of whom she interviews) becomes a backdrop.
- The illustrations of anti-Semitism make me wonder, who is this book for? If this was a memoir of a Japanese person, detailing their ancestors' involvement in the genocide/colonization of my indigenous Uchinanchu ancestors, I would be traumatized by the photographs of my ancestors' dead bodies in the background of photographs that foreground their brutalizers. There are ways for someone in Krug’s position to share these realities respectfully, and I don’t feel that she does so.
- The valuable questions that are raised by this memoir came afterward, from conversations with others. The author's questions seem to focus obsessively on how relieved or disappointed she feels, as she uncovers new information and sorts the truth from apologist family lore.
- The art (mixed media collage and illustration) is undeniably powerful. The author's handles a complex web of family history deftly, despite its twists and turns.
- I'm glad I read this, but was deeply disappointed by where the author's focus lay. I don't know how to recommend this to others, unless they were interested in reading a societally-powerful person's insufficient grappling with shame, or a meditation on collective shame that has little to do with meaningful reparation/accountability. I think this narrative meant to tease apart the crucial nuance between guilt and shame, but these aren’t thoughtfully explored — instead, Krug’s need to know just what her ancestors did or did not do overwhelms the stories, and is resolved only after barreling past a tremendous amount of trauma (those of Jewish folks, and also her dad’s obviously traumatic relationship with his sister).
- Did anyone else think it was very inappropriate for her to join a group of German & Austrian Jews, in hopes that they will love her like a granddaughter?? I was shocked and grossed out.
A totally unique story presentation combining so many techniques. Successfully. Also a part of history that younger generations are losing awareness of, but it's important they don't. A quick and different read. I strongly recommend it.