This story does in the end combine three of the elements that are represented by the Schellberg cycle. It is fiction and it is fiction about the Holocaust. It presents survival. The school for disabled children that is held in the cellar of the house on Schellberg Street survives. Clara Lehrs, who own the house, unfortunately, becomes a victim of the Holocaust.
The girl in a smart uniform is a young German woman making her way up through the BDM, the girls equivalent of the Hitler youth. That uniform must have given a real sense of pride to the young women who wore them. Germany may have been going through a depression but the skirts were calf-length and generous in their cut. The little flying jacket was modem and exciting. The white shirt was extremely smart. Those that could afford the great coat would have looked very sophisticated indeed. It seems a smart organisation, too, as the girls get a strong sense of camaraderie and duty. They are taught to be good German women. They aspire to great futures as housewives in a Germany restored to glory.
Gisela and Trudi admire the glamorous SS women and in fact they liaise with a charismatic SS officer. They become important.
Until they see through it all.
I wrote the book to explore why all of that happened back then and how it could have been orchestrated by ordinary German people. I’m not sure I succeeded. I gave the two girls a really good reason for rebelling against the Nazi regime. Perhaps they aren’t ordinary Germans anyway in the eyes of the Nazis. Gisela and Trudi are lesbians. Gisela’s brother is Down syndrome.
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