Friday 11 November 2022

The Outsider in the Schellberg Cycle


Roses, Blossoms, Flower, Rose Petals, Fragrance, Plant

Is there in the end actually anywhere a true insider and don’t we always at some time experience ourselves as the other?

There are plenty of examples of “the other” in the Schellberg books.

The House on Schellberg Street

Renate is shocked to find that she is Jewish. She isn’t Jewish enough though to feel comfortable with other Jews and she certainly struggles to feel at home in England. In the end she has to simply accept herself.

The Göddes are not like many other Germans. Hani Gödde in particular cannot be as enthusiastic about the BDM as the other girls.

A school for children with disabilities and learning difficulties continues in the house on Schellberg Street.

Clara’s Story

Clara has to give up being Jewish. She never quite fits into the Gentile world and isn’t 100% attached to Steiner‘s teaching. She shelters what the Nazis would call defective children in her home.  

Girl in a Smart Uniform  

Gisela is at first an enthusiastic member of the Nazi regime. It can’t last however; her stepbrother has Down syndrome and she is a lesbian. She and her partner find sanctuary in the Netherlands but unfortunately there they are seen as being too German.

Face to Face with the Führer

Käthe is unusual; she studies science at university, unheard of for a woman in her day, she is the first woman to get her driving license in Munich and she learns to use a gun.    

The Class Letter

Renate’s former class mates are naïve. They have to face the horror of what the Nazi regime has brought. At the same time however, a gentle feminist rebellion takes place. Each of the girls featured does something a little unusual.

One girl goes to agricultural college and becomes a farmer.

Another becomes an actor and works in an underground theatre satirizing Hitler’s regime.

Twin sisters take over the management of their father’s firm after he died suddenly.

Their former class teacher refuses to teach the Nazi curriculum and has to give up being a teacher.

I Am of This Land

Blond-haired Jewess Helga survives Nazi Germany only to face more prejudice in her new home.  Even as she lived in hiding with other Jews she felt herself to be different.  

Gabriela’s story

She is different from her family anyway.  She is artistic and has Mediterranean looks. She mixes with artists and musicians.  And she joins the German resistance.


There is so much “otherness” here that the “other” becomes the normal. Is there something to be learnt about how we respond to the strange? Should we not welcome the novelty of it rather than fear it? Isn’t it our fear that leads to division?         


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