What Will Become of the Children?

What Will Become of the Children?

A Novel of a German Family in the Twilight of Weimar Berlin

Claire Bergmann

Translated by Richard Bodek

Introduction by Richard Bodek

Lost novel of a "typical" German family in the waning days of the Weimar Republic.
1932, the eve of the Nazi seizure of power: Germany beset with street violence, hunger, anti-Semitism, and despair; civil war threatens. The "typical" Deutsch family fights to survive. The story begins with Pitt Deutsch, inventor and self-made millionaire, whose millions evaporate in the hyperinflation, then follows Deutsch's seven children in their struggles with poverty and indignity: Klara, broken by her efforts to support the family; Susi, mistress of a businessman, reduced to bringing home extra food; Peter, an unemployed chemist, suicidally depressed; Max, who falls in love with a Jewish woman, encountering Germany's growing anti-Semitism first hand. The two youngest brothers, unemployed and undereducated, become Nazis.
Claire Bergmann's novel was positively reviewed by some of Germany's most prominent critics, including Hans Fallada and Siegfried Kracauer. Not surprisingly, given the work's democratic leanings, it was banned soon after the Nazi regime began to exert total control. Bergmann never wrote another book, disappearing from sight in 1935. This first English translation will find an immediate reception among readers interested in the end of Weimar and the rise of the Nazis. It is a message in a bottle from the last moment when German democracy's survival seemed possible.

Richard Bodek is Professor of History at the College of Charleston, South Carolina. His book Proletarian Performance in Weimar Berlin was published by Camden House in 1997.

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From reviews of the original German edition of 1932:
Captures precisely the normal German people of today. It is not a novel of poverty. People chat, debate, and celebrate. Somebody is shot. People wait, live, complain, are beaten up, and are loved -- pitch perfect. --Hans Fallada

A picture of the times from the prewar period up through they year 1932, embracing above all the fate of the middle-class generation after the [First World] War.... The book speaks to the reader. --Siegfried Kracauer

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