Sunday, October 30, 2011

City of Stones

German history is a big hobby of mine, especially the years 1914-1945. So when I saw Berlin - City of Stone by Jason Lutes at the library, I was immediately interested: a comic about Berlin during the Weimarer Republik, very tumultuous years all over Germany and in Berlin in particular.
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The story follows Marthe Müller, an art student who moves to Berlin, and Kurt Severing, a journalist writing for the Weltbühne. We also get to know a worker family, a Jewish family and in the second book a group of African-American jazz musicians. Berlin was an exciting city at the time, where you could see and experience things not found anywhere else in Germany. It was also a city of shocking poverty and misery. City of Stones captures both.

We also get to meet quite a few historical characters, it was fun to see who I recognised. Kurt Tucholsky, Carl von Ossietzky and Joachim Ringelnatz (see below) for example.
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The Weimarer Republik was never stable and violent fights in the streets were common. One of the worst of such fights, the massacre on 1 May 1929 (Blutmai, Bloody May), is shown at the end of the book and I got a kick out of seeing a DZVR 21, an armoured vehicle used by the police at the time. I saw one at the Panzermuseum and I thought at the time that it must have been a terrifying sight when one of those appeared, especially at a time where cars where not all that ubiquitous and common.
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I thoroughly enjoyed reading both City of Stones and City of Smokes and I'm looking forward to the third and final book of the series. For anyone with an interest in that time or someone who wishes to learn about it, I absolutely recommend those books.

41st book for the Library Challenge

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