The Silences of HammersteinBy Hans Magnus Enzensberger
"The Silences of Hammerstein", the latest work from one of Germany's most significant contemporary authors, engages readers with a blend of documentary, collage, narration, and fictional interviews. The gripping plot revolves around the experiences of real-life German General Kurt von Hammerstein and his wife and children. A member of an old military family, a brilliant staff officer, and the last commander of the German army before Hitler seized power, Hammerstein, who died in 1943 before Hitler's defeat, was nevertheless an idiosyncratic character. Too old to be a resister, he retained an independence of mind that was shared by his children: three of his daughters joined the Communist Party, and two of his sons risked their lives in the July 1944 plot against Hitler and were subsequently on the run until the end of the war. Hammerstein never criticized his children for their activities, and he maintained contacts with the Communists himself and foresaw the disastrous end of Hitler's dictatorship. In "The Silences of Hammerstein", Hans Magnus Enzensberger offers a brilliant and unorthodox account of the military milieu whose acquiescence to Nazism consolidated Hitler's power - and of the heroic few who refused to share in the spoils.