Yeah, I commented on that quite a while ago -- the fact that I kind of feel sorry for Tim, who is dealing with all these people who apparently want to make Dieter see the error of his ways. Hence all the argumentative questions and condemnations of Nazis and talking about how awful bigotry and genocide is, as if they were actually conversing with an individual whose mind can be changed, and not with a fictional character whose personality is entirely the author's creation. And Dieter is fixed at a particular point in time, before WWII and the Holocaust. Of course he doesn't have an opinion about death camps and extermination! The idea would have been ridiculous to an eleven-year-old at that point.Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
It is a testament to how interesting (and likeable!) this character is, that people want to argue with him and "save" him. But I think the folks "arguing" with Dieter are missing the point.
The average German, prior to World War II, thought pretty much the way Dieter did. The degree to which they bought into the whole "untermenschen" thing might have varied, but no one was really too worried about what might happen to Jews and other minorities. At worst, they believed wholeheartedly in the "stabbed in the back" theory that blamed everything from Germany's losing WWI to the inflation that devastated their economy on traitorous Jews, and at best, they were indifferent. Nobody was imagining death camps and mass extermination.
Also keep in mind that even as the war began, the Germans didn't think it was going to be a huge, global conflict (let alone one that they'd eventually lose). They expected to walk all over Europe and that Britain would make peace fairly quickly. Initially, Hitler even had hopes that the U.S. would join Germany.
So trying to tell the average German, especially an eleven-year-old boy, that in ten years their country was going to be a burned out wreck and that they would be remembered as one of the most evil regimes in history, would have gotten you laughed at and called mad.
(Not universally -- there were Germans even early on who saw what Hitler was and what he represented, but I doubt even they realized just how bad it was going to get.)
I think Tim has done a good job of showing Dieter's fairly unsophisticated view of the world. I don't even agree with the author's own assessment that Dieter is twisted and sick -- he's just a typical kid who believes what the grown-ups in his life have told him. Very few eleven-year-olds have the intellectual or emotional maturity to question things like that. Early on, I asked him whether he'd be willing to kill, because that's one thing that even a child might think about -- the difference between believing that "those people are bad" and being willing to actually kill someone. But death really isn't something most eleven-year-olds understand. It's an abstraction, it's something that happens in wars, and usually to bad people.
What I'd find more interesting is to see what Dieter is like when he's older.
Bine: Very good assessment of the average German and Tim's work on Dieter. 3 points.