Tim, you leave me in awe. Your story is fluent, well-written, and interesting into the smallest detail. It’s obvious that you spent a lot of time researching and including all the facts you found out about that time. The details enrich your story and make it very enjoyable to read.
A lot of charm is brought into the story by using German words here and there. Nothing feels out of place and is included perfectly – it gives the impression that your knowledge of the German language is more than just basics, really. Though, some small mistakes I noticed. In chapter two, “dummkoff” should be “Dummkopf”. In chapter three, you wrote “Deutsches Jungvolk boys” which is doubling. The Deutsches Jungvolk consisted of boys only, that’s why adding “boys” after “Deutsches Jungvolk” is not necessary. The same applies to “Jungmädel girls”. The German word “Mädel” is an old version of “Mädchen” which translates as “girl”. So, no need for the “girls” after “Jungmädel”.
What I really liked about chapters two and three is the way you showed the Germans as a group. First, it’s the townspeople directing their anger at the Jews, and in chapter three, it’s the Deutsches Jungvolk doing early morning exercise and then having a snowball fight with the girls. “Teamwork”, that’s how it has been back then, and you showed it clearly and well-incorporated into the story. Once again, I have the feeling of sitting in my history lessons and either watching films or reading texts about the life of the youth in Hitler’s era. I even find myself wishing that this story would have been part of my education.
The way you developed Dieter is amazing. He’s the average ten-year-old German boy, with flaws like not being able to draw or stumbling over answering a question in school. He does schoolwork just fine but loves physical exercises more than anything else. He fully believes what the older boys and adults have taught him about Aryans being the better race and Jews, Gypsies and other human races being inferior to the German supremacy. He’s fitting into what I know the youths having been like back then; he’s portrayed really realistically. I especially liked that he’s shocked beyond words when he meets the old wizard in the Kartoffelstraße, but that he’s well-enough trained to “recognise” the old man’s weirdness. It’s also a nice way of introducing the readers to who Dieter really is – a wizard – without giving away anything vital in that moment. I’m really looking forward to when Dieter receives his letter of being admitted to Durmstrang.
The snowball fight was entertaining to read, and at the same time an education for both me and the characters. They fight like in a real war, the girls being one army, the boys the other. Some of the boys were armed with their spades, using them to launch large clumps of snow long distances (if inaccurately) while simultaneously digging field fortifications. I loved the reference to the field fortifications. It feels like they were on the battlefield in Russia or France instead of in the camp near their town. Again, you’ve woven the “simple” everyday life together with what the future for them all will entail – the battlefield. It makes the story so much more glorious.
Now, I’m definitely not a believer in Nazism, but let me just say that when I heard the speech for “Do you want the war” (or whatever exact phrasing they used), I kind of got excited as well. Hitler and his men were great speakers, and they could excite large crowds of people. You showed this “ability” when the Party official cried “Heil” and the townspeople answered with “Sieg”. And the way you used the repetition – just like what Hitler and his men did – build up so much emotions and feelings, it’s impossible not wanting to follow. You have a great talent there, and I hope you’ll include that more often in future chapters. It makes your story stand out.
Tim, the way you portrayed the era and the life of a usual boy is beyond amazing, and the story promises to become really great. Keep up the work; it would be a shame to not see this story finished. And as my final words: I marvel at your ability to write a fantastic story about a delicate topic, moving it into the realm of fanfiction, yet keeping it historically as accurate as possible.
Ah, Guten Tag, Bine!
Sorry it’s taken me a while to respond to your reviews, but it’s been a busy week. But anyway, I’d just like to say THANK YOU for such a supportive, in-depth review. Also, thank you for the German advice/corrections – highly useful since I don’t speak the language, apart from a few propaganda phrases I’ve picked up while studying the subject!
Again, I am immensely pleased that you find my depiction of life during the Third Reich as being realistic and believable – my research has been put to good use! Also, I am particularly glad that you like young Dieter Heydrich. Though what the Nazis did was undeniably despicable and vile, they were real people, just like you and me. A lot of people forget is that the Nazis weren’t just the SS men in black trench coats – they were also ordinary clerks, bakers, parents, and yes, little children like Dieter too. To get philosophical, one of my motivations for writing this story was to show what life was like under Hitler and hopefully shed some light on why so many people offered their enthusiastic support or at the least their silent consent.
Speaking of shovels and digging field fortifications, that reminds me of a scene from Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, when Hitler reviews the Reichsarbeitsdienst. I was surprised by militarization of something as mundane as construction work – they wielded their tools like they would rifles, and they even chorused (I’m just summarising here), “We don’t fight or stand under fire, but we are soldiers! Our labour is our weapon!” But I digress… as you noticed, I wrote Chapter Three as a sign of things to come.
Anyway, don’t worry about me giving up on this story – Chapter Five has just been updated, and Chapter Six is in the queue! Currently I’ve been having the worst case of writer’s block for the next chapter, but I think I’ve found a way around it and can resume progress as normal.
Once again, thanks for the fantastic review!
Tim the Enchanter