P. F. Kluge writes about the last German generation that could go out and face the world without shame, the ones born before the two great wars. Hans Greifinger comes across the Atlantic and lands in Jersey, embodying a dream as old as mankind itself: a dream of a better future. Hans knows what has to be done and does it, namely work. He works hard and long, but he has a brother who doesn’t believe in the same ethic. It is a volatile time to be a German in America, and the heavyweight champion of the world Max Schmeling is often seen in ring bouts defending his title. The media portrays him as a Nazi and the fights against Joe Louis are some of the most exciting of the times. Hans’ brother is part of Schmeling’s entourage and loves the lifestyle, deploring the plodding and methodical regimen that is touted as typically Teutonic.
Hans also has a son, a son who writes a syndicated national column, but one who’s committed the unthinkable sin of Anglicizing his name to Griffin. The son finds nothing romantic or worth holding on to in his Germany ancestry, leaving all romanticizations of their German past to his father, the aging Greifinger. The book is well-written and though politically incorrect in some passages, is true to its rendition of what a German immigrant might have thought and done in the 20s and 30s in America. Kluge writes very well, capturing the longing of an immigrant for his native land in the decline of his days, a longing tempered by love for his adopted land that gave him so much his native land never did. The father and soon brook a reconciliation of sorts and then head down to Florida, where Hans’ brother has been found, years after being suspected of being a war criminal or worse.
All in all, a good book, moving, multi-generational and pithy. Pick this one up for a good tale of die Landsmänner im Amerika.