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Reunion In 1932 Hans Schwarz son of a Stuttgart doctor and descendant of a long line of rabbis met a life changing friend Twenty five years later Hans described his friendship with Count Konradin von Hohenfelsthe source of my greatest happiness and of my greatest despair Konradin a new student at Karl Alexander Gymnasium in Stuttgart had a self assured bearing and an aristocratic air The Hohenfels were part of our historyonly a foot or two away sat a member of this illustrious familyeverything about him aroused my curiosityHans and Konradin were both uiet by nature and were not friended by the other students Hans wondered how to engage Konradin The opportunity arose when Hans brought some of his coin collection to school While Konradin was welcomed at Hans's house and freuented it several times weekly invites to Konradin's house were only extended when his parents were away A framed photo of Hitler was displayed on a bedroom dresserAs Germany barrelled toward war the friendship of two sixteen year old boys was doomed Konradin's mother felt Jews didn't exist for her people they were lower than the serfs The Schwarz family however had lived in Stuttgart for at least two hundred years Hans's father said I am an assimilantI want to be identified with GermanyIn Reunion by Fred Uhlman Hans remembers his special friendship with Konradin from twenty five years ago The historical fiction novella although a mere one hundred page one sitting read definitely packs a punch The ending left me tearful and breathless This tome is a must read I spent ages hesitating about how to rate this book It’s an amazing novella beautifully written beautifully crafted The story is very simple and straightforward but it reaches the reader amidst a web of complex feelings For a short novel the twists and turns are also very surprising at least for me – but perhaps I have way too much faith in human nature I gave it four stars although really this is a five star novella in all its glory My four stars are only a testament to how much I wanted I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the characters I wanted of Hans and Konradin I wanted of their lives their thoughts their actions I wanted Konradin’s perspective In short this is too short But if you have to read something this year in all years please read this It is a tale of friendship beauty art and all things that matter in life And it's also the story of how fragile these things are how easily destroyableUPDATE 20102019 After all these months I realised that I think about this book constantly So I decided to just give it the five stars it fully deserves 🇬🇧 It takes an hour and a half to read this little pearl Highly recommended At any ageI was enchanted by Uhlman's writing his descriptions of landscapes and feelings I felt sucked into the story and I saw the events in front of my eyes as realPs I think the last sentence is one of the most powerful of meaning in the books I read this year————🇮🇹 Basta un’ora e mezza per leggere uesta piccola perla Consigliatissima A ualsiasi etàSono rimasta incantata dal modo di scrivere di Uhlman dalle sue descrizioni dei paesaggi e dei sentimenti Mi sono sentita risucchiata dalla storia ed ho come visto gli avvenimenti davanti agli occhi realiPs Penso che l’ultima frase sia una delle più potenti di significato nei libri che ho letto uest’anno Reunion is just about the perfect novella In merely 74 pages Fred Uhlman captured the blossoming of an adolescent friendship the end of childhood and the darkness cast by political and social realities of life in Stuggart Germany just before Hitler’s rise to power Looking back thirty years the narrator Hans Schwarz son of a Jewish doctor recalls how at age sixteen he had sought the friendship of Konradin Graf von Hohenfels a distinguished young count from an illustrious and powerful German family Of their first meeting on a grey dark winter’s day in a grammar school Hans says ‘He came into my life in February 1932 and never left it again’ These words take on greater poignancy when considered in light of the devastating changes that are to follow For Hans ‘this boy was to be the source of my greatest happiness and greatest despair’ In his precise and tender prose Ulhman gave utterance to the beauty of friendship as it unfolds for these two boys each lonely in his own way It calls touchingly to mind that phase in adolescence when the need to belong and find acceptance is most pronounced and youths are given to romantic ideals of friendship that demand ‘complete trust loyalty and self sacrifice’ It is wonderful to share the joys of a young friendship But the winds are changing as Hitler’s influence begins to permeate every corner of German life Ulhman deliberately kept the political complexities in the background In the foreground Hans and Konradin’s friendship bears the brunt of Hitler’s disdain and persecution of the Jewish people This novella is than just a Bildungsroman It is a sterling testament of brotherly affection love courage and integrity Nowhere in this novella is this powerfully expressed than in the closing sentence It left me on the verge of tears I sat uietly for a long while and pondered why this story is titled Reunion And then I finally understood Read Reunion Ian McEwan hailed it ‘A masterpiece of elegant economyIt is a brilliant work of art that deserves a far wider readership’ I cannot say it any better Reunion is a little known novel But it is also a universal story of friendship It is a book of great power waiting to be discovered On a grey afternoon in 1932 a Stuttgart classroom is stirred by the arrival of a newcomer Middle class Hans is intrigued by the aristocratic new boy Konradin and before long they become best friends It s a friendship of the greatest kind of shared interests and long conversations of hikes in the German hills and growing up together But the boys live in a changing Germany Powerful delicate and daring Reunion is a story of the fragility and strength of the bonds between friends WITH AN AFTERWORD BY RACHEL SEIFFERT I was awestruck when I finished this book for the first time back when I was fourteen It's a lovely story A strong and compelling novella on the friendship between two sixteen year old boys Jewish Hans Schwartz and Christian Konradin Graf von Hohenfel With the rise of Nazism Hans is uneasy and the butt of jokes by some of the students He does not engage but remains a recluse among his classmates except when Konradin joins their class The two eventually develop an unusual relationship because of their different backgrounds When Konradin is distant Hans interprets it for all the wrong kinds of reasons One of the beautiful aspects here is that they eventual communicate and clear up the misunderstandings It read like an allegory to the bigger picture if only there was communication rather than blame insinuation and hearsay Their bromance develops and as often happens with studious kids at 16 they have interesting discussions on culture backgrounds and some of the bigger uestions But Nazism is now at their doorstep and Hans’ parents insist he leave to America until things uiet down in Germany then he can return The friends say goodbye and Hans has a new life in an unknown country Then one day many years later when he has a family of his own and is a successful lawyer he is invited to attend a memorial for those classmates whose lives were lost back in Germany He is understandably resentful since there were many Nazi sympathizers but Hans discovers something astonishing about Konradin Suffice it to say without giving a spoiler Hans fell victim to his doubts and suspicions regarding his friend only to realize how wrong he wasIt’s a sweet read on a melancholic tale First published in the early 1970s Reunion has recently been reissued and promoted as the next great undiscovered classic after Stoner although it doesn't yet seem to have achieved the same ubiuity This is a very brief book but the story it tells is powerful a microcosm of emotional turmoil and the intensity of youthful attachmentsHe came into my life in February 1932 and never left it again So begins Hans Schwarz's account of his first great love He has existed largely apart from the other boys at school – neither disliked nor particularly popular – until the arrival of Konradin von Hohenfels The friendship that develops is so intense it feels like a romance; of the novels I've read in recent times it reminded me most of André Aciman's Call Me by Your Name in the sheer power of Hans's attachment and the fact that as indicated by that opening line Konradin left such an indelible mark on his life But this is 1930s Germany and Hans is the son of a middle class Jewish doctor while Konradin's wealthy parents are in thrall to Hitler Reunion is so effective and feels so fresh because it is always about Hans and Konradin with history very much in the background – albeit an inescapable encroaching background It makes the political very personal indeed And all roads lead to the bittersweet gut punch of a closing line; the final sentence is as unforgettable as the firstTinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr About the PlotThe background is Stuttgart Germany of 1930s The time of Nazi rise to power The main protagonists in this novella are two sixteen year old boys a Jew and a German Protestant Christian Enough for hints I think you guessed the story right But that does not say everything Read the novel to feel it The last line of this novella is one of the best ones Not that it is extra ordinary in literary sense A simple informative sentence But comes with an effect unimaginable A word of advice If you ever happen to read the novel for the first time by no chance read the last line even by mistakeOutline of the Story told through some uotes from the bookTwo boys Two friends Two thick friends The history changes the destiny The feeling of differences were never felt initially Foremost we were Swabians then Germans and then Jews The rise of Hitler and the cultural changes change everything A new history professor comes t the school to teach about the nobility of the Aryan race The next day onward the class room is different to the Jewish boy He is made to feel that he is an outsider in his own country He was asked to go back to Israel by a bully from his class Everyone supported the bully Even his own friend deserts him The German protagonist cries out to his Jewish friend thus Do you want to blame me for the ways of the world? The Jewish boy found it difficult to understand For his dad a reputed doctor and a retired military man who had fought in WW I had always believed that Hitler was a sickness and that German would soon get rid of him His father had said I know my Germany This is a temporary illness something like measles which will pass as soon as the economic situation improves Do you really believe the compatriots of Goethe and Schiller Kant and Beethovan will fall for this rubbish? How dare you insult the memory of twelve thousand Jews who dies for our country Für unsere Heimat? The boy learnt everything from his dad But then later in his life he was ashamed of being a German In fact the name Germany becomes abominable to him He feels My wounds have not healed and to be reminded of Germany is to have salt rubbed into themA powerful tale told in poetic language On the front of the edition I was reading from 1983 there is the uoted recommendation from Jeffrey Archer ' A wonderful experience no one can miss I wish I had written Reunion ' All I could think of was the uoted exchange of I think Oscar Wilde and Whistler where one says 'I wish I'd said that' and the other one says ' You will Oscar You will ' Not having read any Archer yet I do not know if he has absorbed this story into his own work and claimed it as his own but I don't know if I would particularly blame him if he had This is an incredibly short novella which takes hardly anytime at all to read but it is a very powerful glimpse into the long lasting effects of bigotry and fear Beginning in early 1932 it tells the story of a friendship growing up betwen two german lads of 16 One Konradin from an ancient and respectable scion of nobility though only 15 years or so after the birth ofthe German republic it was probably uite difficult to spit without hitting someone who would claim royal or at least aristocratic pretensions and the other Hans from a prosperous middle class secular jewish family The story is their friendship told in all its innocent unfurling and beauty and then its sudden destruction by the madness unimagined by the jewish father's loyal love of his german homeland by Hitler's ascendancy Bigotry and cruelty which makes you wince but not through descriptions of violence and bloodshed but through the slights and degradations inflicted on a young jewish boy just growing in confidence and trust and then seeing it ripped awayThe beauty of this short book is the sympathy you feel for both boys as you sit not in judgement but in that removed safety of hindsight The young aristocrat is as much a prisoner of expectation and ' duty ' as Hans is of bigotry and injustice and the denoument on the last page of the book is both tragic and wonderfully redemptive

About the Author: Fred Uhlman

Fred Uhlman was a German English writer painter and lawyer of Jewish origin httpenwikipediaorgwikiFredUhlman

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