On February 20, 1939, the United States briefly resembled Nazi Germany. In New York City, more than 20,000 American Nazis celebrated “Americanism” that day at Madison Square Garden. The speaker was Fritz Kunn, President of the German-American Federation. To the beat of the drums, uniformed boys and girls with swastika banners and American flags marched on stage. The American Germans, Irish and Italians in the hall saluted Hitler. When Kun spoke of an America that was to be liberated from Jews and communists, he accused “Hail Hitler.”
One of those in attendance was Joseph Klein, the great uncle of the German writer Ulla Lens (1973). He discovered the letters written by him and his brother Carl and Ulla’s grandfather between 1946 and 1953 about five years ago. That letter contains a lot of information. Lens knew at the time that Joseph had been imprisoned in the United States for spying for the Germans and that he had returned to Germany after his release, but she had to guess who he was and exactly what had happened in the United States. These letters changed it, according to his fifth novel, Three Lives of Joseph Klein.
Like a Hitchcock movie, Lens tells the story of a German immigrant who is alone in the United States, a decent man who became a soldier in a German spy network against his will before World War II. Apart from the brilliantly constructed novel, it also provides a welcome addition to the historical history of the time.
Each chapter rotates the lens back and forth over time. The ‘German’ of 1939 travels from New York to cafes and restaurants with names such as Schwarzenegger Adler and Zugerschoff, where he lives temporarily with the impoverished Joseph Carl and his family in 1949, plotting to plot the plot against the new German Chancellor Adina. .
Depression and loneliness
Germany’s chapters are obviously moving because they depict the sadness and loneliness of war-torn life.
In pre-war New York, Joseph was by no means a German nationalist. Because he has lived there since 1925, he felt like an American for many years. None by Henry David Thoreau Walton, Which is about a man returning to a hut, a guide to his new, independent existence.
Josephs Walton His apartment in Harlem, where he enjoys beautiful women on the street and jazz music playing lenses throughout the story. He works in the printing press of a Nazi sympathizer named his Irish friend Arthur. Leaflets are printed for both black activists and white racists who hate Jews and English.
A story about guilt and innocence is now emerging, which is sometimes reminiscent of Hermans
Joseph and Arthur are radio amateurs. Shortly after they create a radio device together, Joseph comes in contact with the extraordinary German immigrant Schmuderich. This gives him a lucrative side job as a ‘technical employee’ at a German textile company. He has to send the coded data to Germany, which is provided to him by Schmuderich’s staff.
Joseph gradually learns that this data is not about textiles, but about American arms production. Without realizing it, he engages in intelligence, which is punishable by death.
If he wants to stop, he is intimidated and beaten. Afraid of his customers, he constantly signals. A story about guilt and innocence is now emerging, sometimes reminiscent of WF Hermans Dark Room of Tomogils. Joseph reaches a climax when he starts an affair with a young woman named Lauren who is also a radio amateur.
The lens depicts Joseph’s struggle with subtlety and compassion, so with Lauren, he is sometimes reminded of John Pandey’s lonely characters.
Lauren will eventually free him from his German attackers. But when the network rolls over after a while, the reality is much different than Joseph had ever imagined. That surprise frees him from his credibility, after which he finally finds the real Walton.
A version of this article was published on March 26, 2021 in NRC Handelspot
A version of this article was published in nrc.next dated March 26, 2021