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Hans Peter Richter "Damals war es Friedrich" summary

Anne Heiming

Hans Peter Richter "Damals war es Friedrich" summary     

In the novel „Damals war es Friedrich” which was written by Hans Peter Richter and released in 1974, the difficulties and problems of the Jews in the Nazi era are shown. The boy Friedrich Schneider lives with his parents in a rented house which belongs to Mr. Resch. They are a Jewish family and live very withdrawn. Mr. Schneider works as a civil servant at the post office. In the flat under them lives another family. These parents have a son who is as old as Friedrich. It is a Christian family and the father is like many other people out of work. Thus, they live on low unemployment benefits and a monthly grant of the grandfather. He works for the railroad and wants his son to  apply for a job at the railroad. He forbids his son to play with Friedrich, because he is a Jew.

But the family maintains contact with the Schneiders and the two boys play a lot together. They also come later in the same school class. On the day of enrolment, the two families go together to the fair, even though the family has no money. Later, various anti-Jewish things happen. In front of a Jewish shop a Nazi protests, the sign of a Jewish doctor is smeared and a Jewish building is destroyed. Later, Friedrich must also go to a Jewish school. Mr. Resch tries several times to get the Schneider family out of his house. At the first time he lost the trial. A short time later, the Jewish law is put into practice.

A little later Mr. Schneider loses his job and Mr. Resch manages to destroy the flat of the Schneiders family. The boy’s father now also joins the NSDAP in order to find work again, although he is actually against this. Jews are not allowed to go anywhere. For example, they have specially marked benches and for Jews it is no longer allowed to go to the cinema. Many people have an aversion to the Jews, what Friedrich feels because a lifeguard is disgusted of him as he learns that Friedrich is a Jew. At night, after the flat was devastated, Mrs. Schneider dies. Some time later a rabbi finds shelter at the Schneiders.

One day the police comes into the flat of the Schneiders and arrests the rabbi and Mr. Schneider. Because Friedrich is not there, he can escape. Friedrich hides from now and the two boys can only meet rarely. Then you hear a bomb scare and all people have to go in the air raid shelter. Mr. Resch, the warden, denies Friedrich the inlet, although many people help Friedrich. Friedrich is unprotected during the attack and later he sits pale in a doorway. Mr. Resch occurs after the attack and hurts Friedrich. Then Friedrich rolls bleeding out of the entrance. Mr. Resch is pleased to announce that Friedrich is dead.