History | Literature | Felix Hartlaub Pushkin Press

Translated from German, this slim volume comprises background descriptions and sketches that would likely have formed the basis for a novel set in occupied France, particularly Paris. The author was posted to Paris between December 1940 and August 1941, as an historian with the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His observations of wartime life are acute. Parisians waiting outside a butcher’s shop: ‘Their faces emptied, leached with waiting’. A German mess sergeant: ‘his belt buckled in the final hole.’ Unfortunately, the planned novel was never to eventuate, as Hartlaub went missing during the decisive Battle of Berlin in 1945. (Reviewed by David Youngmeyer)