The German Mujahid – Boualem Sansal

Norwegian title: Min fars hemmelighet

Hello friends!

Again, I’ve read a book about my favorite subject, WW2. I’m not quite sure what I thought about this one in terms of history but as a personal perspective on the aftermath of the war, although it is a work of historical fiction, I believe it to be very interesting! The synopsis is borrowed from Goodreads:

The two brothers Schiller, Rachel and Malrich, couldn’t be more dissimilar. They were born in a small village in Algeria to a German father and an Algerian mother, and raised by an elderly uncle in one of the toughest ghettos in France. But there the similarities end. Rachel is a model immigrant – hard working, upstanding, law-abiding. Malrich has drifted. Increasingly alienated and angry, his future seems certain: incarceration at best. Then Islamic fundamentalists murder the young men’s parents in Algeria and the event transforms the destinies of both brothers in unexpected ways. Rachel discovers the shocking truth about his family and buckles under the weight of the sins of his father, a former SS officer. Now Malrich, the outcast, will have to face that same awful truth alone.

The German Mujahid is a different WW2 book. Instead of focusing on the core events of Holocaust it focuses on the ones who were left behind, and especially the children of the perpetraitors of Nazi Germany. This creates for some interesting ethical dilemmas which were quite interesting to read about and they are very well portrayed in this book. We get to follow Rachel who discovers his father’s secret and this shakes his beliefs of the world tremendously. From two different perspectives we get to follow Rachel and Malrich on their separate journeys which as so closely related.

What I found especially fascinating is how they react so differently to the same story. Rachel, who has always been the good brother with a great education and prospects in life, seem to react as if his whole world is crumbling. In many senses I felt that he was a bit naive about the whole thing and how the world around him functions. Considering his engineering education he seems to be a rather ascending man with many great qualities. At the same time I feel that we can’t truly blame Rachel for loosing his perspective of the world when the secrets he discovers are so tremendous in size as these secrets are. Secrets like that does something to a person, I’m sure, when they are discovered in the way that Rachel does. Let’s just make it very clear, I’m not judging Rachel based on his reaction. I just find it very fascinating that two brothers can react so differently in similar situations.

Malrich om the other hand, who are quite naive except for the ways of the streets, reacts completely different than his brother. Destined by many to be a low-life suburban boy who lives on the edge of the law you’d think that he would not care or understand much of what Rachel discovers about their father. This made me wonder if Malrich had the upper hand of the two brothers since he did not have a higher education and thus had been more ignorant of the world around him. This could have been discussed back and fourth forever, I’m sure of it, because Malrich isn’t stupid. He just has a different way of looking at the world than his brother. I’m not saying that people without education, or who lives on the edge of the law, are stupid. We know that education isn’t for everybody and that is completely ok but it still creates for an interesting discussion when such differences arise within the same case. Of course there is a lot of genetics, exposure, and general behavior related to this so the questions and the wonders I present here might be completely different than someone else’s. The mental journey of the brothers are, however, very fascinating!

The German Mujahid is a different book about WW2. We follow Rachel and Malrich on a heavy psychological journey when they learn their father’s secret, and this journey was very interesting for me to follow. This book raise difficult questions and topics that might stir something in many, and the shame portrayed in this book is done in a thorough and solid way. An interesting read for people who are interested in history and its imprints in other peoples lives.

Published: 2013

Genre: Historical fiction

Theme: World War 2, Holocaust, family, shame

– The Book Reader

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