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Tony Grist

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If It's The 1930s It Must Be Germany [Apr. 7th, 2007|02:43 pm]
Tony Grist

I'm reading Stevie Smith's Novel on Yellow Paper ( which is brilliant, by the way) and I'm struck by how pally the English and the Germans were in the 1930s, always popping in and out of one another's countries on holiday and business as if the little unpleasantness of 1914-18 had been quite forgotten. Stevie is writing (or publishing) in '36 and is very good on the nazis -

Oh how deeply neurotic the German people is, oh how it goes right through and isn't just the leaders, like they pretend in The Times. Oh they are so strained and stretched and all the time they are wanting something so yearningly, it is something they don't quite know, like a dream or something that is out of focus. Oh they are wanting it all the time and stretching out their hands, oh you feel you must cover you face, it is not decent to look at that.

My own mother was in Germany in the '30s and has the albums to prove it - full of pictures of dreamy Rhineland castles and  men in swastika armbands. What was the attraction? Today's mutually peaceful Germans and Brits are much less interested in one another than their grandparents were.