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November 22, 2008

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Heribert Breidenbach

WEEDS LIKE US by Gunter Nitsch is a heart breaking documentary of the author's family's endless and dramatic escape from East Prussia to Cologne in West Germany as many families fled from the Russian occupation toward the end of WWII. This historic novel has gripped me like no other of its kind as I was 10 years old at the time, living outside of Cologne, when that city was in flames.
Gunter Nitsch is a master of characterization who makes individuals come alive to the point
of being able to visualize their physical features.
He does that through direct discourse and vivid descriptions of how they act. One can visualize his mother, an amazingly courageous woman, and his grandfather, a man of many practical skills, who always puts the welfare of others before his own.
Statements and actions of some of the last fanatic Nazis show what propaganda had accomplished in the minds of military personnel in leading positions.
This suspense-laden story that makes you want to go on reading after each chapter, reads also like a study in child and adolescent psychology which shows the step by step development of the author's mind from the age of 7 through 13.
Some of the unparalleled dramatic but true events and the direct discourse in clearly formulated and declarative sentences would make this documentary well suited for a movie. "Hollywood, please read it!"
The cute photo on the front cover, showing the author as a happy kindergartener, dresed in his father's military boots and cap, can only awake gratitude in the reader that the Hitler regime did not survive.

Heribert Breidenbach, Ph.D.
Prof.emeritus of German Literature

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