At first I have to say that I had to read this book in its English version. As you may know, and Mr. Tenenbom will tell you in the foreword, the German version has been "censored" by German authority. Okay, at least the German publisher unfortunately refused to print it (I don't know their reasons, but I don't share their opinions on Mr. Tenenbom and his book), but it sounds better this way and fulfills the expectations of most foreign readers. And so everyone is invited to call these people "Nazis". It makes things so easy this way: As a German reader I had to read the English version, because my government/authority/people won't allow me to find out the truth about myself.
I have to admit that I have thought for a long time about this book and how to deal with it. I was educated in German schools (yes, you're now welcome to think about "Napola" or whatever you like, as you are so well-informed about Germany), so we read books written by Brecht, Dürrenmatt, Max Frisch and other (also non-German-writing) authors. After reading a book, we had to interpret these books by ourselves, to think about what could have been the author's intention. That's the stupid way childish Germans (as Mr. Tenenbom calls us in his own "satiric way") do it, and so I got used to it. A real hard effort for our small and evil brains.
So I asked myself after reading this book: What does Mr. Tenenbom want to tell me? Especially as a German, who is absolutely aware of the fact that my people, my ancestors, have killed (or at least are responsible to have killed) more than six million people (no, I fear of having to disappoint you: I'm not glad or proud of these evil and unparalleled deeds), most of them of Jewish religion? I think that there's really a message for German readers: Stop being so focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Try to understand both positions, stop favoring the Palestinian point of view, because your press tends to report more about the situation of Palestinians. Think by yourselves. And get rid of the fools that still keep up their - maybe subtile - prejudices about Jewish people. Yes Mr. Tenenbom, got it, I have to agree with you. Your book was shocking, sometimes entertaining and worth reading. Your message itself was clear. I hope that as being only a German I'm not too stupid and childish and eventually interpreted in a wrong way. Well, actually I have to live with this handicap. But after all it's only told in a satiric way, so I don't have to take the way it's been told seriously, but rather with humour. I tried it.
But after that conclusion, which is okay, well-meant and absolutely right, I had to think about if there's also a message from Mr. Tenenbom to foreign readers. I'm not so sure if Mr. Tenenbom really intended it, but yes: There it is. I think most of you were afraid that they lost their German bogeyman that everybody worldwide loves to hate. Just because it's so easy: Everybody is allowed to blame Germans, call them "Nazis", you will find a reason for it everytime. Because it's so easy. And it must feel so good. A German just does not have any right to argue for himself, he or she won't be allowed to discuss the accusations that a whole people has to bear. And that's the reason why you'll get the feeling to know everything about German culture and the evil way German people think after reading this book. Mr. Tenenbom will tell you by concatenating a series of interviews with many persons (most of them very weird, still wondering where he found them, must be all over this place) who give stupid answers to clever questions (some people give clever answers to stupid questions, but then they are not Germans any longer by Mr. Tenenbom's definition, e.g. former chancellor Helmut Schmidt), call the whole thing a satire novel and then you're done. The final conclusion is drawn by the author. Yes, here you are, you expected it anyway: All Germans are "Nazis". They have ever been, will ever be. No suprise. If someone is proud of the country, then he is a "Nazi". Or stupid. Or both of it. If someone is not proud to be German, then he is a disturbed person, suffering the "German disease" of having an unnormal relationship to the own country. One example: Pupils aren't prepared to defend Germany against France? Oh my god, they must be ill or something, don't fighting the arch-enemy. In my opinion a very stupid question, as most people in Germany love France and admire French culture (so do I). But let Mr. Tenenbom draw all conclusions for foreign readers, it makes things so easy.
At last, I have no right to critize Mr. Tenenbom. He told me that as being a German I'm a stupid and childish racist, a "Nazi", it must have to do something with my genes. So I'm lost. And if it's all only a clever made satire, then I won't be able to understand it anyway, because as a German I have no humour (which has also something to do with genetics). Now I'm totally lost. I ever disliked and damned Nazi-Germany, the "Third Reich" and the evil deeds of my ancestors, but Mr. Tenenbom tells me that I have already became part of it, that I'm a stupid "Nazi". But after all it's only satire, so as a German I'm not able to understand it. Complicated situation. And eventually I'm only a disturbed person. Arguing against Mr. Tenenbom and his book makes myself a ansi-Semite. So there's no way out. Good Germans are expected to like this book, and so to confirm all its theses and statements for non-German readers who ever expected Germans to be evil. It's just a doom loop for me as a German.
But then there's hope eventually, because Mr. Tenenbom also tells me that he loves my country (and the German railway, as much as I do :-) ), he loves the Germans, as much as he hates us for being on earth (some of you might think about the Morgenthau plan: If realized, we won't have to discuss about this book today. Must feel so great being a farmer without any education!). It's so easy to hate us without knowing us, you just have to read this book, because you get the feeling to know us. You'll love it. And hate Germans and Germany. As much as I love my country, my children, my family. Yes, I do. Incredible, all of them are German or Germans! All suffering this genetic defect Mr. Tenenbom told me about. Maybe it's just satire? I don't know it. I'm not able to. Sorry.
I understand that Mr. Tenenbom wrote this book in anger. I understand that he was very confused about what he found in Germany, making his very special experiences with very special individuals here, always rather treated as "a Jew" than as the Mr. Tenenbom he is. But the final conclusion is too hard in my point of view, condemning a whole people to be evil. I'm sorry of having to say that, and I think many Germans will share my point of view: Even if not intended by the author, a lot of German people will feel insulted by this book. Even if there's a true message in it, it's although insulting. Mr. Tenenbom, after I tried to understand and shared your feelings while travelling in Germany (we call it "Fremdschämen" in our dark country), please also try to understand my feelings as a German after reading the book. I do not share the opinions of most of the really weird interview partners, I'm not obsessed by "Jews" or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - even if you try to prove me wrong. And I don't think of me as being anti-Semitic (nor other's do). And I can only hope that I'm not anti-Semitic by your judgement. I'm pretty aware of German history and the German deeds in history, but after all I have a relaxed relationship to my own nation. We might have our faults. But I still love to live here (unbelievable). You want to give us a message, and yes: I think I've got it. But, Mr. Tenenbom, please allow me to feel insulted by your book. Even if it's satire. Just let's agree: You have your personal kind of humour, I've got mine (especially as being German, a the foreign reader might add ... yes, it's so easy for you :-) ). Got the point?
Read this book, form yourself an opinion about it. It's worth the effort. As long as you don't expect to understand German culture by only reading it. Think by yourself. I'm sure Mr. Tenenbom would also want you to do it this way. I share most of his opinions, but not all of his conclusions.
P.S.: No, I did not write this comment in anger. I thought some days about it before I wrote it. But I disliked the fact that some foreign readers got the feeling they understood German culture by reading this book. Just believe me: This is no longer the country it was during 1933 to 1945. Like us or hate us and the individuals living here, but think by yourself. And don't stop thinking! I don't expect you to share my opinion on this book. And, just in case: Although I was born in 1975, just feel free to call me and my relatives, my neighbours, just all Germans "Nazis". Or what you like. Germans got used to it. That does not mean that we like it. Basta.