Almost A Childhood | Granta

  • Published: 07/08/2006
  • ISBN: 9781862078666
  • 130x20mm
  • 300 pages

Almost A Childhood

Hans-Georg Behr

Translated by Anthea Bell

Hans Georg-Behr’s remarkable account of a childhood spent in Nazi Austria is a powerful indictment of the toll that war takes on children, whichever side they find themselves on. To a five-year-old boy, having a high-ranking Nazi for a father means the horror of having his chin pinched by Goering, playing doctors and nurses with Goebbels’ daughters, and on one occasion being taken to a grand reception to meet the Führer himself. It also means trying to come to terms with his bizarre family – his kindly, liberal grandparents whose estate provides wartime refuge for all manner of unlikely visitors; his cold-hearted mother, once a famous opera singer, now reduced to running an inn; and his older brother, who struts around in his Hitler Youth uniform, shooting squirrels and practising runic writing, convinced of imminent Nazi victory. When that victory does not come, all the Nazi flags in the house are hastily cut up to make new Austrian ones and the swastikas are turned into shoe-cleaning rags, but Behr shows that the legacy of war is not so easily discarded.

A sophisticated literary performance, with a war memoir only at its core ... a fascinating book

Literary Review

[An] extraordinary memoir ... [Behr] feels his way through the pitfalls of childhood while the world of his aristocratic Nazi family falls apart


This is a definite page-turner that will appeal to a wide

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The Author

Hans-Georg Behr was born in Vienna in 1937 and died in Hamburg in July 2010. He studied medicine, clinical psychology and linguistics, writing for many publications including Die Zeit and Der Stern.

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