Englischsprachige Literatur

Kanon Joseph

The good German

Picador USA, New York 2001


 Kanon is a professional, having worked in the publishing business before he became a full-time writer. He knows his Graham Greene and John le Carre` and he knows how to write a thrilling, moving story about life in Berlin right after the unconditional surrender of Hitler Germany in 1945.

Jake Geismar, an American journalist, has come back to Berlin to report about the Potsdam Conference. But he is also looking for his one-time lover Lena. The first news, he stumbles over, is the corpse of an American soldier washed up at the shores of Jungfernsee. He had been with him on the plane so Jake naturally is interested, the more so because the soldier´s pockets are stuffed with money from the Russian sector.

And that´s only the beginning of a story about crime and politics, that twists and turns and leaves the reader almost breathless. Some members of the American military government want to get hold of German scientists and are prepared to provide them with “Persilscheins” so that they won´t be put on trial as war criminals. The Russians are keen to get them, too. Lena´s husband, one of the scientists who worked with von Braun, is a top priority for both parties, and Geismar, in between, tries to help Lena by helping her husband who, conveniently, turns out not to be the “good German”.

All in all, Kanon doesn´t find any “good” persons, neither on the American, nor on the German side, apart, maybe, from Rosen, a  Jewish doctor.