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The Berliners

The Berliners is a collection of stories revolving around three very different pairs of lovers who find each other at the wrong place and the wrong time. The place: Berlin, Germany. The time: three decades in the twentieth century, each with its own unique social and political implications. The tragedy of true love both found and forbidden cycles in each story. The question remaining to be answered during the course of each plot is whether or not our heroes will be able to overcome the obstacles of war, political division, and racism and finally arrive at both accepting themselves and being accepted by society in their unique time and place.The story of Heinrich and Paul follows their relationship from adolescence during compulsory attendance at a Hitler Youth program and on through their years of self-loathing as members of the Nazi Party and armed forces. The antiheroes of this story struggle to accept themselves and their sexuality while also battling the guilt and hypocrisy of their crimes and inhumanity under the Third Reich.During the 1970s, we witness the serendipitous affair between West Berliner Thomas Gaettens and East Berliner Marita Luettig. Their brief relationship spans the limits of the Berlin Wall and family obligation over personal indulgence. Our protagonists are faced with the difficult prospect of overcoming the barrier that stands between their two worlds. Their dangerous relationship is quickly enveloped in suspicion, fear, and hopelessness under the pressure of the authoritarian government and its powerful police force, the Stasi.Finally, the contemporary tale of Hilal and Peter recounts the turbulent love story of a young German student and Turkish girl from school. This story is based on true events that took place in Berlin in 2006. The conflicts that exist even today between the former guest-worker Turkish population of Germany and the native Germans is reflected in the couple's confrontation against the conservative, religious views of Hilal's father.In the final chapters of the novel, our three stories begin to intertwine in modern times. Berlin herself is perhaps the main character of the entire book, bearing witness to this recurring motif of lovers unable to find peace with each other in the capital. The reader is left to question why the universality of this theme seems to exist and reemerge throughout human history, particularly in the history of Berlin and Germany.

--C. L. Parks



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