Als die Welt uns gehörte- Storyline and Book Review
Als die Welt uns gehörte means When the world belonged to us. Based on actual events, this book is a tragic story of three children, Max, Leo and Elsa, who are among the many unfortunate ones who get caught up in the second world war.
The story starts in 1936 when the inseparable trio meets at the Prater amusement park in Vienna to celebrate Leo’s ninth birthday. They are accompanied by Leo’s father, a professional photographer. Leo’s father captures the happy moment while riding the giant wheel. In this photo, he captures a time when the kids were carefree and innocent and believed the world belonged to them. This photo becomes a precious memory and a reminder of their wonderful time together in a world without hatred or war. This photo would become their most valuable possession and a symbol of love and hope in the world that would soon change.
The story gets sequentially narrated from the perspective of the three children. It captures the events in their lives and the deep impressions they leave on their tender souls.
At the beginning of the story, the war has not yet started, but the tension is already in the air. There is growing hatred for Jews, homosexuals, gipsies and many others who find themselves on the wrong side- not fitting into the so-called perfect characteristics of the Aryan race. Leo and Elsa are Jews. While their families worry and make plans to keep themselves safe, the kids are oblivious to the events and lead happy carefree lives. But this doesn’t stay for long. Soon, as they start getting treated differently at their school and on the streets and as they notice their parents losing their jobs and getting denied their rights, the children come face to face with the harsh reality.
Soon the war starts, and things go from bad to worse. Elsa’s family decides to move out of Vienna to Czechoslovakia. Soon Leos’s father is taken as a prisoner, and Max’s family moves to Munich in Germany as his father starts working for the Nazis. The separation is painful for the children, but they have no choice but to follow their parents. The life of each of the children takes a separate course, and each is led to a path they did not choose. The circumstances make them grow and mature ahead of time, do things they never believed in, take responsibilities they were not ready for, and live lives they never imagined.
The author perfectly captures the innocence and feelings from a child’s perspective and presents it to the readers in its most realistic and natural form possible, hence offering a compelling book that brings to light the injustices people faced at such dark times. It also highlights how extreme circumstances change people and their thinking.
This heartwrenching book will leave you in tears and many afterthoughts. The book is suitable for adults and children above 13 years. However, it contains some parts that may be disturbing for children; hence I recommend adult supervision.
It is one of the best historical fiction I have read. I recommend reading it to sensitize yourself about the history of the world and visualize it from the perspective of children who once believed that they could do anything and that the world belonged to them.
- Publisher : FISCHER KJB; 1. edition (25 May 2022)
- Language : German
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 3737342563
- ISBN-13 : 978-3737342568
- Reading age : 12 years and up
- Original title : When the World was Ours
- Dimensions : 13 x 3 x 20.3 cm
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