This is the famous debut novel by the East German writer Jurek Becker. The book tells the story of Jakob Heym who feeds invented positive news, allegedly gleaned from his (non-existent) illegal radio, to his fellow prisoners in a Nazi camp, thus giving them hope for a happy ending which never comes. The text is a milestone in the GDR’s engagement with Nazi Germany: for the first time, the focus was on Jewish ‘normal’ people as victims, rather than on class-conscious political opponents to the Hitler regime. The story has been turned into a feature film twice: by Frank Beyer (DEFA 1975) and, more recently, by Peter Kassovitz (Hollywood 1999). The novel exists in an English translation, too.
I have used Beyer’s film in a module on German representations of the Holocaust.

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