Reunion by Fred Uhlman
Hans is clever, a dreamer, intent on travel and convinced he will become “a great poet”. For the moment, though, life as a Stuttgart schoolboy is dull. His classmates aren’t particularly sensitive and Hans is a bit of snob. His father, the local doctor, served the Fatherland in the Great War, winning an Iron Cross. The boy’s mother is kindly and scatty, giving money both to the Jews for the assistance of Jews in Poland, “and to the Christians for the conversion of Jews to Christianity.” She is not fussed about being Jewish; “like my father, she didn’t seem to need any religion.” It all changes for Hans when Konradin, a polished aristocrat complete with 900 years of family history, arrives at the school. Hans is captivated. They become friends. Yet under Hitler Germany is transforming and Hans is ostracised. Written in English by artist Fred Uhlman (1901-1985) who fled his homeland in 1933, Reunion is as perfect as it is powerful. Though it was ignored on publication in 1971, Arthur Koestler’s preface to a subsequent edition in 1977 alerted readers to its eloquent beauty and pathos.