The Other Me
A NetGalley Review
Have you ever so hated your family and background that you have created a whole new persona? Right down to name, home, family? And maintained it for 2 whole years without a slip?
Well Klaudia Meyer did in this book.
She became Eliza Benet and didn’t reveal who she really was until circumstances forced her into it. Her best friend didn’t know her. Her lover didn’t know her. And she avoided her family in all that time.
This book had sat in my to read pile for several months and for some reason kept slipping off my list and I grasped the new sweetie instead. Which was a shame as although I initially found the book slow and somewhat difficult to follow why I was moving from one character to another and different timelines, it all became clear later why and who these characters were and what their connection to each other was.
I thought that Ernst’s story was perhaps the most compelling as he described in great detail how life was in Germany during the 1920s and 30s on a farm near a small town, for 2 children who had no parents.
The children were placed as foundlings with a farm family and were treated as unpaid servants with sleeping accommodation over the stable unless it really got too cold, and fed after the rest of the family had eaten very sparingly.
The times were hard and difficult on a farm and it was no surprise that the children were drawn to the Hitler youth programmes as a way of establishing an identity. The story makes it quite clear how this movement began to take hold and the how the country began to follow Hitler.
I was interested in the description of the races that they were taught in the school (by nuns no less, who clearly were enthusiastic supporters of all that the Regime wanted). The Eugenics researchers were, at the time, very influential with the Nazis and Hitler as well as Mussolini and felt that the rule of the world was the birthright of those with the best physical and mental stature – the Nordic (sometime referred to as the Aryan) race.
The races were listed as -in order of best to worst – and I really hadn’t heard of most of them so, of course, looked them up.
Wikipedia explains that:
Nazi policy stressed the superiority of the Nordic race, a sub-race of the white European population defined by the measurement of the size and proportions of the human body and each race was given a different amount of food, rights, housing and so on. each race was strictly separated from each other – ghettoed in effect. This was part of some early anthropological and eugenics research that claimed by measuring certain physical characteristics people could be defined. They could then be determined as to what they could undertake in the way of jobs etc. Nordic characteristics being prized for breeding purposes of course in order to improve the general population.
The Nordic, or superior race, was a person with light-coloured hair, light-coloured eyes, fair skin, long and narrow skulls and tall stature. They were supposed to be universally truthful, equitable, competitive, naïve, reserved and individualistic.
Dinaric was a mixed type consisting of Nordic race and Armenoid race who have a slightly darker pigmentation.
Falic or Phalic race as described by Hans Friedrich Karl Günther as being inferior to Nordic and Dinaric and consisting of a defined height and stature,being robust and heavily built, with a rosy skin, blond hair, light eyes (blue, grey or green), big mouth and thin lips.
Ostic race is often refierred as the Alpine race and is defined as:
A typical Alpine skull is therefore regarded as broad-headed. As well as being broad in the crania, this thickness appears generally elsewhere, as Hans Günther describes:
…the Alpine race is thick-set and broad. The average height of the Alpine man is about 1.63 metres. This small height is brought about by the relatively short, squat legs. This broadness and shortness is repeated in all the details: in the broadness of the hand and its short fingers, in the short, broad feet, in the thick, short calves.
Ost-Baltic has a medium to low stature, fair skin, strong build, brachycephallic (broad) skull, light hair and eyes.
Slavs were unternmenshcen or sub-human and thus ripe for slavery and exploitation. They were of a racially mixed “Asiatic” type. Barbarians and read for ethnic cleansing.
Not mentioned in the book was the Mediterranean race with low stature, brown skin, physical constitution varying from gracile to slender, straight nose, regular features, dolicocephallic, dark hair and eyes. Doliocephalic means that the head is longer than would be expected, relative to its width as with the skulls of Neanderthals.
There are various other racial ‘types’that the Eugenicists also described and the late 19th century the science was much admired in many parts of the world.
So, what do I finally think of this book? I was conflicted. Was it a 4 star or was it a 5 star? So 4.5 is the compromise.