Kurt’s parents, etc.
- Oskar’s dad
- He is also called up at the same time as Walter. They both serve in the same unit on the Western front.
- Survives the battle of Verdun (1916) but suffers from shell-shock. Is medically discharged from the army in 1917.
- Called a “trembler” because of his experiences in ww1
- Works odd jobs for money. Some people are very sympathetic toward him while others in the neighborhood consider him a coward.
- His condition was the source of bullying that Oskar endured when he was younger, and the source of his rage when it comes to street fights and “dealing” with bullies.
- Is disappointed with his son when becomes a member of the SA
- Identifies with Kurt – bright, shy, sensible. A man of quiet duty and dignity who is looked down upon by all the neighbors. Only after Oskar becomes a member of the SA do people in the neighborhood treat him better openly, some out of respect, others out of fear.
- He keeps an eye out for Kurt, feels badly about how Kurt is treated at home and by his own mom.
- Kurt’s dad
- He gets called up for the war in 1915 as a replacement
- Dies in the battle of Verdun, 1916
- Kurt’s mom
- Comes across as quiet and distant.
- Came from an upper middle class background.
- Is resentful toward Kurt because he looks so much like her late husband. Keeps her distance from him, and is OVERLY critical of everything he does (and doesn’t do).
- She seems emotionally distant to her two children. The fact is, she never got over the grief of losing her husband (Walter) during the great war (ww1)
- She becomes an early supporter of Hitler in the mid 20s, especially after the Beer Hall Putsch (which happened in Nov 8/9 1923, 24 day trial at the end of Nov into Dec) in trials hit the papers. Encourages Kurt constantly to “do his part” for a greater Germany
- She works as a washer woman doing laundry and mending clothes for the wealthier woman in the neighborhood. After the financial crash of 1929 many of her former customers find it hard to continue paying her, making things financially tough at home.
- One of her favorite lines – “keep your nose to the grindstone”
- She is very proud that Oskar was rising in the ranks of the SA, and was disappointed that her son didn’t make the Olympic track team (for 1936 Olympics) and that her son was too busy with his nose in books then joining the Nazi party. She often compares him to Kurt, telling Kurt to be more like Oskar. She openly mentions how Oskar is more like the son she wished she had, rather than one she does.
- In fact, it was through her insistence that Kurt finally leaves school to join the army. For Gertrude she wants her son to “avenge” his father’s death, but she merely says that he must do his duty for his country.