Patterns of Childhood

by Christa Wolf
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What are Christa Wolf's political interests and affiliations in Patterns of Childhood?

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Patterns of Childhood is an autobiographical novel in which Woolf tries to come to terms with her past as a child growing up in Nazi Germany. Woolf, as an adult, was a committed socialist (although also watched and suspected by the East German government for her unorthodoxy). She would not...

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Patterns of Childhood is an autobiographical novel in which Woolf tries to come to terms with her past as a child growing up in Nazi Germany. Woolf, as an adult, was a committed socialist (although also watched and suspected by the East German government for her unorthodoxy). She would not flee East Germany, although many of her relatives did in the days before the Wall was erected, and she opposed the reunification of Germany for fear it would lead to the rise of another Nazi state.

Although horrified by Nazism and the Holocaust in her adult life, as a child she was raised as a Nazi, and, not fully understanding what she was doing, she fully embraced Nazism, even becoming a leader in the League of German Girls, the widespread association of Aryan young woman being groomed as Nazi loyalists.

In Patterns of Childhood, Woolf describes a girl named Nellie Jordan growing up in a town called L near the east German border, her family's increase in fortune as loyal Nazis, her own participation in the League of German Girls, and finally the end of it all with the invasion of the Russian army. Nellie is trying to come to grips with the huge disconnect between her childhood beliefs, which she later utterly repudiated, her innocent complicity in the Nazi regime, and her adult perspectives on events she could not at the time fully process. She condemns relatives who would not take responsibility for what happened and acted like victims. She questions: why do people always blame us? With good reason, Woolf responds.

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