Characters

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 431

The characters in Crabwalk include the Pokriefke family and the people they interact with. Grass also writes about the history of different people associated with Nazi Germany who appear as characters in the novel.

Paul Pokriefke is a middle-aged reporter who resisted his mother's efforts to make him write about...

(The entire section contains 431 words.)

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The characters in Crabwalk include the Pokriefke family and the people they interact with. Grass also writes about the history of different people associated with Nazi Germany who appear as characters in the novel.

Paul Pokriefke is a middle-aged reporter who resisted his mother's efforts to make him write about the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. He meets an unnamed man who encourages him to write about it and finds out about modern neo-Nazi preoccupation with the ship as the symbol of Nazi martyrs. During his research, he finds out that his son is a neo-Nazi who debates the same topic online.

Konrad Pokriefke is Paul's son who grew up with his mother. He and Paul have an icy, unfamiliar relationship. He uses his website to discuss the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, which he sees as completely unjustified. Another user, who goes by David, says that it was justified, however. They argue about this despite their mutual interests. Ultimately, Konrad kills David when he spits on the Gustloff memorial. Konrad turns himself into the police and says he shot David because he, Konrad, is German. He is sentenced as a minor to time in a correctional facility where he moves past his neo-Nazi ideals.

Tulla Pokriefke is Paul's mother and a survivor of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. She spent her entire life trying to convince Paul to write about it—to the point where it pushed him to leave home and they have a strained relationship. She also sparked an interest in the ship in Konrad, her grandson.

Wolfgang Stremplin is a boy who goes online under the pseudonym David Frankfurter. He's friends with Konrad even though they disagree about whether the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff was justified by Nazi actions against Soviet citizens. When he travels to Schwerin to discuss their beliefs, he spits on the Gustloff memorial. Konrad kills him in response. It is revealed that he wasn't even Jewish—he just tried to use his understanding and relation to Jewish people to deal with what the people in Nazi Germany did to the Jewish people.

Wilhelm Gustloff is the founder of the NSDAP/AO in Switzerland, which was a Nazi organization for German citizens outside of Germany. He was murdered by a student who was against his political beliefs.

David Frankfurter is a Jewish student who assassinated Gustloff in 1936. After he killed Gustloff, he turned himself into the police and said that he shot him because he, Frankfurter, was Jewish.

Alexander Marinesko is the commander of the Soviet submarine that sunk the Wilhelm Gustloff.

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