The Aftermath
Rhidian Brook

by

Sharon Fleming

Chapter 1
Summary

The Aftermath commences with a German youth, Ozi, and his gang friends trying to destroy the ‘beast’, a symbol representing the past Nazi regime. The author indicates that Ozi’s clothes were a hybrid fashion of rags from the defeated troopers and long-gone stationmaster (Brook 10). The ferals, Ozi’s gang, with their dirty faces and their eyes wide with terror, follow Ozi through the destroyed city. After waking for a while around the moraines of brick-rock, the group comes to a clearing, and Ozi raises his hand to halt the others.

In another scene, Brook brings in Captain Wilkins informing his senior, Colonel Lewis, that a comfortable surrounding has been located towards the old fishing suburb of Blankenese. According to Captain Wilkins, the place is a “bloody great palace by the river” (Brook 11). However, the effects of war, as Colonel Lewis indicates, have compelled him to narrow to a simple checklist of basic and immediate needs. According to Colonel Lewis, basic and immediate needs include warmth, the ability to eat 2,500 calories, and tobacco. Although a comfortable place is available, Colonel Lewis is uncomfortable with displacing Herr Lubert, the house owner, regardless of his nationality. Lubert is an architect who lost his wife, leaving behind a 15-year-old teenager. Additionally, after the war, a German had to be cleared and categorized based on color; white, black, or shades of grey. Thus, before making the decision to share a house with Lubert, Lewis had him investigated whether he had any connection with the Nazi regime.

On his way to review and acquire the house, Lewis and his driver Schroeder pass through the ruined cities. Colonel Lewis comes across people scratching a living from nothing. The view of the smashed city, fallen buildings, and a church with only wind for congregation and sky for stained glass is a clear indication of the effects of war. Children and women stood around piles of rubble looking for remnants of their destroyed past. Accordingly, black crosses “marked the places where bodies lay waiting to be buried” and everywhere, pipe-chimneys of the burning city were gushing black smoke into the sky (Brook 16).

The author takes the readers into another scene revealing Lubert instructing his remaining staff, the house help, Heike, the gardener, Richard, and his house cook, Greta to obey and respect their new master (Brook 18). Although Lubert seems to have settled and accepted that the British were in command, his daughter Frieda is unhappy and unwilling to let a stranger, particularly an English man, occupy their home. Unable to persuade his daughter to come down and greet their new master, Lubert walks away ready to welcome and attend to Lewis. Upon Lewis’s arrival, Lubert provides a brief introduction and a tour to the various rooms, their history, and their functions (Brook 23). The chapter ends with not only Lewis waiting for his wife but also proposing a different arrangement to Lubert.

Analysis

In this chapter, the author seems to provide the readers with a description of the effects of war. Apparently, the war left the city of Hamburg and its citizens in dire poverty and devastation. Men, women, and children were struggling to start their lives from scratch. There were no basic or immediate necessities such as clothes and food. In this chapter, the author describes the horrors of war such as unburied dead bodies lying everywhere, ruined and burning cities as well as dirty and hungry children running up and down searching for something to eat. The British were in charge of rebuilding the city and the process of de-Nazification, and this compelled Germans to leave their homes to English Colonels such as Lewis. With the British occupying the city of Hamburg, Germans lacked the rights to complain and were required to be submissive to their new British masters.

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