THE LAST CHILDREN OF SCHEVENBORN
Gudrun Pausewang. Translated by Norman M. Watt.
Volume 17 Number 1
There will be no more children in Schevenborn, West Germany. Not ever. Perhaps it is better so, for this is a terrible story of utter catastrophe: the half-life of those who survive a nuclear strike.
The narrator is Roland, a young lad who describes the horrors around him, the disintegration of his family, his community, his world. Some of those he knows and loves disappear in an instant - vapourized. They are the lucky ones. He sees some humans behaving like savage beasts and others with saintly self-forgetfulness. Perhaps calamity merely intensifies what is already present in the human spirit.
Relentlessly, radiation poisoning, starvation, exposure and exhaustion take their toll. Roland's mother, pregnant when the blast occurred, bears a child that is one more awful reminder of the tragedy rather than a promise for the future. In the few years remaining, the children of Schevenborn look upon adults, all adults, as their murderers. "What", they ask, "did you do to prevent all this?" And the only answer, the one most of us would be forced to give, is "Nothing".
Schevenborn is a terrible, frightening, haunting story, all too convincing in its horror, one that might be used with senior students in connection with world issues courses. Comparable to another admonitory tale of the nuclear age, Raymond Briggs' When the Wind Blows (New York: Schocken Books, 1982).
Joan McGraw, Toronto Board of Education, Toronto, ON.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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