Lathen, 08.10.2020 – A special German lesson was enjoyed by the students of grades 9 and 10 of the Erna-de-Vries School Lathen on the last Thursday before the autumn vacations. The author of books for young people, Dirk Reinhardt, was our guest. He read from his novels "Train Kids" and "Edelweiss Pirates".
The youth book "Trainkids," which is based on Reinhardt's own research, focuses on the adventurous escape of five young people from Latin America who try to reach the USA via Mexico.
With rapt attention, the students followed the author, who first told them about his 2013 research trip to Mexico and Guatemala before reading characteristic passages from his book. The young people listen very intently as the author lets the 13- to 17-year-old stowaways jump onto a moving freight train for the first time on their perilous journey.
Reinhardt began by explaining why the boys and one girl are taking on the dangerous journey: a vicious circle of poverty, violence and hopelessness in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras is driving many children and young people to leave their home countries. It's estimated that up to 100,000 minors are on the road at any given time, making their way nearly 3,000 kilometers through Mexico, through jungle, high mountains and desert, all the way to the heavily guarded U.S. Border.
In a subsequent conversation with the students, they first wanted to know from the author what it is like to work as a writer. They were particularly impressed by the research work done on the ground in Mexico. The reading gave the students an insight into the lives of "illegal" young people. Strengthened the anticipation of reading the book.
To the final pupils of the 10. Reinhardt presented his novel "Edelweiss Pirates" to his classmates. The author became known with his novel "Edelweiss Pirates" about oppositional youth groups in the so-called Third Reich.
The author's reading began with a presentation on the subject of the "real" Edelweiss Pirates, in order to show the students the real connection to the novel, because the novel is based on true events.
Edelweisspiraten – that was the name given to groups of young people who distanced themselves from National Socialism and were therefore persecuted by Hitler's regime.
A 16-year-old boy named Daniel is the main character of the novel "Edelweisspiraten" (Edelweiss Pirates). A friend of his grandfather, who had just died, leaves him diaries in which he has documented his experiences during the Nazi era: his aversion to Nazi ideology, his departure from the Hitler Youth (HJ) and finally his membership of the Edelweiss Pirates with a life in hiding.
As far as the initial situation in the novel. How many Edelweiss Pirates there really were is hardly documented. In Cologne alone, however, the files of the Secret State Police (Gestapo) contained more than 3,000 names that the rulers assigned to this group. The Gestapo searched for the youths, interrogated and tortured them – and also executed them without judgment, sometimes on the street and executed in a particularly torturous manner.
In a subsequent Q&A session, the author also answered questions from the students of the 10. Classes her questions. The core topic of this round was how he came to write. Reinhardt stated that he had made his passion his profession. The students were very impressed by the reading and are already looking forward to the 2nd reading. School semester in which they will read the book "Edelweisspiraten" in class. After the reading, the students thanked Mr. Reinhardt with a gift. This included the book of our namesake Erna de Vries.