Blood Brothers is the only known novel by German social worker and journalist Ernst Haffner, of whom nearly all traces were lost during the course of World War II. Told in stark, unsparing detail, Haffner’s story delves into the illicit underworld of Berlin on the eve of Hitler’s rise to power, describing how these blood brothers move from one petty crime to the next, spending their nights in underground bars and makeshift hostels, struggling together to survive the harsh realities of gang life, and finding in one another the legitimacy denied them by society.
|Publisher:||Other Press, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.52(w) x 8.24(h) x 0.56(d)|
About the Author
Ernst Haffner was a journalist and social worker and his only known novel, Blood Brothers, was published to wide acclaim in 1932 before it was banned by the Nazis one year later. In the 1940s, all records of Haffner disappeared. His fate during World War II remains unknown.
Michael Hofmann has translated the work of Franz Kafka, Joseph Roth, Hans Fallada, and many others. In 2012 he was awarded the Thornton Wilder Prize for Translation by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is the author of several books of poems and essays, including Where Have You Been? (2014). He lives in Florida and London.
Read an Excerpt
Jonny needs to dig up his eight fellows from various nooks and crannies to tell them he’s scoped out a cheap billet for the night. Two marks for the whole lot of them. It’s in a warehouse on Brunnenstrasse. For two marks the night-watchman will let them in at ten. But at six o’clock tomorrow morning they’ll have to be on their way again. Straw and large crates you can curl up inside are provided. At half past nine the gang set off.
At the stroke of ten, they’re all close to their billet. Three of them are at the gate. The others are waiting nearby in the passage, to nip in as soon as the watchman opens the door. Before they even hear the night-watchman, there’s a furious growling and yapping behind the door: the guard-dog. Then the door is unlocked, and one by one they sneak inside. The watchman locks the door after them. The bitch howls with rage and disappointment. She doesn’t understand her master. Normally she is under orders to go for anyone’s legs, and just now, with this collection of deeply suspicious individuals, she is kept on a short leash. The night-watchman slopes on ahead with the angrily glinting dog. The Blood Brothers bring up the rear after a respectful interval. The door of the low storehouse is unbolted, and Jonny has to put down his two marks. Then the old man goes through all their pockets. He’s looking for matches or lighters. In case one of the scapegraces should get it into his head to smoke in there… With all that straw and dry wood around. That would be a right old firework. The guard dog tried a parting snap at the boys. But the nailed collar reminds her that only non-paying guests were to be shredded. The boys are just finding their way around the dark windowless space when the old man locks them in. The freed dog sniffs crossly at the crack between the floor and the bottom of the door. Just let them try and get out.
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