The Schellberg Cycle

Renate Edler loves to visit her grandmother in the house on Schellberg Street. She often  meets up with her friend Hani Gödde who lives nearby. This year, though, it is not to be.
Just a few weeks after a night when synagogues are burnt and businesses owned by Jews are looted, Renate finds out a terrible secret about her family.
At a time when the world is at war and the horrors of the Holocaust are slowly becoming apparent, Renate has to leave behind her home and her friends and become somebody she never thought she could be.
The house on Schellberg Street needs to stay strong. Will it and those who work in it be strong enough?
Will Renate ever feel at home again? And what of those left behind?    
 Clara will not be daunted. Her life will not end when her beloved husband dies too young. She will become a second mother to the young children who live away from home in order to visit a rather special school. When life becomes desperate for a particular class of disabled children growing up in Nazi Germany she takes a few risks. Is her ultimate faith in the goodness of human beings a fatal flaw that leads to her tragedy, or is her story actually one of hope?

"Clara's Story: a Holocaust Biography" is the second story in the Schellberg Cycle. It might be described as a tragedy or it might be described as a story of survival. In the end it is up to the reader or even Clara herself to decide.

It is labelled as fiction and it is labelled as biography. Holocaust biography. Historical fiction. It reads like fiction. It engages like fiction. It is written as a novel. But Clara Lehrs really existed, as did many of the characters in the Schellberg Cycle. We have a few, a very few verifiable facts about them. The rest we have had to find out by repeating some of their experiences and by using the careful writer's imagination.

Certainly the Schellberg Cycle examines the stories of several German Jews. Ironically Clara does not consider herself to be Jewish and sees no danger. She possibly needs Holocaust education even more than her readers do. Her dealings with Steiner Education help her to throw a little light on her situation and she becomes engaged in her own form of Holocaust resistance. So, we might even label this Holocaust fiction.

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 "Girl in a Smart Uniform" is the third book in the Schellberg Cycle, a collection of novels inspired by a bundle of photocopied letters that arrived at a small cottage in Wales in 1979. The letters give us first-hand insights into what life was like growing up in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.

It is the most fictional of the stories to date, though some characters, familiar to those who have read the first two books, appear again here. Clara Lehrs, Karl Schubert and Dr Kühn really existed. We have a few, a very few, verifiable facts about them. The rest we have had to find out by repeating some of their experiences and by using the careful writer's imagination.

Gisela adores her brother Bear, her gorgeous BDM uniform, and her little half-brother Jens. She does her best to be a good German citizen, and is keen to help restore Germany to its former glory. She becomes a competent and respected BDM leader. But life begins to turn sour. Her oldest brother Kurt can be violent, she soon realises that she is different from other girls, she feels uncomfortable around her mother’s new lover, and there is something not quite right about Jens. It becomes more and more difficult to be the perfect German young woman.

We know that BDM girls set fire to the house in Schellberg Street but got the children out first. This story seeks to explain what motivated the girls to do that, and what happened to them afterwards.

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