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Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home
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Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  530 ratings  ·  132 reviews
Named a Best Book of 2018 by The New York Times Critics, The Boston Globe, NPR, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Time (Honorable Mention), Library Journal (Best Graphic Novels), and Comics Beat

A revelatory, visually stunning graphic memoir by award-winning artist Nora Krug, telling the story of her attempt to confront the hidden truths of her f
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Scribner
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Manny
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Manny by: Yllacaspia
This is an unusual book, which somehow manages to be both lyrical and extremely matter-of-fact. Nora is German, and although she has lived most of her life in the US and was anyway born long after the events in question, she feels horrible guilt about what her country has done. Over six million people were cruelly murdered; surely a large part of the German population knew about it and in some way were involved. After a while, her initially unspecific feelings begin to crystallise out into a pre ...more
Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)
Can I give it an extra star?
Tatiana
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tatiana by: Manny
This would be a great companion read to Svetlana Alexievich's The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II.

Both authors try to unearth and record the unspoken, suppressed truths of the WWII. The difference is that Russians were mandated to forget the ugly parts of the war to elevate the winners' narrative of heroism and bravery, and Germans - to hide their guilt and shame, not only from the others, but themselves and their families.

Krug's journey to discover the extent of
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notgettingenough
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sociology, german
Started yesterday, finished this morning: this is the first adult picture book I've wanted to read, and as anticipated, I couldn't put it down.

I suppose you could shelve this in some rather specific way. The 'my grandparents were Nazis' memoir shelf. Or the 'ordinary people in the period 1930-1950 in Nazi Germany' shelf. For me, I'd put it under 'everybody should read this'. It asks all the questions, without coming up with any answers. But keeping those questions on the tip of our collective to
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Carrie Templeton
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am almost overwhelmed at the depth and intensity of this graphic memoir. My husband is a second generation German American, his father was born in Germany shortly before the end of WWII and his mother is of Jewish heritage. As a child, my husband wasn’t taught German and learned very little of his father’s family, never heard stories of the homeland. Reading this book felt like peeking behind an unspoken curtain into some inkling of my father-in-law’s thoughts. I was absolutely captivated both ...more
Laura
In "The Germans" episode of Fawlty Towers, Basil is told not to mention the war, but he does, frequently, until the guest break out in tears. At the time, I thought it odd that the germans would be upset about it. As Basil said, they started it.

I bring this up, because the author of this story, is one such German, who knows about the war, but it is not talked about, though her father's older brother fought and died in World War II. This memoir of how she doesn't feel that she has a home in her f
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Elizabeth
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Belonging is an absolutely beautiful memoir full of questions about identity, family and homeland. Nora Krug was born and raised in Germany, in the shadow of World War II. Belonging is a deeply personal memoir about her struggles with German identity, coming to terms with her family history, and exploring the German idea of Heimat, or homeland. Her journey leads her to talking to Holocaust survivors in her new homeland of Brooklyn, traveling with her mother and father to Germany, meeting many un ...more
Geoffrey
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
(Note: I received an advanced reader's copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley)

Between the real life photos and documents that are mixed with absolutely gorgeous art, and Nora Krug's meticulous documentation of her quest to unravel and understand her family's history, it's impossible to not feel like you were placed in the author's shoes and taken along for every single step of her journey. You will be unsettled by the same questions and worries that weigh on her, end up feeling the same thirst
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Q
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Belonging by Nora Krug
A German Reckons with History and Home.

I haven’t rated this yet because I listened to it on audio and still waiting for the graphic novel from library to see the pics/artwork. Nora Krug was the narrator for the audiobook. I really appreciated hearing her voice. Her story. It was a great book.

This is a book about a young German woman born a couple generations after WWII and working through her personal shame of being born German and the confusion of her families part durin
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Bean
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: yikes, beans-reviews
Must write a detailed review later but I have many, many thoughts.

- It seems the author's central motivator is ascertaining what amount of guilt and shame she feels (personally, ancestrally, culturally) is actually hers. Along the way, the actual suffering of Jewish people in WWII (including intergenerational suffering for their descendants, some of whom she interviews) becomes a backdrop.

- The illustrations of anti-Semitism make me wonder, who is this book for? If this was a memoir of a Japane
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Shelly
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Belonging by Nora Krug is a fantastic graphic memoir. It’s a personal story, one about her family, about Germany’s ugly Nazi history, and what it means to be German today. I highly recommend it and it’s so well done inside. Perfect blend of art and text. Just great.
Deanna (Deanna Reads Books)
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review was originally posted on my review blog Deanna Reads Books
This graphic memoir is a really deep and poignant look at one's self. It's a really heavy topic, but I found it awesome to experience Nora's journey of self-discovery cool to be done in the graphic medium. I also loved that it wasn't a typical graphic novel. The book was drawn as if written in a notebook, and there were even real photos put into it to make it feel more real. One page might have a real photo of her grandfather
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Hannah
Nov 09, 2018 rated it liked it
As a present day German-American woman, Nora Krug struggles with her birth country’s past and the guilt associated with WWII, the Holocaust, and Nazis. In this personal memoir, Krug seeks to find out her family’s involvement with the Nazis and to reconcile her sense of belonging and home, or “Heimat.”

Krug writes and illustrates her memoir like a graphic novel or scrapbook. It is filled with drawings, old family photos, letters, and homework assignments. Much like a scrapbook, the book frequently
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Heather
Jul 30, 2018 rated it liked it
It's not popular to rate this only a 3, but I have to do it. The illustrations throughout were truly interesting and the best part of the book. I really liked that each page was it's own little surprise of images. The writing though... it dragged. It dragged for so long with little to come of it. You know those movies you watch where they just ramble through a day and there is no real 'story'? That's how this book felt. She has guilt, curiosity, and more guilt. Which is fine, but it was boring a ...more
Molly
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fascinating memoir of one woman's attempt to understand and connect with her own past, as well as the complicated past of Germany. It's well worth a read.

I received access to this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Belinda Carvalho
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
I read the edition that's called Heimat. 'Heimat' is a nuanced German word meaning not just home but also including notions of belonging, family and where you really come from. This book is marketed as a graphic novel in the same way that family memoirs such as Mouse and Persepolis are but I felt this book transcended this format and is some kind of an important historical document merged with beautiful modified personal family pictures and text (including war documents, copy books, lists). I di ...more
Deb
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We all Search: for roots, meaning, answers, stories, purpose. Nora Krug’s Belonging is the author’s journey of making her way back to the German towns her parents and relatives are from and learning their stories. It’s about Searching, Finding her own way, figuring out Collective Guilt, following the bread crumbs, hoping they’ll lead her ‘home.’

This ‘graphic memoir’ engaged me from the moment I opened it. Mesmerizing, creative, dramatic. I’ve never seen anything like it. (That’s a compliment of
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Hans
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book really hits home for me. With the art-collage memoir, paging through the book is like discovering a lost treasure trove of German artifacts and German experiences--things known to me and things that ring true to stories told and retold.

My father was a child in Germany during the war and lost his father (i.e. my Opa) in the war. While his mother, brother and sister remained in Germany, he emigrated to America during his 20s--a bit of random chance and an opportunity to work a trade that
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Bob
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: germany
Set in Karlsruhe, where my German ancestors happened to originate. Nora Krug felt an intense guilt-by-association, from what happened with the nazis. She tried to come to terms with this by digging into the WW-II activities of her grandparents. Not an easy thing to deal with, but she bravely and thoroughly collected the facts.

How does someone resolve such a thing? Even though the events happened before you were born, what are you supposed to think, especially when your immediate heritage was dir
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Sarah
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A German woman comes to terms with her country's past, while trying to determine the meaning of home.

German people do not like to go around waving their country's flag or singing their country's national anthem, because they understand the negative connotation of German nationalism. They get that their country murdered many many innocent people. They get that many of their grandparents were culpable in the murdering of those many many people. Like many Germans, Nora Krug is afraid to research he

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Bruce Katz
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I’m not sure how to rate a book like this, what kinds of criteria to use. The author, a German expatriate married to a Jewish husband, has created a strikingly original work — a chimera — of enormous power, grace, and courage. Drawings, photographs, documents, and words are brought together in such a way as to capture the emotional complexity of her quest to discover her family’s lives (and, to a very real extent, the lives of other Germans) during the Nazi years, both before and during the war. ...more
Jessica Samuelson
This was such a stunning book for me. “Stunning” in that it affected me in a way I did not expect.

I have read lots of books about WWII—non-fiction, fiction, children’s & YA books, even a couple graphic novels/memoirs. Despite all that though, I had never given much thought to how that time period affects modern Germans. When I thought of post-war Germany at all it was mostly in relation to the Berlin Wall.

With Nora as my guide, however, I began to understand the struggle that many Germans fa
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Cristina
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This graphic novel was on a list of best books somewhere so I requested the local library purchase it. I love them in part because they have never turned my requests down. It's about a thirty-something German woman living in NYC who feels guilt for her German roots and digs into her ancestry to figure out if she has Nazis in her family tree. I like the concept and she does a thorough job of shaking down all the family members who are still living, as well as records from her hometown archives. T ...more
Barbara
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing book. In a patchwork, a scrapbook of handwritten text, drawings and cartoons, old postcards and photos, original documents from the 1930s and 1940s, Nora Krug pieces together what her "normal German family" never told her - namely, how they behaved during the Nazi period and immediately after the war. Producing this book involved meticulous detective work and unearthing all the things which were never spoken about, finding her way through the silences and the shame. This is a ...more
Vanessa (splitreads)
2.5. Belonging feels like an innovative and unconventional graphic memoir: Krug's pictures and mixed-media are worth looking through in my opinion. The first third of this book had me hooked - I was invested in learning about the author's family. As she attempted to gather stories and government files, I was waiting for the big reveals alongside her. But, for most of the book, there weren't reveals. Overall, I felt this was a scattered story... there just wasn't much information to keep me engag ...more
Abbey
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful & sad book.

I adore the artistic style that Krug used to tell her story - handwritten text, collaged photographs, old papers and new drawings help tell us about her families' lives in Germany during WWII. The images help the sad history become a little more palatable, making Nazi Germany only slightly less disturbing as Krug, and the reader, try to figure out just which side the family fell on in this dark time in history.

Considering our current political climate here in the
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Morris
I don't think there are enough words to accurately describe how beautiful this graphic novel is. The mix of various diary entries, photographs, various illustrations, and excerpts from propaganda combine to pack an emotional punch. I can't recommend this memoir about growing up German after the horrors of the Nazis enough.


This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Sarah
A beautifully written memoir dealing with the struggle of growing up as a second generation German post WW2; outlining Krug's struggle to identify as a German national whilst fighting her own inherited guilt at the events of the Holocaust. A quick and moving read, enlightening to a different mentality and culture, Krug draws you into her search for answers that are lost in time; highlighted elegantly in a format reminiscent of a family scrapbook.
Lisa
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was amazing, but it's hard to encapsulate my feelings on it. The author's journey of her feelings and thoughts on her country and her family's history are similarly ambivalent - she's horrified by the possibilities but continues to investigate what happened. As with many of the best histories, she acknowledges the unknowability of much of what she's asking. I enjoyed the mix of the personal and the "historical," as well as the artistic style throughout. I just wish the editio ...more
Dlmrose
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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Nora Krug is a German-American author, illustrator and associate professor in the Illustration Program at the Parsons School of Design in New York City. Her drawings and visual narratives have appeared in publications including The New York Times, the Guardian and le Monde Diplomatique, and in a number of anthologies. A recipient of numerous prestigious fellowships, her books are included in the L ...more
“Our backyard in Karlsruhe, in the south of Germany, faced a US military air base, where planes regularly took off and landed. I heard them hissing and roaring above our house like dangerous animals that had - unbelievably - decided to spare our lives. I understood that something had once gone terribly wrong, and that they were watching us to assure we didn't do again whatever it was that we had done before.” 0 likes
“I don't remember when I first heard the word Konzentrationslager, but I became aware of it long before I learned about the Holocaust. I sensed that concentration camps were sinister places, and I imagined that the people who lived there were forced to concentrate to the point of physical anguish. But I was too afraid to ask, feeling that this was something embarrassing to talk about, something that grown-ups discussed in whispers, something evoking the same unsettling feeling as the man who sometimes gave candy and balloons to my brother and me when we were playing alone in the front yard.” 0 likes
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