Patterns of Childhood by Christa Wolf
Patterns of Childhood, originally published as Kindheitsmuster in German, is a book written by Christa Wolf and published in 1976. Christa Wolf was a prominent East German novellist known for works such as Der geteilte Himmel (Divided Heaven) and Kassandra. Although Patterns of Childhood is not an autobiography, it has parallels with Wolf's own childhood in Nazi Germany. It is set in multiple time periods and locations, with the primary narratives revolving around the second-person narrator's childhood in Nazi Germany, her return to her hometown as an adult, and her reflections while writing. Patterns explores themes of memory, Nazism, and guilt. Thus it provides insight into the upbringings of those who lived under totalitarian regimes, and problems that arise from such a childhood. The novel's main settings relate to major historical events during and following World War II. The sections recounting the earlier parts of the narrator's childhood are set in Landsberg an der Warthe (referred to as “L”), now Gorzów Wielkopolski in Poland. During the course of the book her family was forced to leave due to the invading Soviet army. After the war, Landsberg became Polish territory as a part of the post World War II Potsdam Conference. The postwar settlement also established the German Democratic Republic, the socialist state where Wolf lived for much of her life.