Uwe Timm has courage enough for talking about his older brother, Karl Heinz, died during the Russian campaign of the German army in World War II when the novelist was just a child.
It's not an easy choice. The risk was pretty clear: writing an elegy on a 19 years old boy sent to death by a regime without having any bad intention from his own, but just obeying to orders.
Timm doesn't justify his brother at all.
From the few letters Karl Heinz sent home during the war, Timm tries to get what he could think while fighting on the front investigating on the possibility that he could even have found pleasure in killing. Karl Heinz might have been a victim of the situation, but there is no victimism in these extremely focused and introspective pages.
At the same time the decision of publishing the private letters of soldier Karl Heinz has been taken by Uwe Timm after many years, waiting to be the only living member of his family.
This book is not a masterpiece nor an enjoyable reading: but it's a good attempt to wonder the personality of a brother that Timm lost too early without having the possibility of knowing him.