© Fani Fazii
In the course of the 1960s, rural agriculture with livestock markets, self-sufficiency and hard back-breaking work disappeared rapidly yet very quietly in Germany. Drawing on the example of his family, Ewald Frie writes of the great break. With just a few strokes, he shows how his parents’ world died out, his siblings followed other ways of life and overall social change took hold of the country.
People everywhere are quietly bidding farewell to rural life. Ewald Frie takes a surprising and personal perspective on this process of change. Using his family from the Münsterland region as an example, he describes tensions that have developed between town and country, and which we are currently grappling with intensely. With his astonishingly simple yet also poetic language – always empathetic, never nostalgic – Frie allows us to enter a world in transition. Based on interviews with his siblings, Ewald Frie has written a profound work of historical non-fiction that is also accessible and entertaining. This history of everyday life is rooted in details that are easy to overlook and from which great ideas develop. An inspiring example of innovative historiography.
The peasant world of hard work in the fields, milking cows and castrating piglets, of religiosity and self-sufficiency – this way of life has disappeared so quietly that one can only wonder in retrospect. Sixty-year-old history professor Ewald Frie himself comes from a farming family. In this book, he talks to his siblings about their common origins and home, lovingly and unpretentiously evoking a way of life that is no longer familiar to many. And he takes stock: What has been lost with urbanisation and the expansion of education? What have we gained with social change? The fact that Frie does not always have simple answers to simple questions is one of the strengths of this book, which is as entertaining as it is insightful.
Ewald Frie is a professor of modern history at the University of Tübingen.