Book Review. Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner
There’s an element of what could have been in Erich Kastner’s 1929 novel Emil and the Detectives set in Berlin.
Germany’s capital city is busy, noisy and modern with its trams, motorcars and shops. A city at peace and at odds at how we are supposed to see between the wars Berlin.
It’s a city where hyper inflation, violent Nazis, injured soldiers, communist agitators and nationalism don’t exist. Instead it is a city of business, of hotels, policemen and children playing in the street.
If only Germany had not descended into the madness of Hitler’s ideology – how Europe might have been.
Emil represents all that is good in humanity. Honest, loyal, respectful and positive as well as keen to help his mother and catch the thief who has stolen his cash.
And he is helped by dozens of children who want to help and see trying to catch a thief as the best sort of adventures where adults are less important than them as they take charge and organise the trapping of the robber.

Kastner opposed the Nazis and remained in Germany throughout the war and despite being condemned by the regime as undesirable he survived the horrors by keeping his head down.
Incredibly he witnessed his own books being burnt by the Nazis although Emil and the Detectives was not banned mainly due to its popularity.
Harry Mottram

The novel has been made into a film at least twice and was published in English by Puffin Books.

Rapscallion Magazine is an online publication edited by Harry Mottram

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