Children and Fire
Children and Fire tells the story of one day that will forever transform the lives of the people in Burgdorf, Germany, the fictitious village by the river in Ursula Hegi’s bestselling novels. February 27, 1934—the first anniversary of the burning of Reichstag, the Parliament building in Berlin.
Thekla Jansen, a gifted young teacher, loves her students and tries to protect them from the chaos beyond their village. Believing the Nazis’ new regime will not last forever, Thekla begins to relinquish some of her freedoms to keep her teaching position. She has always taken her moral courage for granted, but when each compromise chips away at that courage, she knows she must reclaim it.
Ursula Hegi funnels pivotal moments in history through the experience of Thekla, her students, and the townspeople as she writes along the edge where sorrow and bliss meet, and shows us how one society—educated, cultural, compassionate—can slip into a reality that’s fabricated by propaganda and controlled by fear.
Gorgeously rendered and emotionally taut, Children and Fire confirms Ursula Hegi’s position as one of the most distinguished writers of her generation.
Reading Group Guide
Ursula Hegi's Burgdorf Cycle encompasses 4 novels set in the fictional German village of Burgdorf: Stones from the River, Floating in my Mother’s Palm, The Vision of Emma Blau, and now Children and Fire.
Children and Fire is the story of a single day, February 27, 1934, exactly one year after the burning of the Reichstag (German Parliament.) It is a day that will forever transform the lives of the townspeople.
At the core of this remarkable novel is the question how one teacher, Thekla Jansen—gifted and joyful, passionate and inventive—can become seduced by propaganda during the early months of Hitler’s regime and encourage her 10-year-old students to join the Hitler Youth, believing that membership—hikes and songs and bonfires and uniforms—will be a step toward better schools, better apprenticeships, a better future.
How can a woman we admire choose a direction we don't admire? So much has changed for Thekla, and the people of Burgdorf in the past year. Thekla's lover, Emil see more