A breakthrough moment for the 17-year-old me was being able to read an entire, if slim, book in German. We were led through it patiently and ably and at just the right pace by our teacher, Barry Chacksfield, at Solihull School.
It was a good choice for us students. The central character was a youngster like us and the narrative was presented in easy-to-digest chunks. It was also gave a glimpse of internal German opposition to the Nazi regime in the late 1930s.
I remember liking the symbolism of the “Lesender Klosterschüler” carving: reading as a political act of resistance. Mostly, I sympathized with the boy’s third and definitive reason for wanting to escape from his home town of Rerik: “Weil Sansibar da ist”: because Zanzibar exists.