SChristoph Peters has prefaced a new novel with a statement intended to shield him from political interpretations. All references to reality, it says, are accidental and not intentional. He only accepts one source: Wolfgang Koeppen’s post-war novel “Das Treibhaus”, published in 1953, which captured the sultry atmosphere of the Bonn Republic, which was still on the ruins of the world war, as a mixture of denial of guilt and newly awakening megalomania. Both times the explanation is wrong. As clearly as the physiognomies of Konrad Adenauer and Kurt Schumacher stood out behind the characters in the novel, it is just as easy to recognize Peters behind the boastful Holstein top politician Wolfgang Kubicki or behind the obsessive-compulsive professor the current Minister of Health.
So why the camouflage? Koeppen’s novel caused a scandal because it addressed the continuities of Nazi government policy and denied the success story of the young Federal Republic. At Peters, the political temperature has cooled significantly. The Berlin Republic that he describes also presents itself as a success story with its good day-care center laws and its inclusion efforts, but there is no big plan behind it, just a hodgepodge of political-moral templates that are constantly being reassembled like sandboxes. That probably gives the book its title.