German Read-Along #2!

Some of you may remember this thing I started back in February, where I read through Die Bestimmung (Divergent) and wrote about it as I went along. Well, I’ve decided I want to do that again.

This time, I’m going to read Kind 44 by Tom Rob Smith (Child 44, translated by Armin Gontermann) because I do want to see the film at some point and a crime novel seems like a good change of pace. It’s been a little more difficult to split up, due to the fact that there aren’t chapters as such; the book is split into five larger parts related to its chronology and then parts within that related to location. I’ve split it into eighteen parts myself, with 15-30 pages each, which I guess is about the length of a chapter in the average book. I’m going to start off with one post a week (on Sundays), which I know means it will take a long time to finish, but I can always change this later – and unlike with Die Bestimmung, I’ve never read Kind 44 before, in any language, so it’s all new to me too.

Kind 44


Like for Die Bestimmung, I’ve started a memrise course that will document all of the vocabulary I have to look up (and I’m nearly done loading all the words onto the other one, I promise!) and right now, it has the vocab loaded from the Klappentext (blurb) of the back of the book.

In case you were debating whether or not you wanted to buy it, here is the blurb (in German):

Moskau 1953. In der Sowjetunion herrscht die nackte Angst. Stalins letzte Säuberungswelle wütet im Land. Die Staatssicherheit hat Ohren und Augen überall – und jeder denunziert jeden, in der Hoffnung, die eigene Haut zu retten.


Der hochdekorierte Kriegsheld und Geheimdienstoffizier Leo Demidow wird zu einem Kollegen geschickt. Fjodors kleiner Sohn ist ums Leben gekommen – und Fjodor besteht darauf, dass es kein Unfall war, sondern brutaler Kindsmord. Diese Behauptung kann die Familie das Leben kosten, denn die herrschende Ideologie sagt: Im real existierenden Sozialismus gibt es kein Verbrechen. Warum sollte in der perfekten Gesellschaft jemand Grund haben zu töten? Es gelingt Leo, den verzweifelten Vater zum Schweigen zu bringen. Aber er selbst kann das tote Kind nicht vergessen.


Leo beginnt heimlich im Fall des ermordeten Jungen zu ermitteln – und stellt fest, dass einem bestialischen Killer immer mehr Kinder zum Opfer fallen. Aber seine Nachforschungen bringen Leo in tödliche Gefahr: Der Apparat bestraft die kleinste Abweichung von der vorgegebenen Verhaltensnorm mit gnadenloser Härte. Aus dem Karriere-Offizier wird ein Gejagter. Irgendwann hat er nur noch ein Ziel: den Mörder zu stoppen, ehe die Geheimdienst-Kollegen Leo selbst zur Strecke bringen…

Like I said, it looks like a good change of pace – it’s a historical crime novel, very unlike Die Bestimmung‘s dystopian adventure setting – and I don’t know that much about the Soviet Union in the 1950s (apart from the fact that Stalin died in 1953), so I’m hoping to learn something. I also think the contrast between Leo’s determination to find out what’s happening and the (real) official party line on serial killers in the Soviet Union – which was that “serial murder was strictly a decadent Western phenomenon” is going to be interesting, as clearly he’s going to be pulled in all kinds of directions.

If you’re interested in reading this with me, then let me know! I’m going to read the first part this week; that’s the part headed Sowjetunion, Ukraine – Das Dorf Tscherwoj, which is about the first 25 pages of the book. Like last time, I’ll be commentating in German, though I am happy to talk about it in English too if you read it in that language. 🙂

So does anyone want to read this with me? What else are you reading this summer, and in which language? 


  1. Good luck with this book reading project. It’s really nice that you are sharing the new words you come across in the form of a memrise course. When you find a new word, do you try to put it into an SRS deck while you are reading, or do you come back later and do it?

    At the moment I’m reading through a book in Danish called “En anden verden” and I’m opting to do the latter. It means that I have to read the chapters twice: once for the feel of the story, and once again with the intention to stop reading and make notes.

    • Ha thanks. Since I’m reading on kindle, I tend to highlight new words as I go (because then they’re all stored as a list in the notes section) and then I put them in a spreadsheet/SRS afterwards so I don’t interrupt the flow and get bored – but yeah, I usually end up re-reading to make notes and the like. It’s like you said, the first time really gets you the feel of the story and the second time you can look at the nitty-gritty language parts. Plus, if I re-read, it gives me the chance to look up any major, re-occurring unknown words, so by the re-read I have a better idea of what’s going on. 🙂

      How’s your Danish book going?

      • It sounds like the kindle is perfect for this type of stuff. I just use Anki running on my smartphone for taking notes the second time round, and I have to make sure to write down the new words in context, otherwise I struggle to remember where I originally saw them when I do my flashcards.

        As for the Danish book progress, I’m slowly making my way through it, but it is also an assignment from my language school – so on top of the rereading and notes I’m doing individually, there are also special comprehension questions I have to do, too! Nothing worth getting ever comes easy I guess…

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