Lutes, Jason. Berlin: Steinerne Stadt. Hamburg: Carlsen Verlag, 2003.
Berlin: Steinerne Stadt is the first installment of a planned trilogy depicting life in Berlin between September 1928 and May 1929. Through a series of evolving personal relationships involving characters across the socio-economic spectrum, readers learn of life in Germany’s capital during the late Weimar Republic as well as the choices Berliners were confronted with while navigating the political, economic and social unrest of the day. The sense of realism is heightened by both the black and white illustrations as well as the phonetic depiction of each character’s speech which corresponds to his/her relative social status. For instance, the bubble captions of the communist and Nazi street fighters and their families are written in Berlin dialect.
The violence as well as the occasional nudity portrayed makes this graphic novel better suited to college-level students. The novel especially lends itself to conversation courses, as students are exposed to formal and non-formal modes of expression, although the written dialect referred to above will require further explanation. The portrayal of the rise of Nazism as less than a foregone conclusion will also lend itself to culture courses seeking a better understanding of this often neglected topic.