If you are interested, my reviews of the first two books are here and here.
Hieronymus ("Mus") is back home with his parents, and a little lost as to what to do with his life now. He is still a young man of 25, and is actually hoping for a possibility to enter university, but it is not to be, much to his disappointment.
While he was a PoW in Canada, the promise was that prisoners who worked hard would be released sooner - that promise was not kept, and Mus now learns of former comrades who used the time in prison camps for studying and that time now counts as if it was spent at uni. He is deeply disappointed by the treatment he and all the other young men who fought for what they thought was a good cause receive; not just by the government, but also by the general public.
During his war and PoW years, he has turned into a pacifist and can not believe it when Germany is setting up an army again, only a few years after the war. He feels the unfairness of the "Währungsreform" (currency reform; the Deutsche Mark, or D-Mark, was introduced in 1948, and every man, woman and child received the exact same amount of money to get them started. But of course those manufcaturers and retailers who had been hoarding goods, waiting for the economy to get into less troubled waters again, had a huge advantage, and many became very rich in those first few years after the Währungsreform) and unjust treatment at work, where those who suck up to the bosses, frequenting the same church on Sundays, are given the jobs with better working hours and even find themselves high on the list for newly built houses.
Mus does not want to suck up to anyone, and he does not mind hard work; he has been used to that all his life. But he does want to spend time with his young wife and their little son, and most of all he wants for them to live together in a proper flat: for the first years of their marriage, he still lives in Stuttgart at the home for single men provided by his employer, while his wife and baby son live with her mother in Ellwangen, a train ride of nearly two hours away.
What to do on weekends and days off? Mus is torn between the needs of house hunting and seeing his family, and I am sure those were difficult times for them all.
Eventually, a flat is found, and as time goes by and a little girl is born and all the family is healthy and happy, Mus founds happiness in his private life, although never being entirely happy with how his professional life never really got off the ground and none of the dreams of his youth in that respect come true.
As in the other books, the author is very frank and does not shy away from talking about the brief but intense love affairs he had prior to his marriage, or the tricks he was up to in the time right after the war to merely survive (and help others to do the same). He is involved in the smuggling of groceries, an occupation many people found necessary to get hold of even the most basic things such as flour and eggs. To quote from the book,
Ein paar Eier und etwas Mehl genügten 1948, um einen ganz gewöhnlichen Werktag zu einem Fest werden zu lassen. Leider haben wir alle diese Tatsache nur allzu schnell wieder vergessen.
("A few eggs and some flour in 1948 were enough to turn an ordinary day into a celebration. We have sadly forgotten this fact way too quickly.")
I very much liked the accounts of the years when Mus and his wife and children were enjoying happier times in their new, modern flat in Stuttgart. The descriptions of their daily life and of special occasions such as birthdays, carnival and Christmas are like browsing a family album - even without the pictures. For the author's children, Angelika Schneider (née Hirschle) and Ulrich Hirschle, it must have been very touching to read their father's memoirs. Together, they had the books published, and I recommend them to anyone who can read German - especially if there is some affinity with the places mentioned, such as Stuttgart, Ellwangen, Hohenberg and others.
I am actually a bit sad that I can not accompany "Mus" any further. He died in 1985, and it would have been interesting to read his account of the years after 1960, with my own memories of the 1970s and early 1980s to compare.