In this poignant biographical novel Peter Pontiac reconstructs the life and death of his father, Joop Pollmann, who volunteered as a war correspondent for the SS during the Second World War.
It took twenty years before Peter Pontiac was ready to publish his father’s story as a comic. When he was compiling his biography Kraut, Pontiac drew on diaries, drawings, poems and other documents that his father had left behind. The result is an ornate black-and-white collage of images and text in which Pontiac tries to find answers to important questions that have occupied him all his life. Why did Joop Pollmann work for the SS? How did he come to that decision? What was his life like before the war? How did he pick his life back up again after the war? And what exactly happened on the final day of his life, when he disappeared into the sea off Curaçao?
In Kraut, Pontiac does not attempt to exonerate his father: ‘I don’t want to be your apologist. I don’t feel the need to chase after your ghost with a cloak to cover your sins.” The last time Pontiac sees his father is in hospital, where Joop is recovering from yet another car accident. He has just been fired and got divorced and, when he leaves the hospital, he runs off to Curaçao, never to return.
Pollmann’s hire car is later found on the beach at Daaibooi Bay, with the keys still in the ignition. Did he commit suicide? Did he drown while he was swimming? Pontiac says only that he ‘dissolved’ in the bay. So the reader does not receive an answer to all of the questions, but is sure by the end of Kraut that Pontiac has succeeded in turning a traumatic relationship between a father and a son into great art.