Winner of the Bavarian Award for Literature and the Best German Graphic Novel prize at the 2015 PENG Awards
Graphic novel Irmina, based on the life of the author’s grandmother, tells a story about a young woman and her gradual capitulation to Nazi ideology. In the mid-1930s, Irmina, an ambitious young German, moves to London. There she meets Howard from Barbados, one of the first black students at Oxford, and they fall in love. Their relationship comes to an abrupt ending when Irmina is forced to return to Hitler’s Germany. There she finds a job at the Ministry of War and hopes to return to England. However, the letters she sends to Howard keep coming back and Irmina finally marries a Nazi sympathizer. The couple ignores everything going on in Germany and silently accept the Nazi regime…
In the award-winning Irmina, Barbara Yelin perfectly conveys the atmosphere of pre-war and war-time Germany and explores how and why did Irmina, once a brave rule-breaker, ended up silently accepting Nazism. That opens up disturbing and painful questions about the role of ordinary people in criminal regimes, their choices and complicity: how much did they know and why did they ignore it? What caused such a sharp turn in Irmina’s way of thinking? Did she know whom she was supporting and was it a conscious choice? Irmina is an important graphic novel and a timely reminder of all dangers, past and present, of such choices, silence and passivity.
“The basis of this comic book is a family story about a personal, but also public political destiny: this comic book is a master-piece.”
– Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“In Irmina Barbara Yelin tells a story which satisfies even the highest of standards – storytelling-wise, drawing-wise, artistically and politically.”
– Frankfurter Rundschau