Springtime of the Spirit
Christophe Brecht, a German sniper, has returned from war to find his country in ruins. Eager for work, he accepts an offer from the wealthy weapons manufacturer, Herr Düray. But when Christophe learns that his job entails finding Herr Düray’s runaway teenage daughter, he refuses payment, believing it is his duty to help bring the girl back to her parents’ country mansion. Christophe easily finds Annaliese but is disturbed to discover that the girl has become a socialist activist. Christophe joins the socialists to be near Annaliese, and the two fall for each other as Christophe tries to convince Annaliese that socialism is not God’s way. At first, Annaliese resists Christophe, but when communists try to take over Germany by force, she realizes she loves God and Christophe.
This novel is historically and theologically problematic. Lang unapologetically aligns Christian theology with capitalist ideology, promoting voluntary sharing over government safeguards for the poor as truer to Christian teachings. The desperate conditions of the German working class born of the industrial revolution, the war, and the deaths of nearly one million civilians in 1918 due to malnutrition and influenza hardly figure into this story. Christophe admits the churches pushed for war, but maintains that God should not be blamed for what churches wrongly teach. In addition, he argues that some men are more talented and hard-working than others and should not be forced to share with those who are not. Christophe sympathizes with the Dürays despite their war profiteering, food hoarding, and plans to abandon Germany for better opportunities in America because they are believers. The socialists, on the other hand, he sees as misguided do-gooders willing to resort to force to impose “sharing” on the people.