Frau Gruber's Camp, a novel written by Ted Barr
Sitting on a bench one day opposite a chickens coup and observing the coup's workers busily loading hens onto a truck, an idea struck Ted Bar's mind. The similarity of the vision he observed to some dark moments in Europe's mid 20th century history was striking. That was the moment this book was first conceived.
On the lower slopes of the peaceful Austrian Alps resides the acclaimed poultry farm of Frau Gruber. In this serene setting living with Frau Gruber is her young boy Adolf, the farm's foreman Herr Schickl and several other faithful farm hands that carry out the monotonous chores of the farm.
For a number of years, Frau Gruber's farm has been the unsurpassed champion of all egg producing farms in the land. Though the methods practiced in the farm might be regarded as somewhat drastic and harsh nobody seems to question them so long as the farm shows productive results that are beyond dispute year after year.
But gradually things begin to go terribly amiss. The regular brutal handling of the farm's chicken population takes one further step and becomes full scale genocide. Practical logic and economical aims are forfeited for the benefit of the complete annihilation of the roosters…
A young student of the Linz University arrives with an innocent aspiration of finishing his theoretical studies on the civilization of the roosters, their dialect and traditions.
Finding himself right in the middle of this unexpected transformation of the farms' functions, he takes the ungrateful position of eyewitness and historiographer to the decline and ruin of the roosters' world. He tape-records relentlessly their conversations and chants until the very last days of the farm.
In the world of "Frau Gruber's Farm", chickens have evolved into an advanced society and have acquired a capacity to communicate verbally.
Though taking off from a mainly conjured description of Adolf Hitler's early childhood, 'Frau Gruber's Farm' does not stop at relating a story parallel in ways to European Jewish history. It evolves into a fable on overall human experience in the 20th century and at the same time, it is written through 21st century eyes as a contemporary bravado.
The reader is gently swayed until he submerges slowly into the imaginary micro-cosmos that this novel opens before him. A fantastic universe that is both poetic and terrible, sometimes heart catching and at other times horrifying.
The portrayal of the roosters' world, their naïve wisdom and poetry, is in contrast to the hell on earth which the humans of Frau Gruber's Farm create and live in, and into which they obstinately insist upon dragging all others. Destruction of the roosters is accompanied by a heedless destruction of colours, beauty and hope.
Burn down the coop
Let the yellow emerge
Inflict wounds on our bodies
Give us back the red
Scatter away the smoke
So we will see the blue sky
(A poem chanted by the roosters)