The i Tetralogy by Mathias B. Freese tells the horrific details of the Holocaust through three extremely different characters. In the first part of the novel, the reader is introduced to i, a Jewish prisoner. The second part is “I am Gunther,” a German guard ordered to maim and murder.
The third section is “Gunther’s Lament,” and lastly is “Gunther’s Redux.” Conrad is Gunther’s son and must cope with the devastating past his father helped create as well as the present he cannot escape.
Each of these sections is written without pause or resistance. The lines are well-written and honest. There is a raw and crude melody in each
of the four sections, through which runs a common thread of pain, sorrow, and loss. Although many books exist about the Holocaust, The i Tetralogy chills with the opening line of “I am rectum” to describe how a nameless Jewish prisoner views himself. He has learned how to stay alive by keeping himself invisible to the guards. Remaining as “small” as possible buys him time on earth. Taking as many beatings as he can without complaint keeps him physically alive.
This section mortifies readers as he goes through his daily life and struggles to survive in a concentration camp. Throughout the book, Freese evokes words and images
that stimulate emotional responses in his readers. i’s monologues evolve into trances and illustrate how he and others survive, struggle, and cope in such desperate times.
Freese’s decision to include the other sections “I am Gunther” and “Gunther Redux”
lend credibility and balance to his work. Although his work is fictionalized history, Freese writes about real events in the past. By combining the thought process of the murderer and prey, he creates a more complete picture. Nazi Germany routinized murder. Freeze captures the inhumanity in the human being and unravels him emotionally. Gunther is one of the many who take one step and then another until it is too late to go back. His son, Conrad
,later must grapple with his father’s decision and the adverse impact on present and future generations.
Challenging the limits of madness, Freese writes boldly and gives insights into the human mind which are, sometimes, uncomfortable. The Holocaust is a tragic part of history that should be identified, explored and understood in order to not be repeated. However, his vivid graphic account of fictional history is so powerful, intentionally frightening, and emotional that The i Tetralogy is best read carefully and not by children.
Through Freese’s intellectual artistry, psychological constructs, and devotion to truth, readers gain a much better sense of the Holocaust reality in the 1940s from
more than the Jewish perspective (which is what many books present). Rather, he
pieces together a multifaceted picture for his readers, forcing them to contemplate the hows and whys of the past for themselves. His recreation of the cruelty which reigned over an entire race and a country disillusioned will haunt many generations to come.