what are thunderclap these words for me what were the word and why were they a thunderclap

M. Hamel, the teacher, told the children that it was their last French lesson. Hereafter, only German would be taught in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. The new master would come the next day. So, these quoted words of M. Hamel were a thunderclap for the narrator which shocked and surprised him.

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