Who would have thought that the novel concerning middle aged couple dropping postcards on stairwells of random buildings would be so thrilling But make no mistake They were not ordinary cards They carried on their surface some home truths and it was reason enough to give your head to executioner Alone in Berlin or Every man dies alone reads like first rate thriller though it s something It s a record, a meticulous one, of awakening and refusal Awakening of spirit and refusal to be part of murderous and inhuman system any It had its roots in personal matters at first place but it quickly became something bigger.There are so many things the story so strongly resonates with readers It was written shortly after the war ended and has an air of something to be closest to depictured events and the fact it was based on police reports gives it even authenticity The other reason is Fallada s style Sometimes it feels very unsophisticated, unpolished even Maybe it s his own unique voice or perhaps the effect he wrote it in barely three weeks And third reason and maybe the most important is the novel is based on true events and Fallada changed only some details.Literary Anna and Otto Quangel are based on Elise and Otto Hampel case The married couple through almost two years were delivering hand wrote cards calling people to resistance against the Third Reich After arresting they were tried for high treason and executed on April 1943 There are facts and the novel is fictionalized account of their life with some rather cosmetic changes.It s captivating and fascinating story and though I knew the outcome from the start I loved reading it There was something touching in the way Anna and Otto, this seemingly cold and remote Otto, were discussing their deed and how they imagined their cards circulating among people, making its way through factories to open people eyes One could say it s naivety from their part to think such an action could bring collapse of Nazism One could even shrug their shoulders on unimportance of their doings but in the long run consequences were deadly serious Hans Fallada brilliantly evoked an atmosphere of growing horror and menace, constant terror, Gestapo agents and people turned into snoopers that for fear or money were spying their families and neighbours He created unforgettable protagonists both these heroic and mean spirited as well, and some of them in best Dickensian manner.Anna and Otto Quangel are neither young nor rebellious and in the beginning even not very hostile to Nazi politics Hardly heroic material, indeed The moment Otto Quangel finds out how many from over two hundred postcards he wrote with his untrained hand really reached its readers is truly heartbreaking You may say their action brought only danger to them and people they cared for without much effect You can t be wrong Even the smallest stone can turn the course of avalanche.4.5 5 Hans Fallada has written an astonishing but ultimately tragic novel of German resistance to Nazism and the ever formidable Third Reich inferno, and I was stunned to learn it took something like 60 years for it s first English publication, and was penned in less than a month Also Fallada could have escaped Germany as a man whose books had been banned by the Nazis, and who had spent time in prison and psychiatric institutions as a result of a drug addiction, he should have got out But if his inability to tear himself away from his homeland took a fearsome personal toll, it also enabled him to convey with chilling precision the texture of life under fascism, the way that fear enters into every transaction and poisons every relationship Alone in Berlin is a testament to the darkest days the 20th century had to offer, from beginning to end the book in drenched in fear, it grips hold, tight, and makes it perfectly clear, this is how it was, this was actually happening But for a husband and wife living through WW2 in Berlin they refuse to be intimidated by a despicable regime, and after losing their son in battle, set out discreetly to make their own personal feelings well known to a greater audience, whilst creating wrath within the Gestapo.Otto and Anna Quangel are a hard working couple, laborious, unsociable, thrifty to the point of stinginess, and originally not hostile to the National Socialists existing in a cold, shabby and colourless city That changes when their beloved son, Ottochen, is killed while fighting in France Otto, a foreman in a furniture factory that soon will be turned over to making coffins, is provoked into resistance He spends his Sundays writing anonymous postcards attacking Hitler, before dropping them in the stairwells of city buildings Mother Don t give to the Winter Relief Fund Work as slowly as you can Put sand in the machines Every stroke of work not done will shorten the war This silent mission of defiance will lead a furious SS To put inspector Escherich on the case, with the added pressure of getting immediate results Unfortunately for him It doesn t happen, always turning up a blind ally, with no traces leading to the suspect known as Hobgoblin The postcard campaign would march on and on, Otto would grow in both strength and confidence, before a spot of bad luck sends the walls crashing down around them Finally witnessing the brutal penal code of Nazi Germany.But the Quangels only make up part of the story, the novel reaches out far deeper than just it s main theme There are traces of unruly life scattered everywhere Brawling, delirium tremens, clinics and drying out establishments, country idylls, thieves, whores, blackmail, drugs, Nazi veterans in a haze of drink, struggling ordinary folk trying to put food on the table Vivid is the world of sub proletarian swindling that exploits and is exploited by the Nazis It is remarkable that Fallada, just months before his death, could compose a long novel that, after an overcrowded beginning, advances so confidently to its conclusion The Quangels neighbours all have considerable time spent on them during the first third, helping to paint a picture of just what life was like under such evil rule In fact there are huge chunks of the novel where Anna and Otto disappear completely, switching attention to the inner workings of the Gestapo and the fearful people who happen to have a run ins with them Many would by chance find one of the postcards, and be immediately struck with foreboding and dread for handling them.I have not always taken to huge expansive novels in the past, Alone in Berlin has put my faith back in them It was superbly written translation by Michael Hofmann, top marks never boring, seemed to fly by in a flash, and deserves all the praise it can get The fact it was also exhaustingly draining on my soul, harrowing and intensely sad, doesn t stop it being up there with the best I have ever read Even with the chaos of war around, standing face to face with the horror show of fascist Nazism, for some at least, courage and integrity can still exist, and never be broken Through all the darkness that proceeds it, the novel still manages to end with a flickering light of hope And Christ, does it ever need it. The author Hans Fallada, with native name Rudolf Wilhelm Friedrich Ditzen, is born on July 21st 1893 in Greifswald and he died on Feb 5th 1947 in Berlin Hans Fallada manages with his book Every Man Dies Alone a great story during the time of the Nazi regime The novel deals with the authentic case of the couple Otto and Elise Hampel, who were fated to die and to be executed for disintegration of the military force and preparation for high treason The current events in this story are well researched and it is indeed based on true events of the Quangel family, whose Gestapo file is the basis for this novel This book is consequently touching and very atmospheric written and impresses me with its moving story And considering that Fallada wrote the story only two years after the end of the gruesome chapter of German history, you can read the story even astonishing With that analytic mind of the writer, his distance and the emotional depth at the same time, he dissected the society Consequently this book is an absolutely timeless masterpiece for me. Then he picked up the pen and said softly, but clearly, The first sentence of our first card will read Mother The F hrer has murdered my sonAt that instant she grasped that this very first sentence was Otto s absolute and irrevocable declaration of war, and also what that meant war between, on the one side, the two of them, poor, small, insignificant workers who could be extinguished for just a word or two, and on the other, the F hrer, the Party, the whole apparatus in all its power and glory, with three fourths or even four fifths of the German people behind it And the two of them in this little room in Jablonski Strasse First and foremost this is an absolutely captivating novel As exciting in its choreography of brilliantly sustained dramatic tension as the best thriller What it lacks in artistry is made up for by its streamlined vitality and the pulsing urgency of its narrative There s something Dickensian about this energy, just as there s something Dickensian about its characters, all of whom are exaggerated, even caricatured but who nevertheless are always large and vivid with humanity The Nazis too are powerfully caricatured At one point a Nazi character says, I don t care about emotions I d rather have a proper ham sandwich than all the emotion in the world This statement is very much in keeping with Nazi priorities within the parameters of the novel where not only the banality of evil is brilliantly dramatised but also the banality of good Alone in Berlin is based on a true story Otto and Anna Quangel in the novel are based on Otto and Elise Hampel who, to begin with, are not by any means hostile to the National Socialists This changes when Elise s brother is killed early in the war The Hampels now begin leaving hundreds of postcards all over Berlin calling for civil disobedience In the novel it is the death of Otto and Anna s son that sparks the change of stance towards the Nazis Otto, a foreman in a furniture factory that soon will be turned over to making coffins, is provoked into resistance He spends his Sundays writing anonymous postcards against the regime and dropping them in the stairwells of city buildings Mother Don t give to the Winter Relief Fund Work as slowly as you can Put sand in the machines Every stroke of work not done will shorten the war The overriding and unanswerable question about the Nazis remains how did it happen How did an entire nation allow themselves to be swept up in a tsunami of racial hatred and vengeance We re usually told there was nothing one individual could do to oppose this orchestrated regime of terror The brilliant achievement of this novel is to show how two simple working class people did oppose the Nazis, but, from every practical point of view, in an utterly futile manner The postcards they wrote lacking any intellectual sophistication and often containing grammatical errors and misspellings were almost all immediately handed in to the Gestapo They terrified anyone who had the bad luck to stumble across one of them They did no political or military damage whatsoever This husband and wife were risking their lives for, what in practical terms, was an utterly futile commitment to a series of all but useless gestures Anna herself questions the smallness of the gesture but Otto points out that, if caught, they will pay with their lives and no one can sacrifice than her own life Fallada s great triumph is to show us that their actions, in the sphere of ethics, were far from futile They acted in accordance with conscience, to preserve their moral integrity even though they knew that to preserve their self respect would mean losing their lives Otto s moment of triumph comes at his sham trial when he stands up to the infamous real life Nazi judge most famously portrayed in the film Sophie Scholl Although Otto doesn t believe in God what he does is as much a religious as a political act He is acting as though his every gesture is being monitored by a moral overseer. I should express thanks to Gudrun Burwitz, for if it was not for her ruthless news, I would not have found a brilliant book that stands for every belief which Ms Burwitz expels from her very survival Couple weeks ago, a news article describing Burwitz as the new Nazi grandmother made me explore further for its validity Ms Burwitz who at the ripe age of 81, still strives hard to support and nurture the most modern breed of Nazis ,keeping alive the malicious work and memory of her father Heinrich Himmler, the chief authority behind the Gestapo operations The princess of Nazism , as one of the historian terms Gudrun, is a despicable bitch loathing the essence of humanity through her narrowed National Socialist mindset I would not identify her as a cultured human being, let alone a decent citizen of a wonderful country However, she would have been felicitated for her abhorrence during the Third Reich In 1940 s Gudrun Burwitz would have been a decent German the ideal daughter of Deutschland Not, Otto Quangel, though He was a traitor, a criminal who committed treason against the Fuhrer Otto Quangel was the Hogoblin , whose righteous words were feared by anyone who touched or read them.Otto and Anna Quangel was a working class couple Like many other couples they were decent Germans They obeyed their Fuhrer, you see Their only son was serving in the army defending Hitler s gruesome idea of legality of human race They helplessly saw their neighbors being caught and shipped to concentration camps, while they silently sipped their watery coffee in sheer silence They had to be tough in life That was the common justification of every brutality the Gestapo police committed Then one fine day, the death news of their only son arrived and Anna in a bursts of sorrow shrieked, you and your Fuhrer For Otto, a man of few words, Anna s words weighed than the misery of losing his child The agony of guilt swelled up Otto s moralistic integrity overwhelming his internal ethics Otto proposed an obscure form of anti Nazi warfare He would write postcards with slogans against the ongoing atrocities Mother The Fuhrer has murdered my son Mother The Fuhrer will murder your sons too he will not stop till he has brought sorrow to every home Otto s heroic resistance to the Nazi Regime magnified only through his personal tragedy Did the death of his son made him courageous as now he had nothing to lose Would Otto walk the mutinous path had his son arrived safely home Hans Fallada who suffered through his own personal war as Rudolf Ditzen, brings the laudable efforts of Elise and Otto Hampel 1931 , a real life couple who wrote anonymous postcards and leaflets to educate people about the ongoing atrocities ,informing to not buying Nazi papers and resist from participating in the war The writing is trouble free and the plot predictable nevertheless, throughout the fictional portrayals of the Quangels, Fallada beautifully enlightens the misery of ordinary Germans who struggled from their own moral battles Like, Eva Kungel who curses the fact of her birthing children who would eventually end up becoming monsters The investigation of the Hobgoblin case and the defenselessness of Inspector Escherich expose the disintegration of humanness in a society where the nobleness of a feeble endeavor to capture terror was misplaced.Otto Quangel was the burning conscience of a guilt ridden nation He and Anna were among the few whom were good corns sown in the fields of weeds Fallada signs off the book saying,But we don t want to end this book with death dedicated as it is to life, life always triumphs over humiliation and tears, over misery and death. Otto and Anna s death was inevitable and their efforts although ineffectual were not insignificant The Quangels did the unattainable and unfortunately their voices were lost among timid tones and pigheaded establishment, contrasting Wael Ghonim the cyber hero whose efforts instigated a revolution finally overthrowing Hosni Mubarak from supremacy. Bettie s Bookshttp www.bbc.co.uk programmes b00vvwq0Re visit 2015 via R4x Primo Levi s declaration that Alone in Berlin is the greatest book ever written about German resistance to the Nazis is bold and unequivocal English readers have had to wait 60 years to explore the 1947 novel in which Otto Quangel, a factory foreman Ron Cook and his wife Anna Margot Leicester believe themselves morally obliged to take on the full might of the Nazis.When their son is killed for Fuhrer and Fatherland , the Quangels begin to write anonymous postcards, denouncing the war and the regime, and leave them on the stairwells of public buildings in Berlin Over two years, the cards become their life Trapped through a trivial mistake, by their nemesis, Inspector Escherich of the Gestapo Tim McInnerny they are put on trial for their lives, but find a strange freedom in a mocking defiance and then in a terrible silence.Alone in Berlin is a grim but heroic story told with laconic determination by a man who lived through the war in Berlin It is about the quiet moral triumph of a seemingly inconsequential couple it points to a courage which lay in the hearts of most true Germans, if only angst and overwhelming fear hadn t been allowed to gain the upper hand.Cast Otto Quangel Ron CookAnna Quangel Margot LeicesterEscherich Tim McInnernyTrudel Bauman Jasmine HydeEva Kluge Christine KavanaghEnno Kluge Ian BartholomewEmil Borkhausen Richard McCabeFrau Rosenthal Joanna MunroeInspector Rusch John McAndrewJudge Fromm Andrew SachsInspector Zott Nickolas GraceInspector Prall Sam DaleDirector Eoin O Callaghan. Some books make you work for it They re not easy, they re difficult, they re sprawling and slow and undecided Until they re not Until you feel the gigantic heart beating at its nervous center, its unabashed humanity and intelligence It took me 250 pages to fully get into this one, and suddenly it took a turn and I was hooked like never before by its vital urgency The characters were full fleshed, fully realized, flawed and magnificent at the same time The novel rushed towards its inevitable conclusion with grace, the characters rushed towards their inescapable fate with a lucidity that leaves us in awe and teaches us a thing or two about the meaning of courage.The author wrote this novel in 24 days and never lived to see its publication According to the amazing bonus documents at the end of the paperback edition, Hans Fallada based his novel on a true story and was wondering whether the real acts of resistance of Otto and Elise Hampel had had any meaning.Their lives, the ordinariness, the smallness, the awkwardness of their resistance have meaning than they will ever know.Because it is absolutely essential for us, for all the generations that come after World War Two, to know that there was decency and good in some Germans in the face of evil.An unforgettable book. Inspired By A True Story, Hans Fallada S Alone In Berlin Is The Gripping Tale Of An Ordinary Man S Determination To Defy The Tyranny Of Nazi Germany This Penguin Classics Edition Contains An Afterword By Geoff Wilkes, As Well As Facsimiles Of The Original Gestapo File Which Inspired The Novel Berlin, , And The City Is Filled With Fear At The House On Jablonski Strasse, Its Various Occupants Try To Live Under Nazi Rule In Their Different Ways The Bullying Hitler Loyalists The Persickes, The Retired Judge Fromm, And The Unassuming Couple Otto And Anna Quangel Then The Quangels Receive The News That Their Beloved Son Has Been Killed Fighting In France Shocked Out Of Their Quiet Existence, They Begin A Silent Campaign Of Defiance, And A Deadly Game Of Cat And Mouse Develops Between The Quangels And The Ambitious Gestapo Inspector Escherich When Petty Criminals Kluge And Borkhausen Also Become Involved, Deception, Betrayal And Murder Ensue, Tightening The Noose Around The Quangels Necks If You Enjoyed Alone In Berlin, You Might Like John Steinbeck S The Moon Is Down, Also Available In Penguin Modern Classics One Of The Most Extraordinary And Compelling Novels Written About World War II Ever Alan Furst Terrific A Fast Moving, Important And Astutely Deadpan Thriller Irish Times An Unrivalled And Vivid Portrait Of Life In Wartime Berlin Philip Kerr To Read Fallada S Testament To The Darkest Years Of The th Century Is To Be Accompanied By A Wise, Somber Ghost Who Grips Your Shoulder And Whispers Into Your Ear This Is How It Was This Is What Happened The New York Times In this dark thriller, set in Berlin during World War II 1940 43 , a working class couple, Otto and Anna Quangel, decide to protest and resist the Nazi regime after they learned that her only son was killed in action Otto Quangel starts writing postcards with insults against Hitler, the Nazis, and the war and delivers them unobserved in office buildings in the hope that as many people as possible will read them and rethink, and thus perhaps bring about a speedy end to the dictatorship an approach, as it turns out, doomed to failure It doesn t take long before the Gestapo comes to know about this crime of high treason and start investigating and the noose is slowly tightening on the Quangels The main storyline there are quite a few others is supposedly based on the real case of Otto and Elise Hampel who also wrote and distributed postcards and where executed in 1943.It took me quite a while before I became comfortable with this 700 page novel by Hans Fallada my first one since I don t know how long The prose seemed unsophist cated and disjointed at first and the characters not especially likeable including the Quangels But Fallada is a master when it comes to tightening the screw and a great storyteller The overall mood in the novel is getting darker and darker, the desperation of many of the characters almost tangible The only other novel I read in which the lives of ordinary people under a dictatorship is depicted in such an intensity would be Orwell s Nineteen Eighty Four Those lives are determined by fear and hopelessness until the decision to resist There are indeed some similarities between Otto Quangel and Winston Smith While pondering what to tell about this book I chanced to find an article from The Guardian, titled Hans Fallada s Berlin in pictures , that shows some actual postcards written by Otto Hampel, like this one A German German people wake up We must free ourselves from the Hitlery or this one Hitler has no wife the butcher no sow The baker no dough That is the third Reich Hitler s violence before right brings us German people no peace Down with Hitler s gang This small text has three spelling and one grammatical mistake hatt instead of hat , Teich instead of Teig , Dass instead of Das , deutsches instead of deutschem and I wonder if this is by design, of whether Otto Hampel just couldn t do better I tend to think the latter This man, it is said, struggled to write and in the novel the fictional Otto Quangel needs a whole Sunday to write just two of those postcards It brings tears to my eyes when I read of such a simple man and how he rebels against the rule with such simple means It seems like a fight between David and Goliath but with David having no slingshot available It s a wonder it took the Gestapo so long to apprehend the so called hobgoblin the internal name used for the postcard writer But I guess even the means of the Gestapo were limited back then It s true that there were many people in Germany ready or even eager to denunciate their neighbors or co workers, even family members, but keeping a low profile could help escaping the powers that be for a while Today things would be much different Nowadays the Nazis could easily fill the prisons overnight with dissidents The data is readily available and only needs to be evaluated thanks to big data analysis tools But, of course, such a tyranny can not exist any in a civilized country, so it s rather pointless to speculate about it.There is much violence presented in this book Psychological and physical violence during interrogations by the Gestapo, in the torture cellars of the SS, in prisons and during trials at the so called Volksgerichtshof People s Court The suspects, prisoners, and defendants are all humiliated, beaten, and deprived of their dignity but are they dehumanized, as one so often hears I don t think so Dehumanized are the wielders of power, the policemen, the SS thugs and prison guards, the prosecutors and judges Resistance against those non humans, even if doomed to failure, wasn t and won t be futile but indeed mandatory if only to keep those gangsters occupied for a while That s one lesson to learn from Hans Fallada s highly recommended book This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. after losing their son to the war, berlin residents otta and anna quangel launch a mini revolt against the reich and fuhrer in the form of postcards around the city which speak subversive messages directly to the people read in the age of twitter and viral videos, this seems, at once, awfully quaint and particularly profound there was a time, i gather, when words mattered when there didn t exist a barrage of partisan wingnuts flooding the zeitgeist with nonsense but lemme skip the cranky old man get off my yard thing the portrait of two old people launching a mini revolution interests me far than dudes with guns and bombs and shit so it pains me to slap this with two stars but, wow has there ever been a book in need of an editor it s plodding and lumbering and filled with so much unnecessary bullshit it makes the reader feel like a kid forced to plow through four servings of steamed broccoli to get to that half portion of chocolate pudding it reads as if fallada drew up a rigid outline and just wrote out the shit um, part of writing is knowing what to leave out the leaving out ups the mystery quotient y ever hear the phrase, get into a scene at the last possible moment and get out at the earliest possible moment goose the reader, hans smack her around you don t need to tell us everything skip the walk to the apartment, just land us right there and force your reader to make sense of it as it happens and if you whisk us out of a scene before it ends you leave us wondering remember when don quixote raises his sword to hack away at some guy and cervantes just ends the chapter with the sword in the air genius, man, genius and coincidences just stay away fallada has a character who pisses off a nurse and so to stick it to him she rats him out as the card dropper the gestapo quickly realize the guy couldn t possibly be the card dropper but, so as to prove to their superiors that they re following leads, they tail the guy we, the reader, know that the guy s foreman at work is otto quangel, the actual card dropper ugh it wasn t necessary, hans you didn t need to do this there are better ways to draw connections, to make things come together, to have all lines diverge on a common point and there s lots of this kinda shit going on too much of it so i made it 250 pgs deep halfway and dropped the book in frustration and then i read that fallada wrote the book in 24 days makes sense given a few months and a good editor this could ve resembled the masterpiece they said it was.
Hans Fallada, born Rudolf Wilhelm Adolf Ditzen in Greifswald, was one of the most famous German writers of the 20th century His novel, Little Man, What Now is generally considered his most famous work and is a classic of German literature Fallada s pseudonym derives from a combination of characters found in the Grimm fairy tales The protagonist of Lucky Hans and a horse named Falada in The
- 668 pages
- Jeder stirbt für sich allein
- Hans Fallada
- 22 July 2019 Hans Fallada