Alone in Berlin

by Hans Fallada | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 014118938X Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingcountofmontewing of Heanor, Derbyshire United Kingdom on 8/27/2014
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
5 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingcountofmontewing from Heanor, Derbyshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, August 27, 2014
One of the most important books ever.

Released 4 yrs ago (4/10/2015 UTC) at Bookcrossing Convention 2015 in Oxford, Oxfordshire United Kingdom


Convention release.

Journal Entry 3 by wingcalissonwing at Oxford, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Saturday, April 11, 2015
what a lovely surprise!
Actually Hans Fallada is one of my favorite writers.
Not only since a challenge concerning burnt books I have read quite a few of novels written by him and by his writing colleagues, some of them nearly forgotten.
I do have a copy of this book at home (the original titel is "Jeder stirbt fuer sich allein"). So I'd like to put it onto the book buffet, as I wish that it will find some more interested readers.

Journal Entry 4 by wingGhaneschawing at Oxford, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, April 15, 2015
I have red this book in german and this very good book traveling soon to Berlin...

zum 10.Mai. Gedenktag der "Bücherverbrennung"

Journal Entry 5 by wingGhaneschawing at CUM LAUDE in Mitte, Berlin Germany on Sunday, May 10, 2015

Released 4 yrs ago (5/10/2015 UTC) at CUM LAUDE in Mitte, Berlin Germany


Gedenktag der Bücherbervebrennung

danke an Physalis74 der das Buch zu seinem Handlungsort( im Hintergrund die Gedenktafel Berlin Wedding ) brachte und nun reist es in die USA

Journal Entry 6 by wingPhysalis74wing at Wedding, Berlin Germany on Sunday, May 10, 2015

Caught at the Berlin MeetUp 10th May 2015, the 82. anniversary of Nazi book burning.

Hans Fallada is also one of my favorite writers. The two main character of this novel, inspired by a true story, the couple Otto and Anna Quangel (Otto and Elise Hampel) lived just a corner away from my present home in Berlin-Wedding.

This is just one of my importent book I ever had read.

Journal Entry 7 by wingPhysalis74wing at Wedding, Berlin Germany on Sunday, May 10, 2015

Berlin memorial plaque on the house Amsterdamer Strasse 10 in Berlin-Wedding


Rudolf Ditzen, who wrote under the name Hans Fallada, lived a chaotic life. Born in 1893 in Greifswald in north-east Germany, he was the son of a lawyer who was later appointed a judge. At the age of 18 he killed a schoolfriend in a duel, and spent much of his career in psychiatric hospitals and drying-out clinics or in prison for thieving and embezzlement to support his morphine habit. In between, he worked on the land, wrote a couple of novels and held down jobs for a period on newspapers.

Fallada married in 1929, and for a while straightened out. His 1932 novel, Kleiner Mann - was nun? ("Little Man - What Now?") brought him praise from Thomas Mann, international success, a Hollywood film and a small farm. Under the Nazis, Fallada wrote and published a series of gritty novels of the type that German critics call neue Sachlichkeit, or new objectivity. In 1944, he shot at his wife in a quarrel and was confined again to a psychiatric hospital.

At the end of the war, Fallada was embraced by the new East German literary authorities. In 1947, he published with Aufbau-Verlag Jeder stirbt fuer sich allein ("Each dies only for himself") which is here called Alone in Berlin. It was the first novel by a German author to take as its theme the small-scale domestic resistance to the National Socialists. The same year, weakened by years of alcoholism and drug-taking, Fallada died of a heart attack.

Traces of this unruly life are scattered through Alone in Berlin: brawling, delirium tremens, clinics and drying-out establishments, country idylls, theft, blackmail, morphine, and a vivid 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.

Otto and Anna Quangel are a Berlin working couple, laborious, unsociable, thrifty to the point of stinginess, and originally not hostile to the National Socialists. That changes in 1940 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 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!"

According to the forward to the first German edition, the novel follows "in its broad lines" the Gestapo files on the illegal activities of an actual Berlin working-class couple, Otto and Elise Hampel. Originally Nazi supporters, on the death of their son in France in 1940 they began to deposit postcards and some 200 written leaflets in post-boxes and stairwells around their home district, Berlin-Wedding. They were betrayed, arrested on 20 October 1942, sentenced to death by the People's Court and executed in Plötzensee prison the following April.

To bring life to these facts, Fallada assembles a staff of vivid low-life characters, stoolies, thieves and whores, Nazi veterans in a haze of drink, as well as ordinary working-people trying to put food on the table. Here is the resistance of the small man, perilous, disorganised, irresponsible, perverse, brave and almost wholly futile. As the Gestapo Inspector Escherich muses: "There were more urgent and important cases. A madman ... did nothing but send Minister Goebbels daily letters that were crude, and often pornographic in nature. Well, Inspector Escherich was in luck, he had managed to solve the 'Filth' case within three months."

In the foreword, Fallada (or his editor) defends the brutality of the book on the grounds that it takes place "among opponents of the regime and their persecutors, where quite a few came to grief". This dialectic of persecutor and persecuted is Fallada's most profound contribution. Of the 276 postcards and eight letters deposited by the Quangels over two years, all but 18 are handed straight in to the Gestapo where they destroy one life and two careers and sow chaos in an arbitrary and unamanageable organisation.

Otto and Anna themselves enjoy a moral triumph before the People's Court. Those who have seen newsreel film of judge Roland Freisler screaming at defendants may find the People's Court scenes hard to credit. It seems Fallada kept his optimism intact to the end of his hard and rackety life. The witness who stands up in court to sing a Lutheran hymn seemed to me as honest as the old peasant couple who beg for clemency in a letter that begins: "Dearly beloved Fuehrer, a wretched mother is begging you on her knees for the life of her daughter, who committed a grave sin against you, but you are so great, you will surely show her mercy." Of course, there is no mercy, least of all from the Allies, who bombed Plötenzee during the night of 3-4 September 1943 and set off an orgy of executions in the prison.

For the British publisher, this book is a "rediscovered" masterpiece - a sort of German Némirovsky - and if that pitch finds readers in the English-speaking countries, so much the better. In truth, the book did very well in the Aufbau-Verlag edition, was filmed for television in both wings of divided Germany and then again for the cinema in the west in 1975 with Hildegard Knef and Carl Raddatz. I suppose by "rediscovered", Penguin means "translated into English".

For a translator, even one as experienced as Michael Hofmann, this book cannot have been easy, not so much on account of the Berlin dialect - "Wat jibt's denn Neuet?" rather than "Was gibt es denn Neues?" - but because of the sometimes slapdash German, the scenes that maunder or run out of puff, and the garish palette of effects. It is harder to translate mediocre German than good German. But Hofmann is a complete literary professional, and although he may prefer Kafka or Josef Roth or Wolfgang Köppen, he gives this tough and shady author his all.

Journal Entry 8 by wingPhysalis74wing at Amsterdamer Straße in Wedding, Berlin Germany on Monday, February 01, 2016

Released 3 yrs ago (2/1/2016 UTC) at Amsterdamer Straße in Wedding, Berlin Germany


This wishlist book starts his journey vom Berlin-Wedding to the United States

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Journal Entry 9 by wingiwillrejoicewing at Fort Myers, Florida USA on Sunday, February 14, 2016
Alone in Berlin arrived safely today. Thank you! I look forward to reading it!

P.S. Love the postcards, bookmarks, & stamps!

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