Aug 24 2009

Every Man Dies Alone

Published by at 9:47 am under Books

by Hans Fallada

This novel was written in Germany soon after the end of WW II by an author who had stayed in Germany through the entire Nazi period. He suffered under the Nazis and to an extent cooperated with them as he “had to” to in order to survive. He died soon after the book was written and didn’t live to see it published, but he did know whereof he wrote and it shows.
To the story: Superficially, the story is depressing as life for ordinary people in Germany must have been. Shortages, constant surveillance of all by many, imprisonment or death if accused. Violence everywhere. The system corrupted almost everyone and those that dared to object or criticize were silenced. The tale revolves around two working class Germans who slide into resistance when there son is killed in the invasion of France. A personal rather than a ‘noble’ reason. Their resistance is simple and ineffectual; they leave postcards with seditious messages around Berlin. About half the book involves other characters and plots at the same time in the same city resulting in a more complete picture of life in that city. Almost all the tales end in death or incarceration for someone.
The Nazi period is now 50 to 70 years ago so the methods seem crude and brutal, but it is not hard to make the connection between life in Germany under Hitler and life under any other totalitarian regime. From reading this, it seems the annihilation of trust affects everyone everywhere. Everyone is suspicious of everyone else and hunkering down is the common (only?) survival strategy. With digital communications and databases, a more modern surveillance society would be more efficient and hence worse.
The book also contains an interesting summary of the life of Fallada and an introduction to the real couple whose story underlies this novel. This is an excellent book well worth reading. Somehow, it ends up being not really depressing. Realistic and much to be depressed about, but it is not a downer.

No responses yet

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.