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Every man dies alone by Hans Fallada
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Every man dies alone (original 1947; edition 2009)

by Hans Fallada

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1,853None3,723 (4.21)223
Member:rtwinter2
Title:Every man dies alone
Authors:Hans Fallada
Info:New York, Melville House, 2009
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:German Literature

Work details

Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (1947)

1940s (14) 2010 (10) 2011 (9) 20th century (27) Berlin (96) Europe (9) fiction (262) German (53) German fiction (33) German literature (75) Germany (145) historical fiction (57) history (21) Holocaust (28) literature (28) Nazi (14) Nazi Germany (11) Nazis (43) Nazism (36) novel (50) read (11) resistance (60) Roman (32) to-read (59) translated (10) translation (16) unread (10) war (21) wishlist (11) WWII (221)
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» See also 223 mentions

English (85)  Dutch (7)  French (3)  German (2)  Spanish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  Danish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (102)
Showing 1-5 of 85 (next | show all)
Hans Fallada was all but forgotten outside Germany when this 1947 novel, Alone in Berlin (US title: Every Man Dies Alone), was reissued in English in 2009, whereupon it became a best seller and reintroduced Hans Fallada's work to a new generation of readers.

I came to this book having read More Lives Than One: A Biography of Hans Fallada by Jenny Williams, which was the perfect introduction into the literary world of Hans Fallada.

Alone In Berlin really brings alive the day-to-day hell of life under the Nazis - and the ways in which people either compromised their integrity by accepting the regime, or, in some cases, resisted. The insights into life inside Nazi Germany are both fascinating and appalling. The venom of Nazism seeping into every aspect of society leaving no part of daily existence untouched or uncorrupted.

Alone In Berlin is also a thriller, and the tension starts from the first page and mounts with each passing chapter. I can only echo the praise that has been heaped on this astonishingly good, rediscovered World War Two masterpiece. It's a truly great book: gripping, profound and essential.

5/5 ( )
  nigeyb | Mar 18, 2014 |
When I read the back cover of this book, I thought it was conventional crime thiller set in WW2 Berlin. How wrong I was, but it's all the better for that. Based on a true story which from the first few pages is clear will not end well. Written by someone who lived through the time its vivid detail and sense of place is fantastic. The plot itself is quite thin and it's no surprise to read in the afterword that Fallada initially rejected it as a subject for a book. What there is a range of characters of which only a few are that sympathetic, but always compelling. My only gripe would be that many of them are caricatures, which then detracts from their interaction.
A definate must read, but not an easy read. ( )
  BrianHostad | Jan 28, 2014 |
Alone in Berlin, takes place during the 2nd world war, with Germany firmly under the Nazi jackboot. Because of the constant fear of arrest by the Gestapo, with the threat of imprisonment, torture and death Berlin was a miasma of paranoia, fear and suspicion. In a world where a family member, neighbour or complete stranger can denounce you for a crime imagined or otherwise and even if you're not condemned to death, you'll find yourself classified an enemy of the state, ostracized and unable to find employment.

Otto and Anna Quangel, are a working class couple, who were not interest in politics, and although they weren't members of the National Socialist German Worker's Party, they had tacitly supported Hitler, even voted for him.

This was all to change - when one day a letter arrived, telling them their son had died a "hero's death for Führer and Fatherland". This shocks them out of their apathy and they start a campaign that explicitly questions Hitler and his regime, writing on postcards messages such as:

"Mother! The Führer has murdered my son. Mother! The Führer will murder your sons too, he will not stop till he has brought sorrow to every home in the world."

These cards were then left in the stairwells of apartment blocks, in locations all over Berlin, or dropped into post boxes. It wasn't long before they caught the attention of the Gestapo. This takes takes the form of inspector Escherich, who is mapping the position of every card with the aim of pinning down the "criminals". This being Nazi Germany, Escherich himself is constantly under pressure to get results or face the direst consequences: harried & abused by Obergruppenführer Prall, the inspector will try any trick - dirty or otherwise to catch the postcard writers.

Although the postcards aren't really successful, because the population is so terrified that they hand them straight to the Gestapo, or destroy them, the cards offend the authorities and the case becomes serious and failure to solve it is not an option and it's just a matter of time before the Quangels become guests of the hellhole that is the Gestapo prison system and then it becomes a question of not will they survive, but how they die.

Alone in Berlin was originally called Every Man Dies Alone and was based on the true story of Otto and Elise Hampel a working class couple from Berlin, who came up with the idea of leaving postcards around their city denouncing Hitler and his regime. They got away with it for about two years, but were eventually discovered, denounced, arrested, tried and executed - beheaded in Berlin's Plötzensee Prison in April 1943. Hans Fallada was given the Hampel's Gestapo files by Johannes Becher, a writer friend of Fallada's, who was president of the cultural organization established by the Soviet military administration in the Soviet sector, with the aim of creating a new anti-fascist culture.

Sometimes you pick up a book that so engrosses you, that despite it's subject matter you cannot leave it alone. You know that there will be no traditional happy ending for Otto and Anna Quangel, that respect for humanity is not high on the Gestapo's list of priorities, that it is when and not if they are caught and then that they will face every form of torture from humiliation to being treated like a rag doll in the mouth of a rabid dog. None of this matters, or more accurately despite all of it, this book is beautiful, a quiet book of common decency, that reaches beyond the subject matter to reach a grandeur that, although of a tragic nature, still lights up bright enough to shine through the deepest of hellholes and to depict in letters large enough to be seen from the stars stating that despite all evidence to the contrary the human spirit and decency is never ever totally destroyed. ( )
1 vote parrishlantern | Oct 11, 2013 |
very let down by the translation ( )
  jeamjik | Sep 25, 2013 |
From Book Depository: 'Its Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 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...'
This is a grim and realistic account of how it was for the German people in Berlin during the Second World War. It is well-written but of sombre tone. ( )
  HelenBaker | Jul 11, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 85 (next | show all)
Every Man Dies Alone is a good book, a readable, suspense-driven novel from an author who a) knew what he was doing when it came to writing commercial fiction, and b) had lived through, and so knew intimately, the period he was writing about. This is an extraordinary combination. I hesitate to use a word like "serendipity," but cruelly enough, that's exactly what it was.
added by MidnightDreamer | editGlobe and mail (Jul 30, 2009)
 
To read “Every Man Dies Alone,” Fallada’s testament to the darkest years of the 20th 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.”
 

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hans Falladaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Coisson, ClaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hofmann, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
The postwoman Eva Kluge slowly climbs the steps of 55 Jablonski Strasse.
Quotations
He might be right: whether their act was big or small, no one could risk more than his life. Each according to his strength and abilities, but the main thing was, you fought back.
"What did you expect anyway, Quangel? You, an ordinary worker, taking on the Fuhrer, who is backed by the Party, the Wehrmacht, the SS, the SA?...It's ludicrous! You must have known you had no chance! It's a gnat against an elephant. I don't understand it, a sensible man like you!"

"No, and you will never understand it, either. It doesn't matter it one man fights or ten thousand; if the one man sees he has no option but to fight, then he will fight, whether he has others on his side or not. I had to fight, and given the chance I would do it again. Only I would do it very differently."
"Who can say? At least you opposed evil. You weren't corrupted..."

"Yes, and then they kill us, and what good did our resistance do?"

"Well, it will have helped us to feel that we behaved decently till the end... As it was, we all acted alone, we were caught alone, and every one of us will have to die alone. But that doesn't mean that we are alone, Quangel, or that our death will be in vain..."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Alone in Berlin (UK - 2009) - Every Man Dies Alone (US - 2009) - Jeder stirbt für sich allein (DE - 1947)
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"Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 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 ..."--Publisher's description.… (more)

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