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Alene i Berlin by Hans Fallada
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Alene i Berlin (original 1947; edition 1947)

by Hans Fallada, Jacob Jonia (Translator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,9321033,536 (4.21)229
Member:2810michael
Title:Alene i Berlin
Authors:Hans Fallada
Other authors:Jacob Jonia (Translator)
Info:Kbh. : People's Press, 2012.
Collections:Your library, 2012 (inactive)
Rating:*****
Tags:Historie, Nazisme, Diktatur, 2. verdenskrig, Modstandskamp, 1940-1949, Berlin, Tyskland, Tysk litteratur, Skrevet 1940-1949, Roman

Work details

Every Man Dies Alone / Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada (1947)

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» See also 229 mentions

English (86)  Dutch (7)  German (2)  French (2)  Hebrew (2)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (104)
Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
I was mesmerised by this book. I didn't have high expectations for a German book from 1947, but having come straight from the precious schmaltz of The Book Thief, Every Man Dies Alone was a fantastic experience. Nowhere before have I found such a credible description of what it must have been like to live as an ordinary German citizen under the Third Reich: the constant worry, the power abuse by the uniformed castes and the sense of inevitable doom. Since it was written in 1947, the Third Reich was stil in the veryrecent past. Seventy short chapters give this story a brisk pace, making this a true page-turner.
Initially, I suspected that this was going to be an apologetic book, written by a contrite German a few years after WWII in order to ingratiate oneself with the Allied occupation forces. But as episodes from Fallada's own life make clear, he certainly had had great difficulties during the Nazi era, falling in and out of favour with people like Goebbels, and refusing their suggestions to add chapters to novels where the Nazis would appear as a deus ex machina for the German people. As a reader, you feel that the author has had brushes with Nazi authority and has been able to observe their methods closely. He is also an accomplished writer: characters are nicely fleshed out, and the plot is elegantly woven together by the vicissitudes of apparently isolated people. Though based on a true story, this is a work of fiction, that demonstrates how difficult it was to organise acts of resistance against the Nazis (and how easy to get caught and punished). The end notes mention Hannah Arendt's "Eichmann in Jerusalem" and its "Banality of Evil", comparing it the "banality of good" which is described in this book. Resistance doesn't always consist of great heroic acts.
Spoiler & Final note: this book read like a screenplay. I think a big screen adaptation is long overdue (even though there is no happy end, since almost every character dies - alone). ( )
1 vote fist | Jul 13, 2014 |
This German novel first published in 1947 was inspired by Otto and Elise Hampel who beginning in 1940 wrote 'postcards' decrying Hitler and urging resistance to him and then left the postcards where they hoped they would be fourd. In the novel Otto and Anna Quangel distribute cards saying anti-Nazi things after their son is killed in the invasion of France in 1940. This seems an ineffectual thing to do but it is all they think they can do. Most of the cards promptly come into the hands of the police and Gestapo who spend lots of effort trying to see who is distributing the cards. While this is going on the book is I thought tensely exciting, since if they are caught they will probably be killed. Clearly what they did was futile but their role is to show that there were Germans resisting the evil that had conquered Germany. ( )
  Schmerguls | May 27, 2014 |
Every Man Dies Alone was written in 24 days after the author had been recently released from a Nazi insane asylum. It is an extraordinary and deeply humane novel that tell the story of a disparate group of factory workers, postal workers and petty criminals in Berlin who struggled to survive and even resist the ever-present threat of informers and their Gestapo masters.

It could be subtitled No Man Isn't Scared Witless of the Gestapo (who hauled in anyone they chose and routinely tortured people to death in the most gruesome fashion).

I thought it was going to be a spy story in the manner of Alan Furst (who blurbs the book in glowing terms and whose work I enjoy very much) but is a more ambitious and even philosophical novel that asks the question: what can you do to resist when faced with an overwhelming evil that threatens you with death or torture for even an insignificant wrong comment or small act of rebellion?

No Man is based on the true story of a couple who lost a family member in the war and who then carried a lonely campaign of resistance against the Nazi's using a simple and surprising method of protest. Their true story and the actual Gestapo files that were kept on the couple are an addendum to the novel (I wish I could read German because they are fascinating to see)

This book was not at all what I expected. I was looking for a spy story, and it is a spy story, but it is so much more. The characters are richly drawn and the details of day-to-day life in Berlin under the Nazi's are authentic and rich.

Fallada is reaching for a bigger story and he never falters in his portrayal of the power of love and moral courage in the face of the mundane and crushing evil.

You will probably like it if you enjoy Alan Furst or Philip Kerr or World War 2 stories, especially Germany under Nazism or stories of resistance and underground movement in a totalitarian state. We all wonder how we would behave. Would we collaborate or find some small courage to resist?

Fallada covers this ground with a sure and sympathetic hand. He lived in Germany throughout the war and the background, details and story of life of life in Berlin during the war ring absolutely authentic and true.

This is a compelling, deeply humane and even inspiring novel that is plotted well and has enough tension, intrigue and “spy stuff” to keep you turning the pages into the night.

This was a 5-star read for me.
( )
1 vote blnq | May 11, 2014 |
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 ( )
1 vote 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 |
Showing 1-5 of 86 (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..."
Last words
(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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