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Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada
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Every Man Dies Alone (original 1947; edition 2010)

by Hans Fallada, Michael Hofmann (Translator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,3861192,618 (4.21)269
Member:Ianaf
Title:Every Man Dies Alone
Authors:Hans Fallada
Other authors:Michael Hofmann (Translator)
Info:Melville House (2010), Edition: 1, Paperback, 544 pages
Collections:Read
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada (1947)

  1. 81
    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (meggyweg)
    meggyweg: Ordinary Germans during the Holocaust and World War II.
  2. 50
    Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman (chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: Both are books about individuals under repressive regimes, set during WWII, by authors who lived through the circumstances they write about. Although both works are "fiction", the authority of each writer is plainly stamped on each novel. The subject matter may be grim, and the detail uncompromising, but the characters' humanity shines through to make these uplifting reads.… (more)
  3. 30
    A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary by Marta Hillers (2810michael)
  4. 20
    The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell (Torikton)
  5. 20
    Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler (chrisharpe)
  6. 20
    In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: If you found In the Garden of Beasts moving and want to read fiction about the Third Reich, try Every Man Dies Alone, a haunting novel based on actual events surrounding a couple that attempted to undermine the Nazi regime.
  7. 10
    The Forests of the Night by Jean-Louis Curtis (Stbalbach)
  8. 10
    Mendelssohn is on the Roof by Jiří Weil (meggyweg)
  9. 10
    Allesbehalve een held by Rudolf Lorenzen (gust)
  10. 00
    The 43 Group: Untold Story of Their Fight Against Fascism by Morris Beckman (abclaret)
  11. 00
    The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (sleepykid00)
    sleepykid00: Another book about civilians going against the Nazi regime during WWII
  12. 00
    The Invention of Curried Sausage by Uwe Timm (meggyweg)
  13. 00
    Deux dans Berlin by Richard Birkefeld (2810michael)
  14. 00
    The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander (jayne_charles)
    jayne_charles: Different countries, different times, but both books tell of ordinary people battling against a powerful regime
  15. 00
    The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (generalkala)
  16. 00
    Hotel Berlin 1943 by Vicki Baum (1Owlette)
  17. 00
    History by Elsa Morante (marieke54)
  18. 01
    Cold Angel: Murder in Berlin--1949 by Horst Bosetzky (charl08)
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» See also 269 mentions

English (100)  Dutch (6)  French (2)  Catalan (2)  German (2)  Hebrew (2)  Spanish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  All (119)
Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
You know from the very beginning of Alone in Berlin that this is not to be a happy book: it was written in the aftermath of the Second World War, and is based on the true account of a couple who resisted the Nazi Regime.

Alone in Berlin is suffocating: The darkness. The cruelty. The sycophancy. The struggle to survive. The way the system eats itself. But in Anna and Otto Quangel we glimpse the beauty of the human soul: in their futile attempt to retain their dignity in the face of a Facist regime that wishes to crush their spirits under its Jackboots. ( )
  gareth.russell | Jun 19, 2017 |
Having become interested in reading more about German History before and up to the Third Reich, this book caught my eye when the English translation came out. Published just before his death in 1947, it's a factually based novel of several characters living in Berlin during WWII. A very fine book. He uses multiple narratives to effectively intertwine the lives of characters, all of whom are unhinged in some way by Nazi despotism. At center is Otto Quangel, who, along with his wife, decides to try an insidious, yet apparently safe, way to stoke opposition to the regime, after losing their only son to the war. (the two are based on an actual couple.) As much as the Quangel's plight kept me tuned in, the sordid adventures of others, such as the much-maligned and morally torn Inspector Escherich, are equally interesting. One of the strengths of this book is it reads like a genuine examination of the people and conditions of the time. Fallada was reflecting the reality he witnessed as a writer who managed to stay in-country despite his own incarceration and censorship. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Jun 9, 2017 |
I have had possession of this book for a long time, but it took a while for me to start reading it. I picked up this book to actually read in the first place because my copy had this quote on the front cover: "The greatest book ever written about German resistance to the Nazis." (Primo Levi) Being personally depressed about the results of the 2016 United States presidential election and seeing the American government trying to diminish democracy, I wanted to see what was done in the past in similar situations and was initially attracted to that word "resistance".

I find books about the Holocaust hard but necessary to read and tend to space them out so as not to read them too close together. I usually do not like reading fiction about the Holocaust because the truth about that historical event is terrible enough that I see little use for creating fiction about it. And yet. This book is a notable example of Holocaust fiction that works well because it is by a noted German author who lived in Germany his whole life - even through the darkest hours of WWII. It is also based on a true story. In this time for me of political turbulence and fear in my own country of the United States, I desperately needed to read a book about resistance to evil forces. I needed to know that moral forces can be present in the seeming abyss of the darkest hours.

This is not to say that this was as easy read. To the contrary. The plot was complicated, the book was lengthy, the subject matter heartbreaking, and there were many characters about whom I had to take notes to remember who was who. In addition, I wrote down a short summary of each chapter, no more than a sentence or two in length, so that I could keep track of everything that happened. This proved helpful to me. Fortunately, each chapter was short so I could do this easily.

It took me a long time to read this book. I mostly needed to stop reading after each short chapter or two to contemplate what just happened. I don't usually read books in this manner, but Holocaust reading pushes heavily on my heart for personal reasons.

I would suggest to anyone who wants to read this book to read the biography of the author first. That will give you a better perspective on why he chose to write this book.

At the end of the book, there are pictures of the couple upon whom this book was based as well as pictures of the postcards they distributed and their signed confessions.

Since my dad was a refugee from Nazi Germany in 1938, escaping penniless and fleeing for his life, my eternal gratitude goes to anyone who helped Nazi victims in any way. Resistance was not easy. The true heroes of this book are both the couple on whom this novel was based and the author himself, all of who stood for morality in a time of pervasive evil.

This is a book well worth the time and effort I put into reading it. I recommend it very highly to those who are interested in learning more about German resistance to the Nazis during wartime. ( )
2 vote SqueakyChu | May 31, 2017 |
Nowadays Hans Fallada’s novel Every Man Dies Alone (1947) , a true story of quiet back-room rebellion of a middle – aged couple against the Nazi regime, seems to be included more often than before in canonical lists of German literature.

It is one of those books that was written not solely for the sake of the story but also as an early attempt to show the World and especially the Germans themselves, that there had been a few decent people left in Nazi – ruled Germany. While the story is closely based on true events ( my edition includes pictures and official documents ), a few details are too good to be anything else than an attempt of propaganda: a fellow prisoner in a Gestapo prison, one of the last decent and kind men left, is a music conductor whistling a whole range of high Art tunes : Beethoven, Bach and other examples of high German culture. This symbolic featureis respected by both his fellow inmates and prison guards.

I belong to those who in trying to understand what happened in Germany between 1933 and 1945, refuses to separate the Germans from the Nazi’s.To me, with a grandfather executed by Wehrmacht soldiers, it was the same people. Nazism was the rule of the Bully and a mass that let the Bully rule.

The book’s main achievement, beside the merit of a well told story, is without doubt the recreation of the atmosphere of oppression and fear that permeates daily life in Berlin during the darker years of Nazi rule. Fallada narrates the story of the little people and I must confess that the description of how the Nazi rule of law works is often chilling and gives the reader a good idea of how daily life is lived in a Police state, be it under the Nazi’s, Stalin’s Russia or nowadays in the Arabic countries under the rule of an extremist Mullah.

Every Man Dies Alone is a book well worth reading. It is a gripping and well structured story . At moments however it feels a bit like the na
rrative is stretched too much or diverting away too far from the main story line, but at the end all the threads come back into a single horrible knot.

With a last page turned, you remain with a few deep questions : What for instance is the physiology of these acts of resistance. Why do people rebel ? How much bravery goes into it and most of all, is it worth doing it against a much stronger opponent?

The fact that the story is still read and praised is an answer by itself. ( )
4 vote Macumbeira | Feb 22, 2017 |
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 | Dec 27, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 100 (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

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hans Falladaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Coisson, ClaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hofmann, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mooij, A.Th.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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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..." (Dr. Reichhardt, p.434)
Much of the money was siphoned off by the Party, and scholars have noted that it kept the populace short of extra cash and acclimated to the idea of privation.  (Footnote, p. 24)
Even the worst Party member was worth more to them than the best ordinary citizen.  Once in the Party, it appeared you could do what you liked, and never be called for it.  They termed that rewarding loyalty with loyalty. (p. 24)
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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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